Founder Emelie Ivansson shapes a more functional and eco-friendly future for lingerie with her brand, Liass.
"It's important to me to be considerate of the environment and to have a transparent supply chain, but also for the pieces to be high quality, something we'll wear often for a long time."
Favorite Breakfast: Every morning I have a smoothie, a soft boiled egg and coffee!
Current Favorite Book: Just started reading 'Originals' by Adam Grant
Favorite Country / City for Inspiration: Still exploring NYC, but I miss the simplistic beauty and creativity of Tokyo and Seoul.
Emelie Ivansson is the multitalented founder of the underwear brand, Liass. Liass's dreamlike aesthetics help portray the story of a brand grounded by the principles of form and functionality. With a focus centered around providing comfortable foundation pieces for the user—this eco-friendly brand carves a much needed space in the lingerie market.
How did you get started?
Liass came from a desire for a more open and diverse way of creating.
I grew up in the Swedish countryside where I didn't necessarily have access to everything. If I needed something I would create it. This shaped my creativity early on and remains the foundation for my passion and approach to design.
Choosing one path of focus in school and my career was frustrating when I would have rather used my creativity across a variety of mediums. I think a lot of creatives feel trapped in a similar way, especially those that have been in an industry for a while.
I wanted to build something medium-agnostic. I found it more important and intriguing to shape a brand based on an ethos and an aesthetic, focusing my creativity on areas I'm passionate about. Like a more meaningful/substantive lifestyle brand.
I want Liass to be a brand that connects with it's community around intrinsic values such as simplification, comfort, and function (more personal benefits), with my focus right now being a collection of underwear that make great foundation pieces.
What were you doing before Liass?
My background is in design and art direction. I started my career as a digital designer at a creative agency in San Francisco and I have since worked for multiple agencies, fashion brands, and startups. Over the years I've shaped my role to be more focused in brand strategy and user experience. It's about connecting customer needs with company ambitions, using visual design as a vehicle for that. Outside of Liass I recently formed a partnership with Marissa Shapiro, founder of design studio Martha. We do brand strategy, marketing, and design.
Why did you decide to do underwear?
Existing brands and pieces didn't fit my needs and many of my friends felt the same. I found it strange that lingerie was more about being sexy and to "push up", "shape" or "show off" my body for others rahter than about me being comfortable. We spend all day in our underweaer. They should be foundation pieces for the clothing we wear. I wanted to create functional, refined pieces that prioritze those values, replacing noise and stress with self-comfort and simplicity.
Why did you decide to incorporate sustainibility into your brand?
I never really thought of it as a decision, it was a natural choice for a few reasons. Being environmentally conscious was a part of my upbringing. My dad works in the environmental sector and has for as long as I can remember. He's been a big advocate of sustainability and an inspiration to me. With my years working in e-commerce and learning more about the fashion industry, including the trade off's being made at the expense of the environment, I wanted to place myself in a position to make informed decisions wherever I can.
Now, awareness for sustaibility and transcaprencey is growing so fast, which is amazing. It's imporatant to me to be considerate of the enviroment and to have a transparent supply chain, but also for the pieces to be high quality, something we'll wear often for a long time.
"A lot of my inspiration comes from connecting with different people and exploring new places. I never really search for inspiration, it naturally comes if I take care of myself and stay grounded."
Working and living in different metropolitan cities— how easy or challenging were those transitions for you? ( From city to city)
Yes, I've spent time in San Francisco, Stockholm, London and Tokyo before I moved to New York 4 years ago.
Of course each city had its own cultural differences that very much shaped my experience. The bigger transition, looking back at it, was how these places came at different times for me. My own mindset and energy shaped how I experienced a city and its people, and how well ( or not so well) I adapted to it.
Coming originally from a small village in Sweden, do you ever miss the countryside?
I definitely miss the countryside and the lakes, I miss the bright summer nights that last until morning. But I also feel the village in the West Village. It's very green and has such a neighborhood feel to it that it makes me feel really at home. I love early morning walks when it's super quiet, and I'm the weirdo that says "hi" to people I don't know. But you do get the chance to know your neightbors here, which I love.
What have been some of the challenges of starting your brand coming from a different creative background than most fashion designers?
I've definitely had a pretty steep learning curve. I still do. Lingerie, especially, is very technical and complex— as is understanding the industry language and learning all the different aspects of the process. I think my design background has been helpful. What I do as a designer is always grounded in problem-solving and user needs, which is how I've approached garment making. It's been really fun to collaborate with my seamstress and pattern maker. The key for me has been to stay focused and empathetic of the needs of the customer.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from connecting with different people and exploring new places. I never really search for inspiration, it naturally comes if I take care of my self and stay grounded. ( don't stress too much)
What's next for Liass?
Right now I'm focused on production. My first run is underway and will be available this November. We're collecting a waitlist right now at liass.nyc and will be launching pre-orders at the end of the summer ( can't wait ). I want the customers to help shape the brand. What's next will likely come from their thoughts and feedback and continue to evolve from there.
Photography — Viktor Jelinek , Liass NYC
Interview — Nora Jelinek
Editor — Victoria Bagger