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In The Studio With LIANA: Reimagining Classics For The Now

LIANA is the brand every essentials-lover should know. Founded in 2017 by Lili Chemla, the brand now has its roots in both Los Angeles and New York. From T-shirts to track pants, her pieces shine (literally). For Chemla, basics don’t need to be boring. Her design process always begins with fabric sourcing; she reinvisions the same cuts with unique fabrics like glitter, mesh, and velvet.  We stopped by her DTLA studio to check out some samples and chat with the designer herself.

Starting “Liana” began when you wanted to elevate your own comfortable uniform – what was the first piece you made?

I started with our classic “Margo Tee” in a vintage stripe with a glitter contrast neckband. The vision behind this style and LIANA in general has always been never sacrificing comfort for style when you can have both, I think this is a perfect example.

For those who don’t know, what is your uniform?

I am always in our black burnout pants, our Margo or Millie tee, socks and sneakers.

The thing I love most about the burnout pants is they always get mistaken for corduroy pants but they’re actually stretch mesh and velvet stripes with an elastic waistband. You feel like you’re in sweatpants and look like you’re in an appropriate work outfit.

The clothing you produce is “ethically sourced and executed” – what does that mean for “LIANA”, and why is taking ethics and sustainability into consideration important for you?

At LIANA we have always partnered with local LA factories. It’s important to us on many levels, including supporting local businesses as well as giving us the ability to control both quantity and quality.

Producing overseas generally requires large production minimums, which can often lead to overproduction and waste of material…or so I’ve heard. Having the ability to cut closer to order means eliminating that potential for waste and also being able to ensure good working conditions within the factories.

Tell us a bit about your design process. Typically, how long does one piece take: start to finish?

I always start my design process with fabric sourcing. We are constantly re-imagining the same bodies in unique fabrics; re-envisioning pieces that our customers love and trust, while also bringing a few new bodies to the market that feel exciting for the particular season. From concept to execution of a first sample it takes anywhere from 10 days to a few weeks.

As a business owner, what’s been your most exciting moment so far?

One of the most exciting constants at LIANA is that our plain Margo Tee remains a best seller. There are a million plain white shirts out there, and seeing people constantly order and re-order ours feels very rewarding.

What’s something you wish someone had told you before you started your brand?

There are many ups and downs, and the ups make all the downs worth it.

In what dream scenarios do you imagine your clothing being worn?

From breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, to out at night, to bed.

A little bit about you:

What are three things that make you happy?

Alone time, face masks, and my dog.

In what environment do you cultivate your best ideas?

My office in LA, next to all of our product and fabrics.

When you’re lounging in a comfortable t-shirt + sweats, what is your favorite thing to read, snack on, and listen to?

Favorite thing to read: The Shade Room.

Favorite thing to snack on: Matts Munchies.

Favorite thing to listen to: Currently the Dr. Death podcast.

What’s next?

That’s for me to know and everyone to find out ! 

Images courtesy of  Baptise Briel & Ella Jayes

Stay tuned to Milk for more studio visits.

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