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Meet The Brains Behind Fashion's New Favorite Brand: LOROD

Lauren Rodriguez and Michael Freels are the two Parsons graduates responsible for the birth of LOROD—an innovative clothing brand made entirely in the USA. Although the brand is just a few years old, the pair have already made quite the debut in the fashion world. Not only have they been featured in a variety of stores like Opening Ceremony and La Garçonne, but they’ve also been given the opportunity to collaborate with designers such as Manolo Blahnik. Their modern take on American classics is constantly evolving with each line they create, and the brand’s most recent presentation was held just a matter of two days ago. The future looks bright for LOROD, so keep your eyes peeled.

You studied fine art in schoolhow did you decide to make the switch into fashion?

Rodriguez: Although I studied Painting + Sculpture in college I was always interested in Fashion Design and anticipated connecting my arts education to design in one way or another. I wanted to start a company that could be an intersection for creative practices.

Why did you want to start LOROD?

Rodriguez: I always knew I wanted to start a company and after I graduated from college I noticed how many incredible creative people I was surrounded by in my community and felt strongly about trying to find connection between them. Downtown Manhattan has the ability to be a really small intimate community, you don’t need to look far to find photographers, graphic designers, stylists, interior designers, and artists. It gives me a whole new appreciation for my friends now that I’ve been able to work with them professionally. That’s the best part about LOROD,  we get to constantly work with our friends and people in our community to create really special content.

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative community?

Freels: Having gone to art school in New York, we are constantly surrounded by artists, designers, writers, and creatives from all walks of life that help to inspire the work that we do. A strong dialogue with our peers is imperative in bringing LOROD to life.

What does the intersection between art and fashion mean for you?

Rodriguez: I think it’s imperative that they both inform one another. We look to artists each season to find inspiration for the collection whether it be color palette, structure or subject. A lot of the time I think the intersection is subconscious but we try and bring in artist collaborations in as many forms as possible.

All your clothes are made locally—can you share some insight on why it is important to do this?

Freels: We really value the ability to support and preserve the New York garment district—an industry that supports tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs that have been slowly disappearing in the past few decades. We also love the ability to have strong oversight on the development and production of our pieces as the integrity of precise construction is incredibly important to the brand.

How do you reference for each new collection you create?

Freels: We begin each season with a ton visual research, textual research, and vintage garment sourcing as a jumping-off point that we then narrow down to a handful of concise references. For Pre-Fall 2018, we collaged various interpretations of the American West—everything from the stylized yokes and color blocking of 1950’s ranch wear to literal representations of the western landscape.

How do you decide on who to cast for your shows?

Freels: We would like for our casting to reflect our community in both its diversity and its strength. For Pre-Fall 2018, we were fortunate enough to work with Ben Grimes who helped in bringing to life an elevated casting that reflected this goal

In your presentation you had objects that were worn as jewelry—how and why did you decide to do this?

Rodriguez: We wanted to create satisfying objects that can be utilized in multiple ways. I keep lots of meaningful objects around my home and I am interested in finding a way for those objects to be wearable or functional in someway.

Although LOROD is still a young brand, it has already had vast success via its recognition by companies such as Opening Ceremony, and collaborations with other designers such as Manolo Blahnik—can you talk about these collaborations?

Rodriguez: We’ve been really fortunate to have gotten a lot of amazing support early on during this process. Being interconnected to so many wonderful people in the city, we’ve been able to collaborate with people and brands we admire. As a young brand with limited resources it’s important for us to collaborate when we can.

What direction do you see LOROD going in?

Rodriguez: LOROD is definitely still an evolution of many things but I’d like to eventually provide a fuller offering of goods and accessories.

Images courtesy of Oliver Fernandez

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