Interview: Women's Clothing Brand LIVELY On The Key To Modern Apparel Design
Ahead of her appearance on Anomaly's 'Designing for Modern Women' panel discussion, LIVELY's CEO and founder speaks to the importance of listening to its community of wearers and reflecting their needs in its design
While apparel has come a long way since the days of primarily male designers creating women's apparel, even today's more gender-equal climate can leave female consumers lacking in options that truly cater to their modern needs and lifestyles. LIVELY, women's intimate, swim and activewear apparel brand, is making waves in the retail and design worlds, taking a unique ambassador-led approach to building a community of real women around its brand from whom it directly gathers insights to reflect in its merchandise and experience.
Ahead of her appearance on Anomaly and PSFK's ‘Designing for Modern Women‘ panel discussion, taking place this upcoming Tuesday, May 7, PSFK caught up with LIVELY's CEO and founder, Michelle Cordeiro Grant, to find out more about how the DTC brand prioritizes engaging with and listening to its community to design apparel that allows women to feel fashionable, comfortable and—most importantly—like themselves.
What are some of the trends you've noticed in the women's retail market, and that you're leveraging at LIVELY?
Retail has gone through an interesting evolution: Several years ago, it was all about brick & mortar experiences, then more recently, as DTC really took off, everything was about digital experiences.
A big trend that we’re seeing and pursuing now is having both a digital and physical presence. LIVELY started as a DTC brand online, but after doing several popups around the U.S., we realized how important it is to also have physical stores so we can connect with our community in-person. Currently, we have a store in New York, with plans to open more stores around the country.
Another trend we’re seeing is a shift away from products that are made for women with the significant other in mind, toward more and more products that are suited for what women want from a style and functionality perspective when they look at themselves. In the intimate apparel category specifically, bras have previously been made in such a way that women had to conform in order to fit into them, leading to that feeling of excitement about taking them off at the end of the day.
LIVELY bras, on the other hand, are made specifically to conform to womens’ bodies so they actually enjoy and feel comfortable in the product they’re wearing throughout their busy days and weeks.
What do you believe today's women want most out of their apparel, and how does it need to maintain a balance between function and fashion?
One of my biggest motivations behind founding LIVELY came from what I, as a woman, felt was a gap in the lingerie market. Today’s women want to wear high-quality apparel that they feel good about themselves in. The entire premise behind what we call “Leisurée” is to create highly functional products that are inclusive of a wide range of sizes and blur the aesthetic lines between lingerie, active and swim, while also having long-lasting style relevance.
What should good design for modern women ideally do, in your opinion, and how can retailers better enable it?
Good design should be inclusive of different shapes, sizes and skin tones. Retailers can better enable these qualities by first and foremost listening to who their community is, what they want and where their interests are, and then figuring out from a logistical standpoint what is realistic in terms of rollout.
What are some of the benefits, and challenges, of selling DTC versus mass retail in terms of engaging with and delivering on consumers' expectations? Could you describe how you listen to women and incorporate their feedback?
A couple of the benefits of our partnership with Nordstrom are that it allows us to explore brick & mortar in more areas across the country in an elegant way, and it also allows us to ship to our international customers in a seamless way.
The core of the LIVELY brand has always been to understand who our customers are and to figure out where their interests lie. We are constantly engaging with our 70,000 Ambassadors on social media, through surveys and in-person at our store events, so we can hear what is important to them and figure out how we can incorporate their feedback into our brand and products.
Whom do you have in mind when you design for your customer, and who are your primary consumers?
Quality, style, comfort and accessibility are all top of mind when we think about designing new products. Our primary consumers are entire households! A young woman might come into our store or shop on our website, and after buying something she loves for herself, she will tell her mom about it too. We have several stories of grandmothers, mothers and daughters all #LivingLIVELY.
What do you hope to share on Anomaly and PSFK's upcoming “Designing for Modern Women” panel?
I’d love to discuss our ambassador program in particular, and how this community has really helped shape & build the LIVELY brand.
What's next for the future of LIVELY—anything, say 1-2 years out you can share?
We’re looking at expanding our physical retail presence in the U.S.
LIVELY is designing for modern women by integrating insights from its community of wearers and ambassadors into its apparel and experience. For more from Michelle Cordeiro Grant, come see her speak on a panel discussion, “Designing for Modern Women,” hosted in New York City by Anomaly and PSFK. There, female pioneers ranging from apparel and personal care to beauty design will discuss creating products and experiences for women’s diverse bodies, unique health needs, preferences and more. More information here.