The Designer Interview: Ana Escobar from LMND
It’s a sunny 30 degree day when we sit down to talk to Ana Escobar, an apt adjective that matches the temperament and unwavering positivity of the woman whose fashion label LMND proposes a celebration of ‘Summer All Year Round.’
Though she was born in Australia, Escobar was raised in Colombia. Escobar says this is where her love for bright colours originates. “Living in Colombia, I was surrounded by colour. Our houses are in every single colour. You don’t notice it when you’re there but when I travel back, I really notice just how surrounded by colour you are.” The natural landscape of the country where she grew up also deeply informs her confident use of saturated hues. “We have a backdrop of a lot of green in Colombia with the mountains and the trees, there’s this feeling that colour is always around you.”
After moving back to Australia after graduating from university in Colombia, Ana noted that the majority of the Australian population favoured dressing in shades of black, grey, or white–a confronting desaturation of tones compared to her vivid world of colour in Colombia. “I started LMND with shades like ‘Limoncello’, and ‘Pink Gelato’; everything was super, super bright.” The customers loved her vision –a welcome repose from neutral and monochrome basics that are overly produced in the market. “Those colours became staple colours for us.”
The use of colour is such an important facet of LMND’s success and it’s partially owed to the method of dyeing used to create each style. “Colour has to have dimension to it. If you have something that is pre-dyed, and then you make a shirt with it, it looks flat. Our shirts are all made in white, and then we dye it to match our swatches. They come back with such an intensity.” It is this method of garment dyeing each piece of clothing that gives the clothes their uniquely rich colouring. “We have customers come in and say they’ve washed their shirts 100 times and it’s still just as bright.” They also pre-wash every style to make sure the featherweight cotton feels super soft and pre-loved when you wear it.
Following her graduation, Escobar began working at Australian label Oroton, eventually working her way up to become the label’s creative director and head accessories designer. Escobar describes her time at Oroton as “an intense course on what it is to be Australian.” Stating that “Suddenly, I was there telling the Australian story, for an Australian label with my Colombian accent…I felt like a representative for Tourism Australia because the Australian narrative was so imprinted in what the brand was, that it meant I had to have a deep understanding of what it meant.”
For Escobar, LMND felt like the natural next step for her career. “Everything came together really organically. I never wanted to be a designer with my name on the door,” Escobar says, “I saw this gap in the market. I really couldn’t find colours in basics. Any time colour was put into a basic, it had a twist on it that made it no longer a basic.”
Escobar has always run the label as a customer-led project, maintaining a feeling that the label was always meant as an offering for her customers and never designing with herself in mind. “Customers want to have conversations; they want to understand the brand. If ten customers are telling me a shirt needs pockets, then I really do need to add pockets.” It was this conversational, almost collaborative approach to design that allowed LMND to create clothing that resonates so profoundly with its customers. Garments are fine-tuned to the point that clientele will buy multiple colours in each style.
The devil is in the detail for LMND, and Escobar has refined her eye to the point that she can recognise millimetre discrepancies. “Oroton taught me that. Accessories are so specific, down to the millimetre.” She states that to envision “basics” is the hardest brief you can give a designer because every little detail has to be perfect to garner the garments worth in an industry saturated by label’s promoting “basics.”
The name LMND, Lemonade, came after Escobar’s exit from the retail industry necessitated a desire for a fresh start. “I felt I needed to go back to basics, to what actually makes me tick and what I actually love so I needed a name that embodied that easy, democratic, not trying too hard energy.” Of Lemonade, she says “It’s only two ingredients, it’s easy to make, everybody can have it–it’s super democratic, but you can dress a lemonade up or down–you can serve a lemonade any way and it looks good.” There is something nostalgic in the name, an ode to bygone summer days and a yearning for an endless summer with lemonade stands and the simple sweet days of childhood–an inspiration that the label hopes to convey through its brightly coloured separates.