Portugal fashion

Laura Ashley returns to fashion with Batsheva’s collaboration – WWD

Laura Ashley executives did not have to sell Batsheva Hay for a collaboration.

“I’m a huge Laura Ashley fan because I literally knew the clothes. This was my main point of inspiration, ”said the New York-based designer. “I have been the company for years.

Starting today, buyers in the US and UK can purchase her 15 collaborative designs online from Laura Ashley. Hay didn’t need to be convinced when the floral-print dress company approached her in August 2020 to team up. Growing up in Queens, New York, her mother loved printed textiles, meaning as a child Hay had Laura Ashley sheets, Laura Ashley bedspread, and Laura Ashley clothes. “It was such a captivating world for me – all the Laura Ashley stuff,” Hay said.

Personal preferences aside, the designer said the brand’s prints are “amazing, beautiful and truly stand the test of time.” Like Liberty of London, Laura Ashley stands out with her floral designs, the designer said. “Laura Ashley is her own thing. Plus, the fantasy that they create all over the world, this Welsh countryside sort of thing works for so many different women. The shapes of their clothes are so comfortable and functional with pockets. That’s why I got into it. They tap into fantasy in a way, but also in a very practical way. “

Teaming up with a womenswear fashion designer is a first for Laura Ashley, who is rebuilding herself after decades of hardship. In March, Gordon Brothers acquired the brand, archives and intellectual property. As for what took so long to partner with a designer, the company’s global president, Carolyn D’Angelo, said, “Obviously the company was struggling, that’s when where Gordon Brothers came in and bought the brand. They were in administration before that. I can’t speak to what happened before the administration. But if someone is in administration, it doesn’t necessarily work on all cylinders. “

Scheduled to celebrate her 70th birthday in 2023, Laura Ashley relaunched her home collection in March with UK online retailer Next. Other retailers will offer the door-to-door line at a later date. Plans are underway for Laura Ashley to bring fashion back to the forefront of the business. Next year, more collaborations across different fashion categories will debut to bring the name back to market. “Working with people like Batsheva has been wonderful for us. She is a huge fan of the brand and has been so inspired by the brand, ”D’Angelo said.

While the collaboration with Batsheva is brand new, Laura Ashley’s existing clothes offered online on the company’s site are leftovers from her stores. This limited product is in the process of “stopping”. said d’Angelo. “It wasn’t a bad product, but it’s not a product we’re looking at. Fashion today is very small, because we don’t have the product. In Japan we have fashion and home, which is literally just beginning. Fashion follows almost as well as the house. When we do fashion, there will be regional differences, depending on the region. “

With 40 stores in South Korea, eight stores in Japan, and stores in Spain, Portugal and other parts of the world, the company has yet to determine whether the United States will open. These retail partners use Laura Ashley’s name and buy products to put in stores, D’Angelo said.

There will most likely be new hires to support the fashion, but the Gordon Brothers model is a slight asset with the emphasis on licensing. Women will be at the heart of fashion. Laura Ashley collaborated with Rag & Bone a few years ago for men’s clothing, a category she hopes to bring back. Children’s clothing has seen great success in recent years and the brand recently launched girls’ dresses in the UK with Next. “Our hope is that we partner with some key fashion licensees,” D’Angelo said, adding that a robust fashion assortment is slated for 2023.

She declined to comment on the projected volume for the Batsheva collaboration. “It’s not an extremely extensive collection, but it’s a very well-thought-out product collection that works together,” D’Angelo said. “It’s really about the perception of the Laura Ashley brand, winning new consumers and seeing how Batsheva has used our models and updated them in a more modern way. Getting existing and new consumers to see the Laura Ashley brand in today’s environment is really important to us.

Travel restrictions linked to the pandemic have banned visiting the company’s archives in Wales, but Hay is still hoping to dive into it at some point. Rather than reworking the tried and true, working remotely, she extracted from the archives some things that were perhaps not the most popular or used fabrics and silhouettes. Some of the archival line drawings that were digitized for Hay had “interesting, beautiful and dramatic” shapes. She drew on novelty and played with things that hadn’t been discovered in a while “with a sense of fun”. Translation – the neon colors were infused into an understated floral print in beige or by mixing an ’80s yellow print with an old-fashioned, conservative print.

There are also two looks for children in the exclusive line. Mother-daughter styles were one aspect of Laura Ashley that Hay always loved and intended to include. “I also have a daughter. Funny how the whole womenswear industry has swept me away. But it was fun seeing that mother-daughter thing I started doing again. My first looks were mother-daughter looks, ”said Hay.

Batsheva Hay wearing one of his collaborative designs for Laura Ashley.
Alexei Hay / Courtesy of Batsheva Hay

Somehow, Laura Ashley still resonates with legions of consumers decades after the death of her namesake British founder in 1985 at the age of 60. To update the publicity, Hay wears her designs in campaign images taken by her photographer husband, Alexei. After doing this when starting her own collection and business, the designer decided a similar route made sense for Laura Ashley, which was a family business. The photos include reconstructions of Laura Ashley’s catalog images, such as Hay running on train tracks with a mat suitcase reminiscent of a catalog cover titled “New Horizons.” Collectively, the Manhattan-centric clichés are meant to evoke, “Who is she?” What is she doing running around town in Laura Ashley? “

The fact that Ashley started her business with her husband Bernard was another connection point for Hay. “She screen printed napkins at home and he took care of the paperwork. I started going to pattern makers and seamstresses with my fabrics and shapes. When I got home my husband would say, “Let’s go to the park and take pictures of them. I put them on and he photographed me. It was part of building the brand, thus developing an image. He always helps me with editorial and creative shoots. We are really working together to create these images, ”said Hay.

Another pandemic project they worked on were two cookbook lookbooks, featuring women wearing Hay designs in their kitchens and cooking up their favorite dishes. Seeking a publisher, the plan is to turn those 100 images into a cookbook and hopefully donate a percentage of the proceeds to a food bank. The first is a children’s collaboration with home sewer and Georgia-based Instagrammer Jabella Fleur. Hay has another ongoing collaboration with Anna Sui.

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