When is the right time to launch a line of luxury lingerie? For Karolina Laskowska, it turned out to be in her early 20s.
While many young women are still figuring out what to do with their lives---or simply finishing up college, as I was at that age--others are driven to fulfill their creative potential.
Karolina Laskowska Lingerie designs pay homage to the past with a modern, sensual twist. These vintage-inspired pieces are for the empowered woman, one who owns her sexuality and her destiny. The latest 'Celestial Bodies' collection reflects the beauty of constellations and the female form through the language of exquisite laces, embroidery, and leather. I can't wait to see how the founder's artistic vision evolves and changes as she grows her business.
Who's the bold young woman behind this young, award-winning brand? The 24-year-old designer graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions, including how her first bra buying experience influenced her view of bra wear.
In your bio, you say “lingerie called you." In what way?
When I finished school at 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’d got onto a year long Foundation course in Art & Design to delay the decision-making process a little longer, but I was initially leaning towards studying either linguistics or law. My thought process at the time was that the course was my way of saying goodbye to being creative. It was that Summer, however, that I discovered the existence of the Contour Fashion degree – a BA dedicated entirely to lingerie design! I’d already developed a pretty strong interest in corsets and lingerie so discovering the course at that particular moment felt like a sign.
What was your first bra buying experience?
My actual first experience wasn’t particularly pleasant, mostly because I desperately didn’t want to wear one. I would have been in my early teens and was in a situation where it was starting to be socially unacceptable not to wear a bra, even though I found them hideously uncomfortable and still had small breasts. I suppose it didn’t help that at my first ‘fitting’ I was told that my size was 36A, which is laughable given that I was smaller then and now have a 27” ribcage. Fortunately, when I was 16, my mother took me for a proper fitting at Rigby & Peller. It changed all of my previous opinions of about bras: I finally had something that was comfortable, fit well and made me feel confident. From then on, I just spiralled down into lingerie obsession!
What’s been your greatest business challenge as a solo entrepreneur?
Funding and cashflow. I started the business when I was at university, mostly due to the fact that I was struggling to find a Summer job. I managed to receive a very small grant from my university’s business department; £250 seemed like a huge amount of money at the time, but realistically all it covered was a train fare, a couple of boxes of elastic and some fabric. It was enough to grow my business into what it is now, though it does become frustrating at how slowly things develop compared to other independent brands that have significant investment behind them. My recent production run took nearly a year of saving which felt painfully slow given the pace that fashion normally moves at.
What do you think is the biggest misconception women have regarding purchasing designer/luxury lingerie?
I’d say one of the biggest misconceptions come down to expectations and perceptions of the value of luxury lingerie. Most consumers simply don’t have the understanding of what things cost and why. This can mostly be narrowed down to areas like materials and production. Luxury lingerie often uses fabrics such as silk and leavers lace, which are comparatively fragile and lack the longevity of cheaper fabrics such as polyester and raschel lace. To many women, this can be confusing as despite paying more for the product, it simply won’t last as long. There’s also a dramatic lack of understanding about how lingerie is made. At every price point, your lingerie will be sewn by human beings using extremely complex machinery. Luxury brands are more likely to use ethical factories and produce on small scales, so inevitably this means increased costs in the final product. It isn’t fair to compare the price points of luxury brands to fashion chain ones, as the business models operate on completely different levels.
If you want to know how the recent Brexit vote may impact independent UK lingerie designers, please read Karolina's post on the subject at The Lingerie Addict.
Here's a look at Karolina Laskowska and a few if her designs from a recent photoshoot. Visit her website to find her complete collections.
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