Jenny (left) and Brenda (right) from LEO+BE. Image supplied.
Youthful new label LEO+BE launches this week and it’s a charming mix of thirty interchangeable ready-to-wear pieces by Ketz-Ke designer Jenny Drury in partnership with her sister Brenda Wilkinson. The talented duo have 29 years in the fashion industry and created the playful new label to cater to millennials looking for fresh, fashion-forward outfits.
We caught up with Jenny to find out more about what inspired their first collection for LEO+BE, what it’s like working with her sister and where they see LEO+BE going?
Where did the idea come from for LEO+BE?
We saw a space in the market to cater to the younger fashion lover who is interested in trendsetting, affordable styles that are easily intermixed with her current wardrobe. LEO+BE slots effortlessly into the cool girl’s answer to easy, fresh-faced style that is both adventurous and feminine, infusing minimal, simplistic basics with playful pieces. Think separates and easy day dresses in sweet pastels, crisp natural fabrics and delicate prints.
Whilst LEO+BE is a younger sister to Ketz-ke, the two have very separate identities. LEO+BE has its own unique, playful styling, a gentle, pastel-toned palette, and for the majority, a different customer.
The name LEO+BE is a reference to us as the designers – ‘LEO’ representing my (Jenny’s) star sign and ‘BE’ the initial for Brenda!
What’s the inspiration behind your first collection?
LEO+BE draws inspiration from musings past and present – daydreams, travels and modern adventures creating ready to wear styles that are confident, distinctive and versatile. For our debut spring collection, we wanted to create a collection of youthful, approachable basics and playful pieces that represented the vision of the brand.
What are your favourite pieces from the spring collection and why?
My favourite outfit from the spring collection is the LEO+BE Margot Top paired with the ever-so comfy Sienna Pant. Brenda’s go to is the fabulous Zoe Dungarees layered with the Blake Shirt.
How would you describe your personal style/s and how it influences your brand?
We both have very similar style – maybe it’s a sister thing! I’d like to think we are both able to predict upcoming trends, but we allow our personalities to shine through in the way that we dress. Perhaps my style could be described as more classic, while Brenda’s tends to be a bit edgier.
What has the response been like from your retailers to your new brand?
We have been working with many of our New Zealand retailers for over ten years now, and they have come to know us for quality assurance and reliability. We are so fortunate to have their trust and support for our business, and this meant that we were able to approach many of our existing Ketz-ke stockists with the new brand.
LEO+BE has provided us with an opportunity to attract a fresh and different customer base too, so we approached some new retailers as a result. Overall, the response to the debut collection from our existing and new stockists has been phenomenal, so we’re excited to see a steady climb in LEO+BE’s stockist numbers over the next year or so.
How do you find working on the business as sisters? What’s your working relationship like and are you responsible for different aspects of the business?
Brenda and I are not only great friends who share a love for design and fashion, we are sisters! I own the business, however we both lead the design. Every part of our process is collaborative – from the drawing board, to travelling the world to source fabrics, to how we market the range for our retailers. As sisters, we have the advantage of being able to argue until we get the best result!
Who is your ultimate muse for the brand or celebrity you would most like to see in LEO+BE?
Sofia Richie or Georgia Fowler would be the dream!
Have you got any exciting plans coming up for LEO+BE and where do you see your brand heading in the next few years?
The response to the debut collection has been phenomenal, so we’re excited to see LEO+BE continue to flourish with our summer collection, with more big plans on the horizon.