Designer Ange Todd (right) and her daughter Lucy (left) both wearing Isaac + Lulu Summer 2016.
Ange Todd is the designer of contemporary womenswear label Isaac + Lulu which is in its sixth season and is part of Caroline Sills’ stable of brands. The label is a collaboration with Caroline Sills’ brand manager Toni Sills and is named after their children. Ange has been in fashion for many years and has relished the opportunity to create a new, modern brand that is as beloved by her as it is by her daughter, Lucy.
We caught up with Ange to find out more about Isaac + Lulu, what inspires her collections and the role that social media plays in the brand.
How did you get into fashion and what made you become a designer?
From a very young age I would make garments for myself, it was very instinctive and something I wanted to pursue as a career. After returning from a eventful OE, culminating with 6 months in NY, I enrolled at Massey University and studied Fashion Design and Technology, back in the 90’s. I learnt how to draw, pattern-make and tailor, in addition to making some lifelong friends. I come from a family of tailors and costume designers, so I guess it must be in my blood.
Do you have a muse or a type of woman in mind when you’re creating collections for Isaac + Lulu?
There are so many things that inspire me and generally they are not other designers, while they are important, the design process is more driven by the experiences and things I love, like travel, textiles, architecture, people, sport and nature. Lifestyle now plays a very big role in creating a collection, it is constantly evolving and instinctively if you dig deep enough the next big thing will be something you feel you are wanting. People that inspire me are creative, positive, motivated and dynamic, there are many of these special people around and I seek these people out as they fuel me to bring out the absolute best.
Where did the idea for Isaac + Lulu come from and what’s the design philosophy behind the label?
Isaac + Lulu is in its sixth season now, born from the desire to create a lifestyle collection without any strong preconceptions, but with the simple ethos of creating styles we love and want to wear. This very simple and pure approach has resulted in a fresh and accessible collection of styles that range from joggers and work out tees, to party dresses. While age isn’t specific and our audience is classified as sharing our ‘taste and lifestyle’ we are keen to create product that will be enjoyed by the next generation coming into our lives, our gorgeous kids. Lucy (Lulu), my daughter provides inspiration for each collection, she is sporty, confident, ambitious and radiant and to see her as comfortable in Isaac + Lulu as I am, is one of my greatest rewards. Fortunately, there are more than two of us hooked on I + L, and with each new season the brand enjoys a wave of growth and ensuing demand.
Looks from Isaac + Lulu’s Summer 2016/17 collection.
Tell us about your latest collection for Summer 2016/17?
This summer has been one of my favourite collections and was inspired by my travels to Turkey and Greece last year where I sailed on a traditional gullet along the beautiful Mediterranean coast with its turquoise water, and picturesque seaside villages nestled into the barren hills. The collection pieces are laced with nostalgia, with floating silhouettes, floral prints, and soft gathers – a relaxed and luxe wardrobe fit for any summer adventure.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your brand?
That is actually quite a difficult question to answer as I think that personal style is constantly evolving, especially when you are working in fashion, and a reinvention takes place every season with each new collection. I love clothes I can be active in, as I generally maintain a pretty fast pace in all that I do! Silhouette, design and quality are all really important to me, as are natural tactile fabrications. I am as happy in head to toe black as I am in jeans and a tee, or a floral maxi dress. I think these factors all influence the brand. The only hard and fast rule is to feel good!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been so many great moments, but what really gives me a buzz, is seeing people looking and feeling special in my designs, this is the best reward.
What role does social media play in your brand and has it changed how you do things at all?
Social media has played an enormous role in launching and building Isaac + Lulu. It is powerful in establishing and humanising a brand, building brand authority and familiarity, and I really enjoy the sincerity of social media, as it creates a conversation around our brand and our followers join in building its identity. It drives sales, but with a fresh approach, consumers choosing to purchase a brand from its social media profile and activity, generates a certain freedom and power that traditional marketing cannot easily achieve.
Looks from Isaac + Lulu’s Summer 2016/17 collection.
With the increasingly quick pace of production to shop floor has the increased speed of the industry changed how you wholesale or retail?
This is definitely a consideration for wholesale, but as we are not in fast fashion and our collections are unique and of high quality, we do not have the same pressures as trend driven price pointed brands. With respect to retail, yes, it has changed how we retail, we need to keep our stores fresh and give our returning customers a new experience in store on every visit. This is no easy undertaking and involves intensive forward planning of merchandising, regular and appropriate drops of product, and co-ordinating marketing activity.
The majority of your garments are currently produced in New Zealand, how do you feel about the local production industry and was it important to you to keep most of your production here?
It’s really important to me to keep as much product home grown as possible, but to be competitive we need a variety of price points, our offshore component of knitwear allows us to provide this cross section in pricing to our customers, making the brand accessible to a wider audience.