Lara Intimates

Cindy (left) and Faith (right,) co-founders of Lara Intimates.

While studying lingerie and swimwear design at The London College of Fashion Cindy Liberman (left) and Faith Leeves came up with the idea to create an eco-friendly alternative to conventional lingerie brands. “We got the idea in October 2016 and wanted to have a really inclusive range,” says Liberman.

Lara Intimates Kickstarter underwear set

In May 2017 they did a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and raised just under £23,000 hitting their target. “Between July and August and part of September we were making all of those orders,” she says. “That was almost 500 products so we were learning how this small batch manufacturing system works for the first time.”

Lara Intimates office sign.

When it came to finding space for a studio, the owner of Simmons Bar Soho had a spare room upstairs. “He said it’s yours if you want it and it was great space in a really good location,” she said. “Now one half of the room is the giant pattern cutting table and fabrics and sewing machines and the other side has a little fitting room and products so girls who come in can shop.”

Lara Intimates business plan

Liberman and Leeves wanted to include a size range of 28A to 36E but found that factories wanted millions of pounds to produce a minimum batch. “We didn’t need 30 size 28A bras sitting around so it didn’t make sense to go with a factory that does minimum quantities, so we decided let’s set up a little factory ourselves”.

Surplus material used by Lara Intimates

In line with wanting to be sustainable, they decided to use surplus material. “There’s a supplier in England that used to own a lingerie factory and when jobs started getting shipped overseas he started buying surplus from brands that he used to work for,” she says. “Everything that they were going to throw away they now ship to him and he takes it and sells it.”

Lara Intimates co-founder Faith pattern cutting

The idea for the business came to them while looking for work. "I was trying to find a job here doing lingerie design and pattern cutting to find everybody was outsourcing, 60 per cent of the world’s bras are made in China," she says. " So our skills were just completely useless and we were like this is not OK. There’s hundreds of students graduating every year with these skills and they nowhere to use them," she adds

Lara Intimates customer bra fitting.

As well as offering a size range of 28A – 36E, Lara offer a measuring service online to get customers wearing the correct size.  “If you measure 30 under the bust one retailer you might add two inches, another retailer might add four inches,” she adds. “So, we do it based on actual measurements. If you measure 28 then you wear a 28-band size.”