We are introducing you Linda Charoenlab, founder and creative director of cruelty free streetwear label Lalalove, brand that is a reflection of her focused work, infinite fantasy and worn by many celebrities from all over the world.
Ambitious and goal driven woman from Thailand, spent her student years at London College of Fashion. Her early steps into the fashion world were marked by projects for international publications such as Dazed & Confused Japan, Intersection UK, Wallpaper and Elle. She also designed lookbooks for several fashion labels including Maria Francesca Pepe, Charles & Keith, and been creatively involved behind various retail campaigns and TVCs, including work for Toyota, Nike and Panasonic.
Being currently based in Bangkok, she noticed an emerging and growing market of young consumers who think before they buy. “Young people are a lot more educated when it comes to what and who they support. I think it's definitely changing the way designers and retailers move forward when it comes to production. Currently Thai designers are a lot more inclusive when it comes to locally produced materials. The use of sustainable Thai silks has increased by emerging and established local designers.”
Lalalove was born out of a simple t-shirt line that founder and designer Linda Charoenlab first dabbled in as a side project. Lalalove’s initial t-shirt line favoured style, individuality, comfort, simplicity and versatility—all the components that Lalalove still holds dear until today.
From a humble start, Lalalove has grown into a multinational clothing brand that produces unisex clothing favourited by international, forward thinking movers and shakers. Now a full-fledged garment line, Lalalove prides itself in being eco-friendly with all fabrics being 100 percent digitally made as opposed to the usual silk screening. Brand’s signature print designs are edgy, relevant and speaking volumes about its own design philosophy. Using vibrant colours and wry sense of humour, the prints often reflect current affairs and state of the world, delivering serious punches and poking fun at the same time.
The label is equal to her focused work and infinite fantasy. Linda is a big lover of fashion industry and therefore wanted to create a brand, that would have a positive impact. She had an opportunity to work with government fuelled initiatives, promoting locally sourced and cruelty free textiles and creating awareness within the market, which inspired her to lead the label in more conscious direction. “It has been a journey of growth for me and my label. We initially started by using organic cotton for our t-shirts and sweatshirts. Nine years down the line we've stopped using leather, fur an animal fibre all together and started to support locally produced fibres and textiles.”
Her vision and sense of style is strongly influenced by living in Bangkok and London. We wanted to know the process behind those funky, bold designs and where Linda gets her inspiration from.
“I'm privileged to travel frequently. I love traveling, feeling textures, seeing colours, embracing and celebrating different cultures, going to markets. This is a huge source of inspiration for me. I believe that trends and research is important, however I also make sure to stay true to the label’s DNA and local influence. In more recent years I’ve started to focus on key items, in term of creating smaller collections but offering something more specific.”
From inspiration her creative process starts with conceptualization by sketching, illustrating and experimenting with patterns, and she is also a big fan of collages. Most of the Lalalove textile production is done on a smaller scale. “Materials are hand woven which gives opportunities to a group of underprivileged but skilled workers. Because these crafters are from a lower income bracket, they do not hold certification. However, these weavers are working from their homes using fibbers from small scale local farms, because of this, textiles sizes are small, and colours may even vary, but the end result has a smaller impact on the environment.” It is a personal, one on one relationship between Linda and her workers “I pride myself on treating everyone I work with, with respect and compassion.”
If you want to get your hand on some of the Lalalove designs, check her Instagram Account shipping is worldwide. She also has stockist in New York and Los Angeles.
Fast fashion and its constant need for new collections and seasonal demand is according to Linda the biggest problem of the fashion industry. She also encourages consumers to start reading the care labels attached to the products they buy.
“We need to pay attention to where things come from, how they are made and what impact they have on the environment. The fashion industry is completely labour intensive. Everything you wear was made, handled and created by people. We need to start caring about human beings again. There is a huge disconnect between what we wear and where it comes from.” - Linda says.
To watch the eye-opening documentary The True Cost or TV series Sweatshop that pushed her forward with production for her label and influenced how the Lalalove team work together. Book Scraps by Cooper Hewitt helped her realise how old can be turn into new, how to reduce waste and made her think more about materials making, old stock and off cuts.
One of her favourite brand and inspiration is Stella McCartney. “I'm a big fan of her design philosophy as well as the production practices which include solar power.” Another big influence is Isabella Blow “for her style and vision” and Franco Moschino. “For his playful, visionary contribution to the industry. I can relate to his design aesthetic which brought me great joy growing up.”
And of course, we wanted a little Bangkok eco guide for you guys. “Living in Bangkok I'm lucky to have a diverse selection of options. This city has many eco-friendly, organic as well as vegetarian and vegan restaurants. I frequent at SPA foods in Sutthisan near my home, which is mostly vegan. It was birthed with the aim to offer healthy meat free solutions. I also love going to Pladib, a Japanese fusion restaurant. Which offers organically grown products which is farmed locally and sustainably, harvested daily from their farm in Nongyalong Phetchabuti. I also love to explore the markets, the Chatuchuk weekend market is quite an experience, you can find there many eco-friendly brands as well as second hand markets.”
This collection pays homage to multipurpose fabric Pa Kao Ma that holds a special place in the Thai ways of life in which Pakaoma is used as baby wrap, bath towel, cradle, toy, turban, items wrap and many more. A modern twist on a traditional legacy, funky take on Thailand’s much-loved weaving wisdom. Lalalove has a spun a new chapter in the history of Thai traditional loincloth – Pa Kao Ma – creating a fun & edgy ready-to-wear collection that celebrates the long-cherished art of Thai traditional loincloth making.
Linda and the team travelled all over the country to seek inspiration, discover the roots, and learn every little thing about this ancient art of Pa Kao Ma making, from yarn-dyeing to weaving, and how this cultural wisdom is connected to the very fabric of life in each and every single village or weaving community they visited.
Staying true to Lalalove’s signature fun-loving quirks, Linda combines the eye-candy colours and graphic patterns of Pa Kao Ma with inspirations from traditional children’s games such as Catching the last one in the line, Spider clutching the roof and Hiding a cloth behind one' s back, entrusting renowned illustrator and long-time Lalalove collaborator, Oh Hatairat, with recreating the playful scene using animal characters like elephants, crocodiles and monkeys on jumper, t-shirts, leggings, bombers, and ruffled dresses.
The colourful chequered pattern of Pakaoma is also reinterpreted into digital prints on synthetic materials such as spandex and lycra for Lalalove’s signature swimsuits and leggings, or even accessories such as sneakers and baseball caps. Hatairat’s cute drawings, in addition to appearing as exclusive hand-painted design, also appear as silk-screen print and hand-embroidery.
+ Words: Kristina Kasparova
Kristina Kasparova is a creative nomad, free spirit seeking real conversations and inspiring stories. Czech made, she is currently based in London, focused on more ethical fashion and sustainable life.