Interview: L Saha

Susana Ramos talked to Laboni, the designer behind L Saha, after her onschedule London Fashion Week Show. Photography by Rabi Sultan.

L Saha is a London-based luxury womenswear brand that was launched in 2014. The brand’s principles are to create timeless outfits with a pro-planet and pro-people approach. We had a chance to talk about her new collection called Qi (after an invisible force that runs through the universe).

“For every collection I am brewing thoughts in my mind,” says Laboni. “I’m inspired by different things and I see a lot of complaints about climate change and all the injustices that people have done, blaming each other. When I keep hearing these stories one thing constantly comes to mind. That the universe and earth was there before us and will stay after us and whatever we do, we are not powerful enough to change this. But if we do our bit towards the right things then it can look after itself and we don’t need to sign up to all these rebellions and petitions. So I think I wanted to reverse the complaining attitude.”

So how does a fashion brand with a deep philosophy apply a pro-planet and pro-people principle?

“From the way we source our materials and the way we package. Part of the collection you saw today was vintage fabrics. They are fabrics that have been around since the 1980s and not produced in a factory. Also, all our silks are 100% and can decompose without any problems,” Laboni continues. “Our embroiders have been in the trade for 4-5 generations and they are facing a lot of challenges to continue as there is not enough work for them. So, we hire them and some of our pieces have over 200 hours of embroidery work for a single piece.”

With this level of detailing, Laboni explains: “We use craftsmanship in a way that slows down the process immensely. So, the details you see are handmade and some of the items in the collection are 100% handmade.

“This will slow down the process of making and the process of selling. So, people will need to appreciate a single piece a lot more and not instead buying something and giving it up when it falls out of fashion. Timelessness, craftsmanship, and slow is what we are trying to say. Less is more is the approach. There are pieces in our collection returning from 3-4 seasons ago. For instance, the champagne suit that you saw in the collection today, the trouser was introduced in 2017 and now you see it again. We have enhanced it to suit the current taste and it blended well with the vintage material we sourced.”

It’s clear that there is a commitment here to a new way of working, of being sustainable and aiming towards a future of fashion that looks totally different. “That is a way of saying that fashion can be exciting without being wasteful. With the super brands they make a new 100look collection each time. But you should also encourage the use of the old and the new at the same time by creating new fresh looks with old pieces.”

Things are changing, though, and it looks like there is a reason to hope. Since beginning the brand, Laboni has seen some positive attitude shifts within the industry. “We have been doing this since the beginning of our brand, since 2014. At that time very few people were talking about it then. We have been advised by people in industry not to use the word timeless collection because they say fashion is not timeless. I was applying for this particular fashion week and they said don’t use the word timeless in your description. And here we go, Net-a-Porter has permanent collection and these bigger department stores are introducing timeless collections.”

A final word on the overall look of the collection: “I’m inclined to design outfits with a high neck for some reason. Some people like it, some don’t,” Laboni says. “It could be my style, I somehow feel inclined to do it. I grew up in India, so I think some of the designs have been inspired by what I grew up seeing. I think that I would probably see my parents wear this. It is very common in a kameez which is a type of top from India, and both men and women wear it. It is normally made with more embellished fabrics. I don’t think it is a conscious decision it just comes to me. I believe design should have an element of freedom with the customer in mind.”

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