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Having only launched their label a little over a year ago, designers Lauren Rodriguez and Michael Freels have already carved out a space within the crowded fashion sphere. Championing a reimagined all-American aesthetic informed by a coterie of references from The Wizard of Oz’s Kansan heroine to the saturated photography of William Eggleston, LOROD blends elements of frontier fashion with utilitarianism, resulting in a collection of expertly constructed separates with universal appeal. “Utility is important in day-to day wardrobes – workwear is practical and timeless. It fits seamlessly into any wardrobe,” explains Rodriguez.
More than merely echoing the ongoing Americana trend, the Parsons graduates are creating clothes which question what it means to be American today. Preferring to cast their own friends and circle of creatives over traditional models, the duo is going against the grain of fashion week in more ways than one. Offering pre-collections only, the emphasis remains firmly on craftsmanship and quality over season-led trends and fast fashion.
As the autumn offering arrives in-store and online, we caught up with the designers to discuss how their homeland informs their collections and what we can expect from the brand that has already caught the attention – and wardrobes – of women worldwide.
The Land of the Free has long held intrigue and inspiration for creatives, why do you think this still holds so much interest today?
LR: America has such a rich visual history comprised of so many different types of inspiring cultures and people. I think the U.S. is interesting because of how heterogeneous it is. There’s something for everyone.
MF: At a time of so much political polarity and instability with our current administrations, we're challenged to question what it means to be American and to confront the unease we feel with that identity today. We hope to present an alternative vision – one that's inclusive, empathetic, optimistic, and thoughtful.
What three words do you think best describe your brand?
LR: Laid-back, considered, stoic.
MF: Considered, approachable, rigorous.
You’ve pictured Dorothy in some of your moodboards, if you could see any fictional characters in your clothes who would it be?
LR:Vivian Rutledge played by Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, Nancy Drew, Benny The Jet Rodriguez from The Sandlot and Dottie Hinson from A League of Their Own.
The aesthetic of the American West has been a recurring theme for you, and you also design and manufacture everything in the USA. Do you anticipate your homeland being entrenched in your designs forever or do you think you’ll later look to other countries and cultures?
LR: American utility will always be the foundation for LOROD but America is comprised of people with roots and ancestors from all over the world. I think it’s important that other countries and cultures are a part of the narrative and inspiration, but garments will continue to be manufactured in the U.S.
What is it about American workwear that you find so compelling?
MF: I am personally compelled by the ways in which these garments have evolved throughout history – they have become a canvas for reinterpretation and reflect the cultural history of American labour and leisure. There is also an incredible attention to detail in the cut and finish of these garments that we find inspiring.
LR: I am drawn to the purity and the functionality of American workwear.
Some of the American tropes evident in your work are quite traditional, how do you reimagine these for a contemporary audience? And what purpose do you think these serve in a modern wardrobe?
MF: We hope to re-contextualise and refine archetypal American garments through thoughtful cutting, finishing, and fabrication that responds to modern dressing. The history of American fashion places an importance on function, ease, and the everyday that we are drawn to considering.
The name LOROD stems from a childhood nickname, Lauren, was it important to have an element of the familial?
LR: Personal histories are important in telling any story and the name LOROD definitely makes me think of my upbringing and the people who shaped me which is important. Mostly I like that LOROD sounds a bit masculine and all-American. People often think of muscle cars when they hear it, which I love.
What has been your favourite thing that you’ve made since launching the brand in 2015?
LR: Our SS17 carpenter pant (which we repeat a version of every season). They’ve worn in so well that people think they’re vintage.
MF: The pieces that I enjoy the most are the ones that become a labour of love – our patchwork leather skirt from Pre-Fall 18 is bias cut in three different types of leather with 36 pattern pieces and is one of my favourites.
What about your favourite piece from the Harvey Nichols edit?
LR: I love the Landscape Sweater. It’s a really fun piece and it’s so cosy with jeans.
MF: I love the Landscape Jacquard wool jumper.
The American cultural landscape is always evident – if not explicit – in your designs, how are you exploring this for your next collection?
MF: There is a nostalgic tendency in the collection that we hope to challenge moving forward – I think that it is important to acknowledge the history of the cultural landscape while also considering what new representations of that culture look like to reflect the contemporary moment.
“We want our shows to be a creative space where the industry can see what we’ve been working on and catch up with people in our community. Our clothes are definitely a reflection of that – we want them to feel approachable.”