Layplan: The Pasifika designer duo taking Aotearoa’s fashion scene by storm
By Alice Lolohea
A whirl of candy-coloured hues and sweeping skirt hems makes Layplan the cutest gal on the fashion block. Since the label’s launch in 2013, Layplan has steadily grown a fanbase dedicated to the individual pieces designed by friends and business partners Lavinia ‘Ilolahia and Talia Soloa.
Elegant, flirty, whimsical and eye-catching; the uniqueness and recognisability of a Layplan piece means you won’t find anything like it in retail stores.
“We started Layplan by making clothes that we wanted to wear but couldn’t find anywhere,” the pair say.
“We hold everything to this: ‘Would we wear it? Does it make us feel great? Would we still wear it in the next five years? Can we easily incorporate it into our wardrobe? Would it work in green?’ That’s what we’d say defines ‘good’ design. It’s a perfect marriage of the two of us!”
While their pieces have graced magazine pages and clothed Kiwi celebs and fashion aficionados alike, the duo maintain that Layplan is for “women like us”. One look at the Layplan Instagram can tell you their customer base isn’t limited to controversial ‘sample sizing‘, instead choosing to democratise their clothing range by way of customisation, and featuring a range of body types in their clothes.
“We love to see our friends wearing our designs, as well as our mamas,” the designers say.
“Each design is thoughtfully created with versatility in mind. Being able to play with looks depending on style and setting means we’re able to cater to all ages.”
“People are always on the forefront of what we do. We design with people in mind, taking into consideration different bodies. We’re intentional with photographing, using people in our community that aren’t heavily photoshopped, heavily made up, and we try to portray women of different sizes.”
“By doing this, we hope that it sends the message of ‘come as you are, you’ll find something here.’”
The duo’s label has also become synonymous with fabric economy, often making their pieces from remnant fabric.
“The word ‘Layplan’ is a term used to describe the act of laying out pattern pieces onto fabric to maximise its usage and minimise its waste,” they say.
“We liked the idea of applying this to our practice and also our business – for us it’s all about intentionality.”
“Longevity is definitely a goal of ours too, without compromising style or design.”
The popularity of Soloa and ‘Ilolahia’s work has seen their brand expand quickly since their initial start-up, launching their temporary pop-up store in Wynyard Quarter earlier this year.
“It’s been really cool to have a studio and store combined for people to experience. It’s been a tricky transition but definitely worth it for us to be able to meet the faces behind the follows on Instagram,” they enthuse.
“I think it hasn’t affected the way we work, although it has shown our transparency with making. The customer is able to shop in the same space that they’re made and who they’re made by, which is special!”
Despite their success, the pair continue to grapple with a few obstacles. Soloa and ‘Ilolahia work long distance, “which means two studios, two cities and lots of face timing!”
And while the pair both have mastered the art of design, they’re still working on developing their business acumen and knowledge. Nevertheless, the demand for their work has grown exponentially since its inception. While their pop-up store closed its doors this week, the duo are hoping to slowly expand their business and their team this year.
“For Layplan, it’s important for whoever is to join the team to share our values too – which is so exciting!”
“In the future we would love to see Layplan as a multi-faceted business. For now, we’re working on fashion – doing it well and really pushing out our creativity in the best way we know; designing and making.”
Click the link below to keep up-to-date with Layplan: