Co-founder and designer of high performance sportswear brand LPRD, Anneloes Ouwehand, tells us about her Amsterdam-based label and why she sees nothing but leopard printed world domination in her future.
On mixing her love of cycling with a career in design…
The idea for LPRD was incubated three years ago in Amsterdam when I realised that sport (especially cycling) outfits for women were often in pink with flowers or full of logos. Coming from a fashion background I noticed that there’s room for improvement in the design and fit of sportswear. There was a gap in the market for a brand that’s specifically focussed on women who, besides wanting to perform, also want to have fun while doing it. I decided this could be done best whilst being dressed in my favourite print: leopard!
Sport and exercising is about feeling good and being empowered, therefore creating outfits that make women feel strong and feminine was a natural choice. I started LPRD with Adrian Cooke, who’s my cycling partner and life partner. He’s cycled his whole life in all parts of the world and has excellent technical skills.
On why it’s not all glitz and glamour running a sports fashion label…
Being a fashion and sportswear designer often gives people the glamorous idea of runway shows, extravagant photoshoots, lots of sketching and creating fun garments all day. Although these are the fun bits of running your own fashion brand, they’re just a small fragment of my typical work day.
Generally I spend my time responding to emails, staying in contact with my suppliers, and working on marketing and PR. Running a small and bespoke sportswear brand means that I need to be on top of every part the business, from finances to fabrics, from managing Instagram to keeping track of inventory and creating both an online and offline presence for our label.
On top of this, we create most items only when an order is placed in our webshop, so when we have lots of sales, I spend a lot of my time sewing the garments. We also try to go to at least two or three trade shows a year, which can be sports or fashion based, such as Premier Vision in Paris or Eurobike in Germany.
Whenever possible we try to combine research and development with our travel plans. To make sure that the fabrics and chamois that we use in our products are truly premium quality, we tested them on a big cycling trip in 2018. We covered over 5,000km through South America in matching leopard print leggings. Back in January, we started 2019 working on the new season in South Africa.
On being a lifelong fan of leopard…
I’ve been a leopard print fan from an early age, and every time I see the spotted pattern it brings a smile to my face. From my pre-teens onwards I’ve almost always worn something leopard print and it was my favourite pattern for my bedroom – I’ve even hand-painted one of my bicycles in leopard.
Liking the print so much, and even kind of identifying myself with it, made me slightly hesitant to start a business based on leopard print. What if suddenly surrounding myself with leopard print made me like it less, and I’d suddenly become fed-up with the pattern I liked the most?
More than three years down the line and I can say that I still really like leopard print, it never gets boring! And one of the strong points of leopard is, either you love it or you hate it, but once you love it, you’ll love it for life.
On creating custom outfits from LPRD’s Amsterdam studio…
Our custom garments are handmade in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and are designed to add fun and sophistication to cycling, running or gym clothing – without compromising on functionality. We primarily design cycling outfits for women: from an outspoken skinsuit for road cycling, leopard print shorts for cycling and spinning to versatile black activewear leggings. The emphasis is on good looking clothing to allow one to feel comfortable before, during, and after sport.
We only use the best materials sourced from Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. We focus on sustainability when choosing our materials, which means that the majority of the patterns are printed on a fabric made from recycled polyamide. As a response to the overproduction in the fashion industry we have a ‘minimal stock policy’, so only when an order is placed in our webshop do we make the garment.
On her proudest business moments…
Running your own sportswear label is a constant process of trying out new strategies and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Seeing our web traffic grow steadily is something that makes me very proud! Knowing that we started from nothing and seeing that the hard work has paid off is very rewarding.
But actually it’s receiving every new order that makes me happy, and getting positive feedback from clients that are happily working out in their leopard print outfits.
Currently we’re collaborating with two Dutch fashion labels, creating a small series of sportswear items based on leopard print. This should be available from early April and I’m really excited about the products!