The surprising beauty of leftovers

Lucille LÉORAT - Founder of Leftovers dits L/overs

By: Aurélie ROUTHIER

The very name of Leftovers dits L/overs seduces us as much as it questions us: how could leftovers be so desirable ? What if the leftovers were the ones we should cherish and who would give it back to us! This is the commitment of Lucille Léorat, the former artistic director of a major cashmere brand, who embarked on the adventure of circular fashion three years ago. 

Passionate about beautiful knitwear, Lucille confirms with her sublime wardrobe that sustainable is not only what is made with meaning, but also what lasts over time - because it is ultra qualitative and timeless. In a word, sustainable beauty.

How did L/overs come about? 

I had been thinking for a long time about pursuing a more virtuous approach in my work. In my previous job, I had already taken small steps towards "doing things better", for example by labelling the entire collection Oeko-Tex. But we were only at the beginning and as we know, there are a lot of constraints and red tape in an established brand which prevents us from going fast and having a real impact. I had ideas and above all a furious desire to undertake. And it so happened that on the knitwear market there were a lot of players but very few things that were (really) virtuous and (really) high quality. Everything was aligned, so I jumped in! L/overs was born in late 2018.

As with Saudade, you start with the constraint of the raw material, tell us about your creation process?

The process is simple, at least to state! It is really to make clothes with what we find in factories. The creative process is the opposite of that of the industry: at L/overs, it is the availability of the material that dictates the inspiration, the rhythm and the production quantities. The pieces are offered as they become available, in limited quantities.

I buy the cashmere leftovers, I clear the factories. I don't make any raw materials. We allow the factories to get rid of their stock and we help them to get labelled, we are a bit of a shock CSR designer.

The knitting is done from the residual yarns of the biggest houses, which I select meticulously. I like this treasure hunt aspect: what am I going to do with these dozens of metres of bright yellow or light pink threads? Starting with the constraints makes you clever and undeniably more creative!

So, upcycling and high quality go hand in hand?

The design must be timeless, the material noble, and the manufacturing demanding. If we bring these three dimensions together, then we can start talking about sustainability!

In terms of manufacturing, for example, if I take knitwear, I want it to be very tight, I want there to be more material so that it is really resistant over time and the garment does not deform, even after many washes. I think about the life of my product as well as the comfort of my customers. I want people to say "I'm warm, I'm comfortable, I'm dressed".

So I would say that without quality there is no sustainability and if upcycling is not integrated into a quality approach then we are only half way there. It must be not only virtuous for the planet but also for the buyer.  Buying quality and therefore sustainable means consuming less.

3 adjectives to describe the L/overs wardrobe?

Unisex - Timeless - Quality

I'll add one more: fun!

Who is the lover of L/overs? 

A demanding man or woman. Trendsetter because he/she is not looking for a name or a brand but first of all for a product, an approach. Sensitive to the fact that the brand is confidential and carried by an entrepreneurial stylist... who puts her heart into it!

The signature piece of your wardrobe?

The reversible 4 thread poncho and the reversible 2 thread oversized hoodie.

What other materials have you explored in your upcycling process? 

Silk (scarves assembled in patchwork), leather (trousers and skirts) and wool (mixed coat). 

Second hand and vintage are everywhere at the moment. Do you think this is a good thing?

Yes of course, but be careful! Vintage stops at the 80's (50's to 80's). After that, vintage is useless. Clothes are less well made, we just tried to do it quickly and cheaply. I think it's the same for the vintage Saudade rugs, they date from before the decline of good practices!

We are all on a quest to do better, to consume better.  Where else do you try to be more responsible?

Food in the first place. I have always cooked, every day and a lot, having 3 sons and a husband to feed! And then all the products we consume, I am a housewife above all! Then again, we do what we can with what we know and what the market offers us, but year after year, awareness is opening up and becoming sharper. We are moving towards better consumption.

Do you have a brand or a person you would like us to know about?

Claire Auzouy, the founder of Les Huilettes, the vegan and organic cosmetic oils, and Pascale, her associate, the chemist who creates the formulas. They are women of the heart whom I admire, and the products are really top-notch.

Are you more of a cushion or rug person?

I have cushions everywhere in my house, even in the car!

The final Saudadian question: what object in your home best embodies the idea of Saudade? 

Guess what! It's something folded up in my wardrobe... my biggest and warmest cashmere jumper!  When your heart and soul are cold, you put on a cashmere jumper and instantly you fall into a caress of Saudade, as melancholic as it is comforting!

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