Behind the Scenes with Worn Founder Lia-Belle King

In celebration of the new Worn Odessa collection launching at Father Rabbit Select, we had a chat with founder Lia-Bee King about the inspiration behind the garments, what inspired the beginning of Worn, and how she keeps her creativity rolling in times like these.

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE ODESSA COLLECTION? WHAT INSPIRED THE DESIGNS AND WHO DO YOU SEE WEARING THE PIECES?

Our Pre Fall collection 'Odessa' is the first collection we designed and made in Australia. Previously we would work directly within artisans in Indonesia to produce our clothing collection, but due to covid, fabric shortages in Indonesia and the inability to travel posed real difficulties and so we had to be pragmatic and so redirected a majority of our production to Australia, which is always something we had wanted to do. Working more closely with our pattern maker allowed us to really improve the quality and technicality of our garment construction, particularly with our tailoring so you'll notice this collection is quite a leap from our previous lifestyle direction. We were flexing our technical strength and working more closely with such luxurious fabrications not previously used within our ranges.

 

Odessa as I have written in our collection bio, is about coming home. Working with an all female team, most of whom are mothers like myself, and working with local makers made the entire experience creating Odessa so intimate. The pieces reflect this intimacy with the hand feel of the fabrications, the design direction is always pared back in contrast to our previous exaggerated silhouettes whilst still honouring the woman who wears WORN. Odessa for me, is a very empowering collection that speaks to women about the closeness of working together with other women, in a creative, honest and fulfilling way. It honours the truth of our brands potential and sets a new standard for what can considered sustainable, wearable luxury.

  

WAS THERE A LIGHTBULB MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO CREATE WORN STORE?

Worn was never a lightbulb moment business. It came about most cosmically when Lotte and I were living in Bali to have two years of life respite. Initially intended to be a place where I was going to curate beautiful antique cultural finds from our travels, hence the name 'worn', I posted one chair for sale on Instagram that we had made for our villa and it quickly turned into 16 orders and slowly the business evolved to what it is today. Worn has always been a slow evolution of growth. We live first, and we work second. I think this is a very privileged way to live and we don't take that for granted. There is so much to learn when growing a business and a child at the same time, and sometimes even though I get frustrated at slow progress, in hindsight I see the richness and stability that comes from slow and steady.

DO YOU HAVE ANY BUCKET LIST GOALS AND DREAMS FOR WORN STORE THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?

Yes, always! This November we will be opening our new boutique in Mullumbimby. It has been three years since we have had a bricks & mortar store and we have dreamed of creating a new physical space where our customers, friends & family can experience the brand. Our new space is huge, and will tread the line between retail and industrial art gallery. Positioned within a huge converted warehouse the space is allowing us much freedom to really give our customers an immersive WORN experience.

WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM AND HOW DO YOU AVOID CREATIVE BURNOUT?

Inspiration for me is about collaboration, working with the women of Worn and our tight-knit team is utterly inspiring. I feel so held, heard & seen, our team knows me well enough to support my 'cowboy' ideas when I go rogue and bring something completely left of field to the table. Design inspiration comes from the small subtle details, for me it always starts with fabric - the quality & sustainability aspects of the selection process is vigorous. I am very particular but I believe that is what makes our clothing what it is. It's the hidden gold button at first glance you may miss, but upon trying them on discover. Then it's about shape, movement & feel. Quality & comfort are always at the forefront.

 

As for creative burnout, this is a very real aspect and one I tread a fine line with...and don't always get it right. I push myself and have very high expectations, but I've learnt the hard way that I can't push myself like I used to in my 20's or before having a child. I have to create space and implement rituals that help set boundaries that best allow me to be creative and stay creative. It's certainly a work in progress but small things like not socialising on Sundays, trying to start my day with a warm lemon water in bed in silence, reading instead of being on my phone and sometimes, just taking a day off on a day when when my daughter is at daycare really helps to avoid burnout.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU KEEP THE BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR HOME AND WORK LIFE? (ESPECIALLY IN THIS MODERN TIME OF LOCKDOWNS)

I think the reality of running a business with your partner, and having a child, and no childcare, and working from home essentially means there is no balance. And that is absolutely okay. I think it's completely realistic to say that balance just isn't possible and we, like everyone else just does our best each day. Sometimes our best means not working at all and dedicating an entire day of quality connection time with Ophelia, other days it's needing to ask a friend to look after her so we can get in a few hours of work. During lockdown it has been especially difficult but we set up a home office in the spare room away from and main living areas, and we take turns during the day to work whilst the other is with Ophelia, and then we swap. It works most of the time.

QUICKFIRE FAVOURITES

Book: The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy

Food: Toasted organic sourdough with organic butter and a thin slice of ham off the bone (with a pinch of salt)

Beauty product: The 1 Mask by Rationale. Also looking forward to trying the new lipstick by La Bouche Rouge Paris x Unconditional - looks to be the perfect nude

City: New York

Podcast: Cool Mums

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