Growing up, my mom always emphasized the importance of sisterhood: Women advocating for and supporting each other to pursue their dreams. Our conversations immediately resurfaced the first time I visited La Bande: La Ligne’s portrait series where they profile inspiring women — from artists and activists to pilots and producers — who are at the top of their fields. I was struck by how courageous, fearless and passionate the women look in their photos. They’re the kind of women who make you think: ‘Wow, I want to be like her when I grow up.’ That’s exactly why La Ligne was created: To spotlight, support and design essential pieces to empower women as they break new ground. Founded by former Vogue editors Meredith Melling and Valerie Macaulay, and Molly Howard, who led business development at Rag & Bone, the two-year-old startup represents a new generation of fashion brands that are replacing competitive industry norms with community and inclusivity.
Community and collaboration, especially with women-owned brands, are two of La Ligne’s core values, a refreshing approach in the fashion industry, which is often cut throat. Since launching in 2016, La Ligne has collaborated with multiple women-owned brands, such as Cuyana, Cynthia Rowley, Free The Nipple and Lingua Franca. They also worked directly with 11 Honoré, a size-inclusive fashion retailer, to ensure their collection serves all women. “La Ligne is built on community, inclusivity, and pushing women forward,” Melling said. “Many of the brands we collaborate with could be perceived as competitors, but we don’t see it that way. We are all in this together.
Howard highlights a noticeable shift in the fashion world as young brands like La Ligne, Lunya and Lively set new standards. “Our world doesn’t have space for the archaic fashion mentality of being competitive, cut-throat and not inclusive,” she said. “Giving back is what pushes you forward. It’s the way of the new world. Nothing makes us happier than being able to support other women-owned businesses.” The sentiment is shared by other startups in the industry with recent collaborations like Parachute Home and Jenni Kayne’s bedding collection, Clare V. and The Inside’s custom furniture, and Summersalt and Supergoop’s swimsuit collaboration.
Launching and leading a startup is all consuming, especially in the early days, but it’s vital to spend time outside of your business and immediate network. One of the founders’ mantras is: ‘Always take the meeting.’ They habitually carve out time every week to meet with creatives, designers, entrepreneurs and more to brainstorm ways to collaborate and support each other.
They believe in approaching every relationship with pure intent and without expecting anything in return. Magic doesn’t always happen in the first meeting. It may be in the second, third or even years later.
That’s how La Ligne was founded. The founders first met to discuss potential consulting projects. Six months later, Melling and Macaulay asked Howard to join them. They launched La Ligne’s first collection in April 2016.
The team’s goal is to one day expand outside of women’s clothing. Each collection exposes them to new demographics, like the mother-child market with Rockets of Awesome and jewelry with Jennifer Fisher Jewelry.
La Ligne’s ethos are brought to life twice a week with their La Bande portraits. They’ve profiled over 120 women so far, such as LOLA Founders Alexandra Friedman and Jordana Kier, who are bringing transparency to feminine care products; Sarah Sophie Flicker, who organized the Women’s March on Washington; and Stacey Bendet, founder and creative director at Alice & Olivia. Many are other fashion designers, but the team urges the women to style their shoots around pieces from their own collections. “Each shoot is designed to put power in the subject themselves. Whether that’s Candy Pratts Price wearing a vintage Tom Ford python coat or Indre Rockefeller carrying her Paravel luggage,” Melling said. “La Bande is about acknowledging and celebrating the success of all women.”
In addition to stunning photos, La Bande features interviews that provide a glimpse into each woman’s dreams, personality and quirks. When they featured Liz Verardo, a former Army commander who had been deployed to Afghanistan twice, alongside her commitment to protecting our country, she shared that she listens to Nicki Minaj songs on repeat until she memorizes the lyrics.
Women on La Bande are real, relatable, and inspiring, which is exactly how La Ligne hopes to revitalize fashion. “Fashion is supposed to be fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously here. We talk about laugh lines, balancing work and life, and achieving our dreams,” Macaulay said. “We want to empower women to feel confident in who they are, where they are, and where they want to go. We can all relate to that. Our team at La Ligne does every day. We’ve never built a fashion brand before so this is all a huge risk. We come to work with a full heart, inspired by them, and try our best.”
A special part of La Bande is each woman’s ‘line to live by.’ Here are a few that are helpful to reflect on as we embark on the new year.
- “If you always do what you always did, you will get what you always got,” from La Ligne team member Slava Borovsky’s interview.
- “Sometimes your only mode of transportation is a leap of faith,” shared by Aurora James.
- “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously,” from Sophia Bush’s profile.
The founders’ collective line to live by? “Always say ‘Yes!’ When you say no you’re limiting yourself.”
What will you say yes to in 2018?