27 Questions: Grace Lant, designer and co-founder of Love From Blue

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Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same amount of time it takes to sit through a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Grace Lant, designer and co-founder of Love From Blue.

The World Is On Fire But We’re Still Buying Shoes is a book written by Alec Leach, ex-Highsnobiety editor and founder of sustainable fashion platform @future__dust. It’s a to-the-point, pocket-sized manifesto detailing all the ails of the fashion industry; of consumerism; of greenwashing; of how yes, we know shopping is bad, but damn it, why can’t we stop?

Grace Lant — designer and co-founder of Hong Kong-based knitwear brand Love From Blue — operates on a similar wavelength.

Sustainability isn’t a new topic of interest. The need for its presence isn’t even something worth debating, for it is omniscient; absolute. For Lant, sustainability isn’t a casual thought that jolts into place whenever she finishes a water bottle that could be recycled; whenever she sees yet another Instagram ad for metallic straws. Sustainability, rather, is her bread and butter. It’s something that has defined the choices she’d made in her life — the good, the bad and the ugly.

“I’ve always wanted to make and create,” says Lant. “Fashion was a specialty I chose within the wider world of art and design because the possibilities of the industry and the diverse career opportunities excited me.”

Before Love From Blue, Lant graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Knitwear from Central Saint Martins and a Master’s in Creative Knitwear Design from Accademia Costume e Moda in Italy, then came back to Hong Kong, her home city, to manage sustainability-focussed designs at UPW, a world-renowned yarn mill.

“My time at Central Saint Martins was amazing, especially my final year,” said Lant. “Everything clicked for me creatively, I worked really hard and loved every minute. It was when I was faced with entering the “real world” of the fashion industry that my conviction started to falter; I just couldn’t be passionate about the work when so many red flags around sustainability were becoming apparent.”

“Sometimes the overall negative perspective of the [fashion] industry makes it hard to be proud of what you do,” Lant continues. “I’ve definitely struggled to be fully invested at times because I question if I’m utilising my skills and time in the best possible way.”

Love From Blue is a project born out of this frustration; a project that tries to do good in an industry overcome with bad press, bad practices and waste. So much waste. Co-founded by Lant and her business partner Alice Crotty, the Hong Kong-based knit label flips the script on what it means to, essentially, design a piece of garment. By using only deadstock materials — “Deadstock is essentially waste material,” explains Lant. “We focus on deadstock at the material stage meaning we use yarn that for various reasons has been made but won’t be utilised in garment production by bigger brands.” — Love From Blue designs are “a study in transfiguration”; a love letter to the leftover material rescued and turned into something that lasts. Something with value. Something that has made industry veterans already taken notice, with the brand winning the 2020 edition of the Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition.

“Big brands will overestimate the yarn they need to fulfil an order by 3-5%. This is in case of quality control issues, or damage during production,” says Lant. “The small percentage of yarn leftover is essentially an inconvenience to them and the easiest thing to do is get rid of it. We try to rescue it and make it into special, limited edition, high quality pieces.”

The scarcity of deadstock and end-of-roll material means small production runs are inevitable for every Love From Blue design. But that’s precisely what makes Lant’s pieces so very special.

“At the end of the day, the most sustainable clothes are the ones you already own,” says Lant. “No production of clothes is completely sustainable, no matter how small the production or how sustainable the material.”

The onus, then, is left to the consumer. To buy better. To buy second-hand, like Lant, who loves shopping on Vestiaire. To buy intentionally-created, responsibly-sourced pieces, like, you know, this Love From Blue sweater.

Getting Down To The Knitty-Gritty With Grace Lant:

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Name: Grace Lant
Age: 28
Neighbourhood: Happy Valley
Occupation: Co-founder and designer of Love From Blue

1. Who is your role model?

I have a twin sister and we definitely learn from each other’s triumphs and mistakes. (Shout out to my little sister who I love just as much and am very proud of!)

2. What was your first job?

My first ever job was in Hong Kong when I was 15 or 16. I was a children’s party host and it paid HK$500 an hour! (I only did one party a week.)

3. What is your drink of choice?

Gin and tonic! Plain and simple.

4. When was the last time you drove a car?

Too long ago, it must be over two years now. I’m worried I don’t remember how to drive.

5. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?

We are very lucky to have a lovely rooftop that is like a little oasis.

6. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Peanut butter toast, I will never get sick of it.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?

Not studying psychology at school. 

8. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?

How slowly people walk. 

9. What is the top destination on your bucket list?

I want to explore the Middle East more, I would love to go to Beirut.

10. What is your greatest fear?

Getting locked in a toilet.

11. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

I love those squiggly sour worm sweets. I get cravings for them and could eat a whole bag in one go.

12. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?

Wireless Music Festival 2018, the last music festival I went to before moving to Hong Kong.

13. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I really want to move to Amsterdam or Lisbon to see what it’s like living there. Somewhere closer to family but isn’t the UK, I don’t think I want to move back there yet.

14. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

I have different curations for different occasions and moods. Honestly I think everyone is interesting to talk to if you ask the right questions. 

15. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?

All of Dido’s first album and M People’s “Search for the Hero”, the two CDs that played in the car when we were growing up, forever engrained.

16. Where do you go when you want to be alone?

I go for a run either around Happy Valley Racecourse, or along Bowen Road.

17. What’s your favourite tradition?

We always used to do a swim on Christmas Day. It was freezing and I hated it, but looking back, they’re some of the best memories. 

18. If you were a TV show character, who would you be and why?

Have you watched Peaky Blinders? I’d like to think I have an inner Polly.

19. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?

My dad. He taught me PE GCSE outside of school as an extra subject, and I got an A*. More importantly, he always made sure we knew that anything a boy can do a girl can do better.

20. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it.

Not love at first sight, but looking back, the first time I saw my boyfriend there were definitely universal powers at work. 

21. Do you have any favourite tattoos or special birthmarks? What is it?

I have a little birthmark on my shin and I love it. I remember it started to fade a bit as I was growing up and I was sad thinking it was going to disappear all together.

22. How many countries have you been to?

Around 30 I think. My mum and dad are both teachers and love traveling so we were lucky growing up we got to go to some really amazing places during the holidays.

23. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?

Never be alone for a single moment. It would be hard at some points, but I’m a true believer that life is about the people in it.

24. What would you do if you won the lottery?

It would be so nice to create and make without the stress of money so I would live somewhere remote and beautiful where I could do that for a bit, then come back to city life and be a female boss for a good cause.

25. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?

There have been some triumphant moments in my life but I definitely haven’t thought ‘I’ve made it’. I don’t think I ever will. 

26. What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?

I think in Hong Kong, university straight from high school is the normalised expectation. I remember my dad telling me I didn’t have to go, or could wait but it didn’t really feel like an option. Looking back, I think everyone should have some real life experience before they invest in a university degree.

27. If you could do it all over again, what is one thing you would do differently?

Maybe stress less.

Love From Blue is currently running a sample sale with all proceeds going to Choose Love’s donation campaign for Ukraine. Shop here.

The post 27 Questions: Grace Lant, designer and co-founder of Love From Blue appeared first on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.

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