Swimwear and sustainability? Not two words you often read in the same sentence. However, Léa Daaboul, the founder of brand Léa The Label, headquartered in Dubai, is set to change that. Looking to eco-friendly Italian fabrics to create her minimal yet chic designs, she’s helping push the conscious movement. Here, she opens up about her journey and why eco-friendly fashion is the way forward.
Tell us about your story.
I am a Lebanese-born designer, raised between Lebanon and Boston. I’ve lived in Rome, Paris, New York, and currently, reside in Dubai. I acquired my fashion design degree from ESMOD in Paris, France. After a rigorous amount of continued education in business marketing, and years of professional experience in design, and luxury buying in Paris and New York, I decided to launch Léa the Label.
Growing up in Lebanon, being at the beach was a daily summer activity. Along with always having visibility to the most magical sunset over the sea, whether you are in the mountains, downtown, or at the beach. My earliest childhood memory was the ocean, which was during the more difficult times when my family would escape to spend most of our summers in Cyprus to avoid the war in Lebanon. I have always been drawn to the sea; even listening to my grandmother’s stories of her past exotic beach days, I used to imagine what the swimwear and fashion was like back then, especially during Lebanon’s golden days. Flash-forward years later, I specialized in lingerie and swimwear, as I found it so intriguing and challenging to create something so minimal.
What is the ethos behind your brand?
Léa The Label is a contemporary, sustainable swimwear brand, currently manufactured in Bali, Indonesia. We value meticulous craftsmanship and provide a diverse range of silhouettes while maintaining a balance of comfort, quality, and style. The pieces are resistant to chlorine and suntan oils, are UV protective, and are ultra smooth, ensuring the best fit and long-lasting wear. I also like to design with a focus on versatile and edgy collections that can be worn from day to night. Mixing-and-matching is also encouraged, as all styles flow together, creating a unique wear that fits into each individual’s personality. The collection is a balance of minimalism and statement while remaining timeless.
What sets Léa The Label apart from other swimwear brands?
Our concept is more focused on supporting the slow fashion movement with minimal and timeless collections, and avoiding fast-fashion and mass production to allow more time for creativity and construction. We want to focus more on ethical fashion using the highest luxury eco-friendly fabrics for an affordable price, and offer staple pieces to ensure our consumers that years down the line, their swimwear is still durable and in style.
Can you tell us about the eco-friendly fabric you use?
All of the premium swimwear is created with the highest luxury, eco-friendly Italian fabrics. With the empowerment of the ECONYL® Reclaiming Program, The Healthy Seas and the Net-Works™ projects, all of the swim fabrics are constructed from post, and pre-consumer waste such as fishing nets, fluff, industrial plastic and yarn discards that are collected by coastal communities across the world. The waste is then made into the ECONYL® yarns that are shipped to Italy to create the highest quality sustainable techno fabrics that can be regenerated endless times, preserving the same quality and offering a strong and long lasting swimsuit.
Why is environmentally friendly fashion so important?
Our ocean is the foundation of the Earth’s life support system. About 70% of Earth’s surface is water and 97% of Earth’s water is within our oceans. According to the ocean conservancy, about 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our ocean, killing millions of marine animals every year. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we pride ourselves on sustainability and protecting the planet. Even the slightest changes can go a long way. We hope that by creating our swimwear from 100% regenerated nylon, we can contribute to saving our oceans and help bring awareness and change.
What is your design process?
First and foremost is allowing some time for a clear mind to be creative and defining the direction of the brand. The next step is collecting photographs, color palettes, and travel inspiration to brainstorm ideas. One of my favorite ways to break through is to open up a sketchbook and begin drawing all the ideas that come to mind. I also love to drape fabric on my mannequin to create different types of silhouettes, to have a better visual. Once I have gathered solid ideas, I hand or machine sew the pieces together to create samples, which I eventually work one-on-one thoroughly with our manufacturing team in Bali to perfect the fit, all stitching details, and hardware. Meanwhile, our eco-friendly fabrics take about one to two months to be prepared from our supplier in Italy because of the sustainable development. Once everything is ready and confirmed we begin production followed by multiple quality control stages. We are keen on working in detail and focus more on quality over quantity which is why we are not a fast-moving brand and it is important for us to be 100% satisfied with our products.
What inspires you?
The swimwear brand is inspired by my travels and experiences around the world with an appreciation for culture, art, style, and yoga. As I practice yoga daily and have been an instructor of a couple of years now, something I am very passionate about, all of which have played a part in the birth of the brand. We currently manufacture responsibly in Bali, one of my preferred serene islands to unwind and recharge, a place where the yoga and beach culture is widely common. Travel definitely plays a dominant role in my inspiration from the design process to shooting our campaigns. The brand’s first campaign, “PRIMEIRA”, took place in Algarve, Portugal. Inspired by the serene European summer on the Southern Coast of Portugal. PRIMEIRA translates to “First” in Portuguese hence the brand’s first collection. The swims are featured against old and rich walls, minimalistic Portuguese interiors and the beautiful cliffs by the Atlantic Sea, where the natural elements are merged with the modern.