AN INTERVIEW WITH ANJHE MULES, FOUNDER OF LUCAS HUGH | OCTOBER 2017
What inspired you to create Lucas Hugh?
As an active person and a designer, my transition from designing swimwear to activewear felt seamless as I saw opportunity to adapt many design and construction techniques established in swimwear into activewear design. I saw a clear gap in the market to provide women with quality product that would support them through high-impact fitness, while keeping them smart from curb-to-cab. I will never forget the moment when I was locked out of my room at a hotel in Russia after working out in the gym and having to walk through the opulent lobby in my sweaty gym kit. In addition to designing product that would perform I saw the need to develop fashionable designs that were stylish enough for a woman to feel comfortable wearing anywhere.
How did you get in to designing high-end active wear?
In my early design career, I had the opportunity to work at Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen where I was exposed to high-end fashion and the customer’s expectation from a luxury clothing brand. After spending many years traveling for work and maintaining a fitness routine, I met many stylish women who were lacking activewear that was designed for quality and afforded them options that aligned with their personal sense of style. Remember when gym kit consisted of an oversized cotton tee? Before launching in 2010, I spent three years in research and development. Quality and performance have always lead the design process for Lucas Hugh; I knew that women were willing to invest in products that would last and as such sought out to work with manufacturing partners that who could help us achieve industry leading design. I decided to position Lucas Hugh at the high-end of the market because I wanted to develop a full-service product that didn’t compromise on quality, performance and futuristic design.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your career to date?
I am fortunate enough to have spent many years traveling which has influenced how I design. I grew up in New Zealand, worked in New York for Marc Jacobs, travelled to Russia working on private Jets, and finally settled in London where I launched Lucas Hugh and met my husband and business partner Jason Marcus. Knowing that travel is important for our customer, we consciously select fabrics that our lightweight and packable to support our women in maintaining her active lifestyle. I am continually inspired by powerful women and work to design product that supports women in achieving their personal fitness goals.
You were one of the pioneers of the fashion and fitness fusion when you launched in 2010. What were the biggest obstacles you faced back then?
In 2010, the activewear, fitness and wellness markets were less established and as such our initial challenge was to educate our customer on the value of investing in activewear and how in tern, living an activelife style would help them to achieve their personal goals. For many women, the thought of wearing leggings on the tube was taboo. It has been interesting to watch the transition in London where dress codes have begun to relax, and Londoners are feeling more confident wearing their athletic kit to-and-from the gym because design continues to redefine how women feel when wearing activewear. In 2017, the activewear market has evolved exponentially in response to cultural shift towards a more active lifestyle, changes in diet and wellness practices. Other activewear brands have also seen the opportunity to align product design with ready-to-wear by offering seasonal prints and colourways to provide women with more options. The new challenge for activewear businesses as well as businesses in other sectors has shifted to brand awareness. With so many options in the market it is important to stay relevant to your customer while continuing to look for opportunity to innovate with design and production.
How does Lucas Hugh differentiate itself from other active wear brands on the market?
We believe that it comes down to the quality of our pieces and the unique fashion forward designs. All Lucas Hugh pieces are cut to support and streamline the physique, enhancing the wearer's performance and ease of movement with highly supported fabrics. We also use incorporate tailoring techniques into our designs to provide support, compression and contour. The fabrics we use are UV-protective, breathable and antibacterial and moisture wicking. The majority of LUCAS HUGH garments are produced using sealed-seams, which has been proven to be more resilient than traditional construction methods and gives the garment a clean and seamless look. When you put on your first pair of Lucas Hugh leggings and feel the material mold to your body, you can immediately feel the difference.
Where do you get inspiration from when you’re designing a new collection?
Futurism is central to our design process. I start with an idea, often derived from technology, art, or music, then as a team, we look at colours as well as different products that align with that theme – such as the futurisitic concept car which inspired our Spring/Summer 18 collection - and play around with aspects that resonate with the theme. From there, the direction of the design begins to build form as we hone in on a central theme which translates through the entire collection.
What does your typical day look like when you’re in the middle of designing a collection?
A collection can start at one point and then change a lot as we delve deeper into the idea. Which is exciting but can also mean there are a lot of elements to play with. I often go for a long run during the day to clear my head. Then we go back to our range plan and see what works. Although design requires a lot of long hours, I believe that often you need to step away from it for a bit to get some perspective. Which does mean the days are spent brainstorming and then designing and then taking a break and starting all over again.
How do you ensure you fit training in to your busy work and home schedule?
Fitness is an essential to my personal balance and an integral part of my day. Whether it means an early morning workout, or during the day at the office, fitness is integral to my lifestyle. Our team at Lucas Hugh really looks forward to our weekly workouts, which includes working out at OPUS Gym for a tailored workout routine once a week.
What do you love the most about your job?
As a business owner, I am involved in all aspects of the business which brings a diverse range of topics across my desk. I enjoy collaborating every day with my team, particularly with design. In particular, I have enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with artists on futuristic prints. For our current Autumn/Winter 17 collection we collaborate with Sevenart Ltd. to produce artful prints inspired by the work of the iconic artist Erté, merging art and with performance.
What’s next for Lucas Hugh?
2018 Will be an exciting year for Lucas Hugh, we are launching our Spring/Summer 2018 collection in January, and are hoping to open our first brick-and-mortar retail space in London before the end year. for us as we’ve got some exciting expansion plans in the work. We’ve also worked really hard on our marketing strategy for 2018, which focuses on empowering personal performance.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
What are you reading at the moment?
Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Podcasts. As an active person, a business owner and a mother, I find Podcasts integrate seamlessly into my routine. In particular, I have been listening to several Podcasts that focus on fashion and retail - such as ‘The Glossy Podcast’ or ‘How I Built This’ – because we are looking to grow our business and working toward opening our first retail store in London. In addition to podcasts, I read articles throughout the day and stay informed by subscribing to some of my favourite fashion and news publications such as Business of Fashion, Vogue, and The Telegraph and The Guardian.
Your perfect weekend consists of...
Spending time with my husband and my young daughter in West London. We love to go for walks in Hyde Park, or heading to a local fitness studio for a morning workout. We truly enjoy our neighbourhood, walking through the artisan shops, local boutiques and cafes. My husband Jason is a fantastic cook, and we really enjoy the opportunity to have a home cooked meal. I like to wind down on Sundays spending time at home, Skyping with family and friends.
What couldn’t you live without?
Other than my family, technology is important to me. I rely on my iPhone and Apple Watch to stay connected.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
‘If you are going to achieve excellence in anything, you need competition and a strong focus on improving your own personal best.’
I value competition and the opportunity to learn. It is important to me to surround myself with a team and partners that help myself and the business grow. Our team at Lucas Hugh continues to expand and we are really excited to explore new facets of the brand in 2018.
What do you love the most about Notting Hill?
Notting Hill is home, I have lived here for many years and have no plans to leave. I have enjoyed the community here, it is where my family lives, where we have built our business, where we continue to meet creative people. We feel Notting Hill has character that continues to excite us as we explore new stalls and boutiques. We also enjoy the greenery in this neighbourhood – Hype Park is one of our favourite places in London.
To find out more about Lucas Hugh, head to their website www.lucashugh.com and take advantage of 10% off your next order with discount code LHCLUB10.