Touted by A-listers like Hilary Rhoda and stocked at fashion meccas like Barneys New York, A Fine Line is a growing line of contemporary fashions designed to be worn any time of day — literally. Comfortable enough to wear to bed, the brand is best known for its slogan tops and tees.
We spoke with founder/designer Alisia Leibel about her growing label.
theFashionSpot: Can you tell us about the name A Fine Line?
Alisia Leibel: The name came about when I was describing to a close friend my concept, but didn't yet have a name. I was describing how it was skirting the edge of women's contemporary, but not quite a loungewear line. I kept saying ‘a fine line’ and she said to me, you are saying the name, A FINE LINE! You're focused on comfort as much as design.
tFS: How does that come into play in the manufacturing process? Can you tell us about some of your fabrics and how you go about picking them?
AL: It is tricky because some styles and fabrics are so luxurious, but don’t quite fit who the A Fine Line woman is. Comfort always comes first, so I always look while sourcing fabrics for the softest hand, unique blends that you can, if you want, feel comfortable sleeping in.
tFS: Speaking of sleeping in, we've been seeing a lot of pajamas on the runway. What do you make of this trend?
AL: I am a fan! I really believe fashion can be interpreted in so many ways, as long as its styled right. I actually just bought a pair of ALC leopard silky PJ pants and I'm really excited to get in them!
tFS: Backtracking a bit, what made you start your own brand? Can you tell us a little bit about the process?
AL: I started my company based upon what I found to be a missing link in my wardrobe: tees that are versatile enough for me to wear during the day and be able to dress up at night. I always had a true love for vintage tees and sweats. I wanted to find a way to modernize and merge the two into a brand that was current, quirky and wearable. I started the company out of a friend of mine's office in downtown LA. The technicalities of starting the business is never fun, but there is such a great feeling when designing and seeing things brought to life it cancels out all the mundane tasks of setting up the actual business.
tFS: What was your background before starting A Fine Line?
AL: I graduated from Loyola Marymount with a degree in communications and fine arts. I then designed for a silk dress company and prior to that interned for an interior designer, Kishani Perera here in LA. I love all elements of design and they are all so intertwined. It’s quite common to find me rearranging the office workspace mid-day or stopping at antique stores before work. I draw a lot of inspiration from home décor.
tFS: What's a typical work day like for you?
AL: A typical workday starts usually with me working out in the morning, either spinning at SoulCycle with Ben Bruker or training at Rise Movement in West Hollywood. I love to start the day off with a kick of energy. After, I drive to the downtown LA office with my brother and partner, George Geanopulos. There we have meetings, go over concepts, new patterns, graphics and designs with the team, go over sales with our showroom, have fittings with our sample maker, and oversee what is currently being produced and shipped. It's a lot of work, but we manage to have a lot of laughs during the day.
tFS: Can you talk to us a little bit more about the challenges? Especially when it comes to balancing business and creative?
AL: I think the biggest challenge is being able to switch between the two modes mentally at any given time. Some days I really don’t want to talk about numbers and I would rather be drawing or sourcing fabrics, but a certain business issue has to be addressed, so I have to switch gears immediately and be present.
tFS: Where do the ideas came from for some of your catchy slogan tees?
AL: A lot of them come from my team and I sitting around a table conceptualizing around our season’s theme. We basically just hang out and talk about our lives, growing up, nostalgia, and say the most off the wall stuff and sometimes one sticks! A mimosa is often involved.
tFS: How have you gone about getting some of those pieces worn by celebrities?
AL: A lot of our press came very organically through a celebrity picking it up in a store and seen wearing it, and some are friends of mine. I really didn’t have a professional PR team until about a month ago!
tFS: On that note, you just started your brand in 2011 and are already in some of the best stores in the world. How did you go about getting the attention of retailers like Barneys?
AL: We show in a showroom so they have been really wonderful getting us into some great retailers. During my second season, my business partner at the time and I were asked to do a collaboration with Barneys x Lady Gaga for her Holiday 2012 shop, since Gaga loved the line. We made really cute sleep sets and hoodies for the event. After the launch, we met with the buyers of Barneys. It was serendipitous.
tFS: Anything you're working on now that you can share with us?
AL: Right now we are developing Fall 2014, with a ‘Magical Forrest’ theme… I can’t say too much but it's wild! We just wrapped our Summer 2014 collection that is sort of an homage to the 90s with bright colors, watermelons, flamingos and a tropical print that is so out of control! Summer has some of my most favorite tanks we have ever done. I can’t wait to get my hands on them!