Studio Visit

Women Should Be Able To Dress Like The Boys

And new brand Lorod is providing both the utilitarian workwear and the denim of our dreams to do just that.

By: Tara Gonzalez
Photography: Alec Kugler

“She looks so good in it.”

“I know!”

Lauren Rodriguez and Michael Freels are hovered over a small macbook. They are the designers of new brand, Lorod, whose zip up jeans you may have seen on Bella Hadid (worn with a mesh bodysuit–of course). But this time they aren’t looking at a photo of Bella but at the youngest sister of the band Haim, who is wearing the same pair of jeans with a matching denim jacket in an email they’ve been sent. It’s also on her Instagram, a photo of her in zipped denim with a phone in her hand. The caption reads “sending naughty texts.”

 

Lauren and Michael laugh and then tell me how they got into designing. Michael fell in love with Raf Simons and Nicholas Ghesquiere’s work, “probably on Tumblr.” Lauren didn’t always know that she’d be where she is now. She originally wanted to go to fashion school but was scared out of pursuing fashion; then she went to art school and was scared out of pursuing art. Michael and Lauren met at a party huddled over a drink instead of a macbook where Lauren would ask “Will you help me with my sewing machine?”

And now they sit across from one another in a studio four floors up from the streets of the East Village. A sewing machine sits in the corner as they talk about the tangible instead of the imagined. It isn’t no longer “how can I make this?” but “who can I get to wear this?”

 

Like all designers, Lauren and Michael both describe the feeling of seeing someone–anyone (famous or not)–in their clothes as indescribable. Michael mentions recently running into someone out in New York wearing Lorod. Lauren looks up from her computer as he retells the story. “Really?! Where!” Lauren has not.

They both though know who they’d like to see wearing their designs next. I actually don’t even have to ask because Michael already has an answer. “I want Solange to wear our clothes.” Lauren nods, “Solange would be amazing.” Michael stops for a second before adding “Solange is goals. Chloë Sevigny is goals.”

Once they’ve said it, I can’t help but picture Solange and Chloë in everything they’ve designed. It’s actually strange to think they haven’t worn the brand’s utilitarian modern take on workwear yet. Not so much because they would look perfect in them (although they would) but more so because Lorod feels like a brand for artists, something both women are. Something Michael and Lauren are as well.

 

On the walk to the studio, up the steps of the townhouse Lauren lives and works out of, art is everywhere. There are perfectly curated vignettes on the table of old photographs and playing cards (the ace of hearts has Lorod stamped onto it). There are portraits of Frida Kahlo next to sketches. There are canvases created by Lauren’s boyfriend who is an artist and whose studio is below Lorod’s; they have a great dane whose eyes are as blue as denim, who looks like a painting herself.

“We are surrounded by so many of our peers who are artists, whether it’s interiors or painting or sculpture or photography” Lauren says. Michael quickly chimes in, “It’s like a free association between contemporary art or one garment that we research.”

But their inspiration isn’t just art, Lauren explains. “Gender is a big deal for us. What is happening in the world right now is a huge influence on what we’re doing and women being able to dress like boys or feel powerful in a full suits that’s not tits out and heels.”

 

Michael admires Lauren’s ability to tailor vintage boys clothes for her body. It’s this ability to take something old and make it new that excites him, “I think taking our references in vintage Americana in the ’50s and sort of have a really narrow view of what Americana is, I think it’s important for us to interpret Americana in a way that reflects our community and its diversity and our diverse interest, whether that be people baring faith or ethnic backgrounds, or gender identities.”

As he talks Lauren is flaunting a yellow men’s vintage bowling shirt. “There is just so much wrong with fashion in our world and it’s really exciting and cool to have a platform where we can feature diverse models and do collaborations with friends who are working at something. I don’t know...it’s my only place where I feel like I can do my part, to a certain extent. I feel so small otherwise.”

And even if Lauren doesn’t realize, nothing about Lorod feels small. Not the great dane on her lap, not the scope of her and Michael’s references, not the amount of celebrity who wears (and will wear) their clothes. Lorod feels as big as the zipper on their signature pair of jeans.

Part of the series:

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