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Tuesday, May 28th 2013

Shopbop Alum Kate Ciepluch on Her Line, LAVEER

LAVEER Designer Kate Ciepluch wearing the Maxwell Vest.

If you’ll indulge us for a moment, we’re going to get a little gushy. We can hardly be blamed, seeing as how the subject of our pride is the former Shopbop fashion director, Kate Ciepluch. The woman who launched her fashion career with us and, in turn, played a pivotal role in making Shopbop into the fashion destination it is today has ventured out on her own, designing a line of jackets and vests that will find (and have found) an easy place in cool closets across the country and the globe.

We took some time to talk with Kate about her time at Shopbop and the inspiration behind LAVEER.

SHOPBOP: You worked at Shopbop for a decade before leaving to launch LAVEER. What was the hardest thing to adjust to after branching out on your own?
KATE CIEPLUCH: At Shopbop, I had partners in crime. Whether I was in market looking at a rack or choosing an image for the homepage, it was a collaborative effort with amazing minds voicing their perspectives. Now, I have to make major decisions on my own on everything from the business end/financials to the design elements. I catch myself turning to ask someone else their opinion, but at the end of the day, it's all on me. Scary! But so fun!

SB: You really cut your teeth at Shopbop, starting at the Madison, Wisconsin, headquarters and eventually playing a key role in opening the New York office. How did that experience prepare you to launch your own label?
KC: My experience at Shopbop showed me what it was like to work at a startup that became wildly successful. Rolling up your sleeves and figuring out how to get EVERYTHING done in all capacities. There is no “that’s not a part of my role” or “that’s not my job.” I also had the privilege of meeting really wonderful people in this industry and watching brands grow from infancy to having important runway shows during NY fashion week. I was able to absorb how their collections did at the retail level, how to create a brand that embodies the girl in your head, and to understand what is missing in her closet and what fashion will inspire her to make a purchase. No easy task...

SB: You took the name LAVEER from an old nautical term meaning “to sail against the wind.” What does that mean for your brand?
KC: When I had the idea of starting a fashion line focusing on the jacket, I dove in and researched the category. I read stories about the history of blazers, field jackets, bomber jackets, motorcycle jackets—what purpose they were intended to serve and why they were constructed the way they were. The name points to the mission of my designs: to always have that tailored heritage silhouette, while going against the grain with details. For example, all of my jackets have an inside pocket that fits an iPhone perfectly. When I’m walking to work listening to music, it gives me really easy access to my phone.

SB: How does your personal style influence the LAVEER look?
KC: I have always enjoyed balancing something earthy and free with something mature and tailored. There are prints, fabrics, and colors that always find their way into my life, whether I’m painting my living room or buying a piece of wrapping paper for a gift. I love that tomboy / military / preppy look done a little gritty and badass.

SB: Summer is just around the corner. How will you work LAVEER into your summer look?
KC: Summer is the time when airy, PJ-inspired silk bottoms feel appropriate. Coupled with my Maxwell Vest or Cropped Contour Blazer, the look is more powerful and sexy, less hippie-dippy. I specifically had weddings in mind when I designed the Cropped Contour Blazer because I was so sick of wearing shawl scarves over my dresses.

Shop LAVEER jackets.

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