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Land of Women / Au Natural

Interview 13.07.17

Words Ellie Fazan Photography Lily Cummings and Heather Hazzan

What happens when women design for women? Can pants make you feel empowered? Mckenzie Raley and Sarah Belz had a vision of the future, A Land of Women. Now their minimalist range of underwear combines form and function. It’s beautiful, yet feels real. And what could be more empowering than that?

I wanted to create a brand that appealed to real women, not a fantasy

The idea was brewing for a while. Seeing Victoria’s Secret models on the runway didn’t make me want to buy what they were selling. I wanted to buy something real, but it didn’t exist. I decided to make it.

It was really just divine timing

A client knew a pattern cutter who that helped me make a prototype. Then I went to every single factory in the Garment District before I found somewhere that could make limited quantities within my price range. I met someone who had a background in lingerie startups. Now she’s my partner, Sarah.

Sometimes you have to jump into things and not analyse things too much

You’d just be paralysed if you worried about every detail. Even though it’s daunting it’s well worth the risk. The response was great and people really got what we were going for. To this day, we have a loyal following.

The fabrics we use have muscle

But we keep the silhouette simple so it doesn’t read as a sports bra. The design is as concise as it can be. I had a few ideas last season that were more complicated and intricate but at the end of the day, it just wasn’t us. Simple designs age well. Our pieces are investments.

When models turn up on set they have no makeup on and natural hair

They look stunning. If I were a customer, I’d want to see that, not the made up version. So I had this idea to use natural models in our campaigns. I wanted our photography to mirror our customers. Not only is it important to us to show models with relatable body types, but I also wanted some emotion and movement to come through in our imagery.

What could be more empowering than a Land of Women?

When I was thinking of names for the company, I wrote down all the qualities I wanted in the brand and what I wanted the message to be and it just popped into my mind. I wanted to capture that vastness that all women can imagine for themselves.

Mckenzie Raley

Sarah Belz

Words Ellie Fazan Photography Lily Cummings and Heather Hazzan
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