Chicness and empowerment, the creation of TwentyFour Fashion
We were fortunate enough to meet Lucie Manna, founder of TwentyFour Fashion, the stylish new label bringing chicness back to functional. Not only do her designs mark the beginning of what promises to be an exciting career in fashion, but her incredible story behind the brand, is one of true empowerment and would inspire anyone who reads it. Lucie Manna is more than a fashion label founder or designer, she's a true girlboss and I would recommend anyone who is facing hard times to read this interview to show that adversity can be triumphed over. This is not just a label to watch, this is a woman to watch.
If you could describe your brand as a type of music, what would it be?
If I could describe TwentyFour as a type of music I think it would have to be Jazz. Jazz music has timeless and versatile qualities, so many different generations can appreciate its multiple layers and dimensions. It would be wonderful to think that we had built TwentyFour around the same elements, of course within our business model we have a target market. However, the essence that drives TwentyFour is the versatility and timelessness that potentially reaches out beyond our target market.
Describe a typical Twentyfour wearer?
Our target market is women between the ages of 23-36, she is a cosmopolitan working woman with a passion for dressing well. The TwentyFour woman likes to wear classic styles that have a contemporary twist.
Which item of your collection is currently your favorite?
It is really hard for me to choose one favorite, and it changes all the time depending on how I am feeling. Currently, it is a jumpsuit, called the Deyla and in cobalt blue. The catsuit shape and bold coloring make it a very empowering piece. One of the things that I like most about the Deyla is its versatility, I have worn it with heels to dress it up and trainers and a leather jacket to dress it down. Sometimes though if I am having a day where I am not feeling so bold, there is another jumpsuit in the collection which is a favorite of mine Tessa in navy. It is subtle and sophisticated this winter I have been throwing over a chunky knit jumper and a pair of converse.
Tell me about the story behind Twentyfour fashion.
For me to be asked about the story behind TwentyFour is so important. I think that people can assume that you just woke up one day and thought ‘I like clothes. I am going to start a clothing line.' The real story is, that in my year of being twenty-four a lot of life-changing events occurred in pretty quick succession. I was studying for a BA in English literature, and about a quarter of the way into my second year I found out I was pregnant, only to find out a few weeks later that my Dad had terminal cancer and my boyfriend (now husband) asked me to marry him. I finished my second year at university and deferred my final year to have my son and be with my Dad. At this time I was looking for an escape, for me how you feel emotionally and the way you dress yourself go hand in hand. Emotionally, I was in turmoil but I didn't want this to be reflected in the way I dressed. I created TwentyFour because I wanted to form a brand that offered you wardrobe staples that you could style in a way to suit your needs. I strongly believe that the way you look on the outside is a reflection of how you feel on the inside. For me, being twenty-four was pretty hectic - but my design ethos is all about simplicity because ‘In the midst of chaos there is an opportunity' (Sun-Tzu). Life has moved on for me now, I had my son (who has just turned three!), unfortunately, my Dad passed away soon after he was born and I went back to university and got my degree last year.
You describe your brand as coming about due to the lack of “simple, fuss free clothing”. Why do you think this type of clothing is important?
"Simple, fuss-free clothing" has become a bit of a tagline for me, however, there is a serious side to it. I think people take for granted how much anxiety there is behind getting dressed. Society puts a huge amount of pressure on women to keep up and look a certain way if you don't wear a certain trend you feel marginalised. I think even more so this makes women put further pressure on themselves. There is such heavy focus on social media - we all end up questioning the way we look, it is hugely dangerous and it stems from this age we live in. We are surrounded by edited imagery or fast fashion where trends change so quickly it makes you anxious trying to keep on top of them. TwentyFour opposes fast fashion, our simple and fuss-free designs are yours to wear and style in ways that suit your individuality without the pressure.
You design all the clothing yourself even though your background is in english literature. How has this impacted your designs?
I have always been a creative soul and I think English literature is an open subject that accommodated my creativity, my BA title is English Literature and Creative writing, so I was able to tap into my own imagination, whilst learning about other people's. From a more general perspective though, doing a degree in a subject where reading is integral and essay writing is a commitment that you have to be ready for, actually helped set me up for this industry. Despite the fact that I have always loved to sketch and draw, and designing and bringing my ideas to life is so exciting, there have been times in the process when I could quite easily have given up. I have to remind myself of the times when I would be juggling a screaming baby and a 5000-word essay - nothing is impossible! This has impacted my designs because it has given me the ability to be practical and forward thinking, whilst remaining creative and producing new designs.
If any celebrity could be spotted wearing one of your pieces, who would it be and which piece would she be wearing?
Lily Collins style is sleek and sophisticated, she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, it looks like her look is always well-suited to the vibe she wants to achieve. She keeps it classic but adds her little contemporary edge to her style and I could imagine her in the Tessa Navy Jumpsuit. Emma Watson is another actress whose styling is always done so well, she focuses on simple beautiful pieces and creating contemporary silhouettes, she also works a lot of soft tailoring into her looks which is something TwentyFour pride their designs on. I can really imagine her wearing the Celina Silk Suit in Pink.
Where do you see your brand going in the next five years?
Over the next 5 years, I would love to expand, it would be great to start looking at concessions in department stores not only in the UK but further afield. I think the TwentyFour concept would be really well received in cities like Paris, New York, and Hong Kong.
What does sustainability in fashion mean to you and how have you addressed this in your brand?
In the beginning, I did not set out to create a sustainable brand. However, the more I have learned on the damages of fast fashion, the ecological and the ethical issues that it causes; the more I have felt the need to be proactive in addressing it. In the last year, I have moved my manufacturing from Poland to London. We also source most of (not all, but we are working on it) our fabric from the UK. I am working on it so that by 2019 we will source everything responsibly and ethically, we also only launch 10 new designs each year to try and do our bit to slow fashion down. The majority of our designs are not seasonal which is more sustainable in the long run.
Do you think you will ever expand into menswear?
Of course, I would love to launch a menswear line but I have to be realistic. Once the brand becomes more established I think we can start thinking about menswear. It is a hard journey launching into women's wear alone, I need to focus on where I am now, and I am sure this will allow me to expand in the not too distant future.