The Kings Road in Chelsea, West London, has long been associated with high fashion as iconic figuressuch as Mary Quant, inventor of the mini skirt in the 1960’s and Vivienne Westwood, both opened their first boutique stores before achieving international acclaim.
The road was originally created and exclusively used by King Charles II in order to travel to Kew, though others living in high society were also allowed to use the thoroughfare.
So what better place to set up a fashion business in 2019 than the Kings Road, where Marion Rabate, Founder and CEO of Ernest Leoty, has been based for the past two years.
The French native grew up in London, practicing ballet for years before moving to Boston to study Engineering at MIT, leading to a successful career in the financial industry at Goldman Sachs, but a calling to her first love of dance and being creative never left, culminating in the founding of her very own fashion company.
“It’s a luxury activewear brand”, says Rabate, “and one which I decided to revive from the 1800’s, as the original Ernest Leoty was the very first to introduce stretch into corsetry.”
“The heritage of the brand has been our inspiration for creating activewear beautiful while technically outstanding as our products are produced in the best sports factories in the world.”
“I’m also inspired by thinking about what I would want to wear as a customer, as well as what I see at couture shows as I love the use of colour which is important to me as a painter.”
Growing a business, no matter the industry, is hard so what have you found to be the biggest challenges and what are your goals for the future of the company?
“Being able to expand and respond to demand whilst controlling our brand DNA is important because growing too fast can threaten many things, we have to be very careful with our brand but of course, our priority is growth.”
“We’re expanding into the US and Middle East and we want to launch new product categories like ski and swim wear as well as accessories and outerwear which will help us achieve the long term goal of creating a lifestyle brand.”
And what would you say are the best aspects of running a fashion business as well as the most difficult ones?
“I love hearing positive feedback from people who grow to love the brand as well as seeing how passionate our team, industry partners and others are.”
“But I would say that one of the hardest things is deciding what to say ‘no’ to as we have so many opportunities to explore but only so much time and money, so we can’t do everything.”
And when it comes to fashion, what does it really mean to you?
“I believe that fashion is expression. It allows people to communicate visually, creating an impression whilst allowing an individual to feel like themselves. It is also connected to craftmanship and creating the perfect product, seam or cut, something we aim for at Ernest Leoty.”
So aside from running a business, how do you relax and where do you go when you need a break from everything?
“Playing sports helps me to relax, mainly yoga and spinning, as I am able to relax my mind and escape into ‘the zone’ but when I need to get away I love to go skiing in Switzerland or visit Southern Italy to relax on the beach.”
You were invited to join the team at Oetker Collection and Eden Being in May, to celebrate the launch of their brand new blog, what was that like and what did you make of the event?
“It was amazing and we were honoured to be a part of the launch because I’m a huge fan of the Oetker Collection, which is a real representation of luxury.”
“I truly believe that lifestyle and digital content are key drivers in todays world, where nomads can seamlessly work from one city to another, so finding a sense of ‘home away from home’ which the Oetker Collection provides, is amazing.”
And finally, when it comes to the future of fashion, eCommerse and travel, how do you see things developing over the next ten years?
“At Ernest Leoty, we’re exploring ways to create fabrics which are sustainable and the best in class for technical quality in the world, which is what I think the rest of the industry will aim for.
“Today’s consumers are much more socially conscious and are willing to pay for quality to avoid ‘fast fashion’.”
“I believe that eCommerce will become much more interactive, with new platforms emerging within social media.”
“And finally, I think that the trend of travel being highly personalised will expand as people grow to place value on finding a feeling of home abroad, especially to digital nomads whos numbers will continue to grow in the coming years.”
To view the full Ernest Leoty range, visit www.ernestleoty.com