Featured Image: LÖVthelabel
We spoke to Maike Lüdenbach, the woman behind the brand making sustainable underwear for all women: LÖV.
LÖV has a powerful message of comfort, diversity and strength; ensuring that women feel beautiful as they are. Counterbalancing the narrative of mass media, which frequently tells women they ought to improve their physical appearance in order to be happier, LÖV is rectifying the impact of it with their products, #LOVYOURSELF campaign and upcoming podcasts. Inspiringly, Lüdenbach has improved the Fashion industry’s message to women, and, she is continuing to pave the way for the women of all ethnicities and sizes to be catered for and celebrated.
What was the reason behind Löv and how did it begin?
LÖV is the vessel through which I can create a platform that matters to me. I was let go by my modelling agency after turning down the cosmetic surgery they wanted me to have. After starving myself for over five years, my body was sick, and the lifestyle became unsustainable. I love fashion and it is what I knew best having worked in the industry since being 14 years old, so, I chose to study a master degree in fashion design.
I knew I wanted to create a space where I could show what I missed seeing growing up: all kinds of women. Growing up in my teenage years, so many girls were suffering from eating disorders, and we all wanted to look like the girls in magazines or music videos. Therefore, I didn’t just want to create a product; I needed something to fight for, a passion and since the place we as women can hide the least is underwear, LÖV was born.
It’s inspiring and empowering to find a lingerie brand that aims to cater to a woman’s needs and comforts rather than their appearance. What was your reason for this choice/ why is this important to you?
Making underwear, clothing and especially shoes which are comfortable is extremely important on so many levels to me. I remember reading an article which explained that women lost a certain amount of energy choosing what to wear in the morning by deliberating: “is it appropriate”, “will I get harassed”, “will I stand out too much”, ” is it too frigid”, “can I bend without my boobs falling out or my butt crack showing”. Then, once the outfit is decided and being worn it’s then the worry of: “did my skirt slip up”, “can anyone see my cellulite” and so on. So, I think we spend too much time on things that distract us from what I find truly important, such as, “how am I going to excel in my job or at school?” or, “how am I going to have the most fun in my body moving freely?” or, “how will I feel safe and strong?”. It’s similar to the concept of designers creating high heeled shoes with the message: ‘I want women to be empowered and feel strong’ and then they are put into a super tight dress that doesn’t let them walk more than one little step at the time. It does not compute with my own experience.
We admire the natural beauty in women of all sizes and ethnicities that your brand represents, what has it been like in creating a more diverse representation of women since you had started LÖV?
In the beginning, I started mentioning to photographers I wanted racially diverse models and I was actually told that I wouldn’t find anyone. I was also told that the makeup artists or hair stylists didn’t have experience working with women of colour, so, I asked them to get educated. I ask the creatives to get to know and be prepared for styling an afro or working with a dark foundation, or, how to adjust the background and lighting for the different skin tones. It is true that in the beginning, it was hard to find women who resembled what I want to represent, because barely any agencies worked with women of colour or plus size women (not even plus size- just a regular 38/40inches seemed impossible). Or, the women were too ashamed of their bodies to be photographed which is what makes me the most sad. But that is why I want to empower all women. We are all so beautiful and too blinded by societal norms, prejudices and misinformation that we can’t even see that what stares back at us in the mirror is a miracle. There are more brands in the USA representing diversity but I find there is a lack thereof in Europe. Also, seeing more and more platforms genuinely supporting all women as well as transgender women is important too because everybody who identifies as a woman should be included in the movement.
It’s also important not to forget that there is a big part of the equation that needs to be addressed to men. Men need to learn so much about what it means to be a woman (and vice versa- I think the pressure to be masculine is a real problem). They need to learn the value of women’s strength, resilience, intelligence, and capability. Life gets ugly and in that lies a lot of beauty in broken pieces, in scarred pieces. This ‘trophy’ mentality in ‘achieving’ a significant other needs to stop, and so, we must educate our men too.
The #LÖVYOURSELF campaign is an amazing source of honest opinions on being a woman today while celebrating female creatives. What made you want to start this alongside the lingerie brand?
The LÖVYOURSELF Project has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had. I grew up as an only child and working as a model always had me stand out from cliques so I was looking to connect with my community and find a place to share and feel empowered. There is something so important in female friendships. My dream is to take it around the world and interview a scope of people, from artists in New York to artisans in Africa and see how we perceive things differently and others the same.
LÖV is becoming so much more than I could have wished for. The fact that I get emails from women thanking me for the confidence that LÖV provided and that they were brave enough to take their first #belfie is amazing. Now I engage with my audience through Instatsories, sharing tips on self care, self love and sendig out positive vibes. The feedback has been beautiful.
Any new projects with LÖV we can look forward to being released soon?
I have been teasing a podcast (which I am very excited about) where I will be sharing the emails I have been receiving, as well as stories of women on body shame, sexual harassment and talk about my own experience.
I am preparing a call in option, until then women can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: LÖVAID.