Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop LÖV – Photos by Achraf Issami for The Style Line
“I think LÖV celebrates personal style in that it is
made to erase restrictions,” says designer Maike Lüdenbach. “Our underwear has much more creative variety than the usual lingerie, so the pieces can be used in many different ways and provide an increased level of comfort. You can layer them over blouses, have them peek through a see-through shirt or wear them as a top with a nice blazer on top. It’s up to you.” The power of choice is just one of the many driving forces behind the success of the emerging Vienna-based intimates brand LÖV, which prides itself on championing diversity, strength and perhaps most importantly comfort (in all regards) for women everywhere. LÖV’s empowering womanifesto further outlines the brand’s mission, but we thought it would be best to chat with the woman at the helm of it all. In this studio visit, enjoy an exclusive look into Maike’s space captured by her partner in crime Achraf and discover our full conversation with Maike who shared more of her story, her experiences with the brand so far and what advice she has for those looking to pursue similar design endeavors.
*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2016 AND REFLECTS UPDATED CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT AND INTRODUCTION
Hello my name is Maike
Lüdenbach and I am the founder of LÖV. I would say I’m a very creative person who has endless new ideas. I follow my gut. People watching is one of my top five favorite things to do, especially the little things that seem to happen without anybody noticing it… a small exchange of kindness between two people. That is what moves me. Many people may think I’m very reserved or serious because of my German background but I have a very Spanish side to me. I really like to have a good laugh and dance like nobody’s watching. I love meeting friends and having lavish home cooked meals or sitting by the beach with friends drinking wine. Quality is very important to me. I’m not much about what things are supposed to be but more about what they actually are. Let me try to explain what I mean by that: It’s like a painting, I couldn’t care less how famous or expensive a piece of art is, I will love it if it speaks to me.
My partner said something the other day that really resonated with me, “You think German but you feel Spanish!” I consider myself to be loyal and trustworthy. Family and friends are the most important things to me and building strong relationship with beautiful people from the inside out is what I treasure the most. I feel very protective of them.
Talk to us about the inception of LÖV. How do you hope it literally and figuratively translates as well as informs the modern woman’s approach to style?
It took about three years from the first steps like finding a name and brand design to meeting the right people to focus on product development and production as it is today. Many ups and downs. Admittedly I was about to quit a couple of times. I think it is important to be honest about the struggle it is to build a business of one’s own so other entrepreneurs are encouraged to keep going. In the end, the message I want to get across with LÖV is just too important for me so I kept fighting for my vision. LÖV has a strong message that is supported by its visuals and its simple modern design. Our campaigns are not photoshopped and we try to work with girls that are from different nationalities and can bring their unique personality to the shoot and across the screen.
I think figuratively the design of LÖV’s underwear in itself gets the message across. We don’t use push ups, underwires nor padding, nothing that creates a false illusion of what the LÖV woman has to offer – because who she is as a person is more than enough to feel good about herself.
What has your experience been like in building a brand in Vienna?
Building a brand in Vienna has been very interesting. I came here for completely different reasons and arriving in a new city without knowing anyone and building a business at the same time can become a bit lonely. But once I found the artisans who would become crucial for developing my designs I found likeminded people, a very supportive and loving group of strong individuals who are extremely passionate about what they do. Let me just say that without the beautiful people and support at the Schnittbogen, especially Michaela Hudecova Königshofer and Julia Huber, LÖV would never be what it has become today. The beautiful thing about Vienna is that there is still a very big community of artisanship and craftsmanship is still very encouraged.
People here know the cost and value the work of the artisan and that has been one of the most impactful discoveries I have made. Also, the mutual agreement on the importance of sustainability has been very welcoming. It enabled me to believe in my idea, persuade my beliefs and became one less obstacle to overcome.
How do you think creativity contributes to some of the world’s bigger conversations and how do you think LÖV is playing a role in this shift in thinking?
I believe creativity is a means to express an emotion or an impulse a person has to try and make sense of it all. Looking at it like that, those who express themselves in a creative way are having an intimate conversation with themselves. When we present other people with the result of our conversation it might present the observer with a question and so a dialogue is born. As they say… the more personal the thing is that you create the more universal it becomes.
Is there one piece in particular that you think really speaks to LÖV’s mission?
I wouldn’t think that there is one piece that defines LÖV’s mission more than another one. Every piece we did for the “Tropic of Cancer“ campaign has its own story.
LÖV mean leaf in Swedish and references the first underwear mentioned in history, which is the fig leaf Adam and Eve each wore under the tree of temptation. We were looking for a name that could evoke a back-to-basics approach and represent something natural. Each name in the LÖV collection carries a name of a tree, flower or plant that inspired the design. The meadow top’s design has very straight lines imitating a meadow, the Bolean body has extra long sleeves inspired by the length Birch trees are known for and so on. You can get all the info if you subscribe to our newsletter!
How would you advise the next generation of makers, creative and fashion profession professionals to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love?
I think loving what you do is the only way you will be able to leave an imprint in the world. The only advice I feel I can share is this: Listen to your intuition, always. Follow your heart and don’t stray from your goal, no matter how many people pretend to know better than you. Do everything always in the best of your capacity with kindness. Spread the love with everything you do. At least, that is my motto.