“In 1991 I was fifteen. I had rollerskates and would go to Amsterdam to visit the flea markets. I saw vintage Penny Lane coats and jewels from India and I fell in love.”

With her love for the 70’s, Marije Braber designs beautiful, vintage inspired pieces for Lovely Lane, her slow fashion brand. To put it in her own words: “The woman’s clothing is reminiscent of Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Janis Joplin and all icons of that time. Cinematic and dreamy”. 

Hi Marije, thanks for sharing your story with us. How are you doing?
I am doing fine, having two boys at home because of the corona crisis brings us in a different way of life. They love being with us every day and we do homeschooling in the mornings and every afternoon we take the boys out to the park. I cook for us and that’s about it. Lovely Lane had to close the webshop so I am working half speed. Just being creative and creating some stock with the atelier. No rush, no clients waiting for their pre-orders. It feels like a slow life what I longed for quite a while. I do miss my parents and I miss having some time for myself and together with my husband.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where did you grow up and where are you living now?
I grew up in a village next to Amsterdam with my parents and sister and brother. We lived in Indonesia for a while when I was 7 years old and that was the biggest most special time in my youth. Now I live in Amsterdam in a lush area next to the Zoo. Very happy to have a beautiful home with lots of windows and trees to look at. We sleep on the attic hearing the birds in the trees every morning. While living in the city center…

How was your love for vintage born?
In 1991 I was fifteen. I had rollerskates and would go to Amsterdam to visit the flea markets. I saw vintage Penny Lane coats and jewels from India and I fell in love. I wore black denim flares and white flowy blouses and big necklaces with pendants. I loved music from the 70’s and interiors and clothing from that era. So I was in love and now I am 44 and still that feeling never changed.

You’re designing beautiful, 70’s inspired pieces for Lovely Lane, your business in slow fashion. How did it all start?
Thank you!! My business started as a children’s clothing brand with gender neutral clothes made for babies and toddlers. Flares, jumpsuits, sweaters and caftans. Only terrycloth and cotton. Very comfortable and rainbows and geese on the sleeves. After a while my children grew out of it and I decided to step up my game and change the collection to woman’s wear. And now, 2 years passed by and I still get questions from moms if I have a pair of toddler flares laying around as they miss them. I am a collector of vintage for myself. And I have always changed my garments to my taste or fit. Always seventies fashion on my mind since I was 15. Now I am 44 and making all I was searching for all these years…

Can you tell us a little bit about your process when creating new styles, from inspiration to finished garment?
I draw and think and then I ask my seamstress to make what I draw. I give her all she needs: fabric, lace, buttons, lining and yarn. Then after about 2 – 6 rounds of fitting we get to the perfect dress or other piece. Some are easy, some get stuck and put away to be finished later. And then we have a prototype size Small. The other atelier makes the same dress as the prototype to try out. We adjust what’s needed and then we grade it to all the sizes in patterns. I make pictures and the pre-orders can start.

How do you select your fabrics and which ones do you like to work with most?
I try to use the same fabric for several designs to be efficient and make no waste. I find them in The Netherlands. And the lace I found somewhere on an attic of a big company where they have it in stock from the early days. Old stock. Pure cotton.

Best experience that Lovely Lane has brought to you so far?
EVERYTHING. The contact with clients. Women with al kinds of questions and personal reasons to buy a garment from Lovely Lane. Learning about the production do’s and don’ts from all kinds of mistakes we make along the way. The backside of the business is like my second nature.. producing, organising and being a pivot in the web of this system we created from idea to deliverance to clients. So there is not one specific experience but the whole road so far was amazing and sometimes hard and worrying (money wise) but in the end I keep pushing this Lovely Lane motor because it brings so much joy to us all.

What’s your vision on sustainability within the future of fashion, do you believe the fast fashion system can change?
I believe in 20 years we have changed. A big part of our well fortuned western society will buy more expensive sustainable clothes. It will have expanded; more brands, more choices. Same as for food, in 20 years we cannot believe we ate pigs and cows. Just like we cannot believe we used to smoke in airplanes. Things can change.

Any tips for designers out there that would love to start an eco-friendly clothing line, but are not quite sure where to start?
Start VERY small. And do not start with big expectations, glamorous branding, big collections and high-end photoshoots. Just start and roll on. Slowly. Like a snowball. Make, sell, buy new fabrics, make, sell, grow, sell, buy new fabrics and invest in new designs, make, sell, grow. Slowly. Be here now. And be surprised of all successes. And celebrate every step.

UT Final Five…

Favorite book or movie?
I am not a book-reader. I am a music lover.
Movies: the Broken Circle Breakdown,The Note Book, No country for old men, Memento and Biutiful (spelled as they spelled it).

Most beloved item in your wardrobe?
A big pile of insanely beautiful vintage dresses.

Most valuable life lesson?
If you feel you love someone please let them know. Be honest, share your inner-self. Always. Also with friends. Share the things that are fun and inspirational and your lows. Share your insecurities. People love that and that is the only way to find true love and real connections.

Best Vintage shopping tip?
ETSY, Squash Blossom Vintage, Tavin Boutique, Moonshine Vintage.

Insiders tip to Amsterdam?
Stay inside. Hide for Corona. Haha.

Photography: Latoya van der Meeren

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