In conversation with Leanne Beckford
Fashion Designer, London, UK
Leanne Beckford, a London based designer, graduated with a BA in Fashion Design from the University of East London in 2014. Leanne debuted her Spring/Summer 2016 collection for her own label LEE REINA this past October.
LEE REINA is inspired by confident, strong, and warrior-like women who exude sex appeal while embodying the ‘tomboy’ culture. The label is influenced by Leanne’s own background; she combines her love and extensive knowledge of travel with London’s urban culture, strong 90’s HIP HOP references, menswear, geometric art, and modern culture.
Everybody has a hobby or career – the things you are good at and do every day, five to seven days a week. But for Leanne, her career is more than just about being a successful fashion designer, it’s about following her passion and living her dream. I was lucky enough to meet with her recently while she visited Vancouver to discuss her label, her inspiration, and her future aspirations. She’s pretty cool, to say the least.
Her Campus: I love that your brand represents confident, strong, warrior-like women with sex appeal. Could you elaborate a bit more on your vision and design?
Leanne Beckford: I wanted to create a brand where women feel comfortable, confident and sexy wearing oversized clothes. I love menswear, but I wanted to design for women, so I combined the two. They are tomboys at heart, into sports, active or simply dislike restrictive clothing, and they have none to little insecurities. They are strong-minded and know exactly what they want and how to get it. Yet they know how to get dressed up in a cute dress and a pair of heels when they want to.
HC: Your concept is so creative and encourages self-expression. Would you say that your brand reflects a certain lifestyle?
LB: Like I said my women, my ‘warriors’, they most likely have quite active lives in the sense that they have busy agendas. Yes they care about their appearance but they’re not getting dressed for your approval, it’s for their own comfort. Ladies who wear LEE REINA are most likely to be in the creative industries, fashion is important to them but they don’t take themselves too seriously. LEE REINA isn’t a girly-girl brand; it’s quite the opposite, but with a hint of sexiness. Actually men ask about my jackets. They are unisex along with some other pieces I design.
HC: What inspired this?
LB: LEE REINA is inspired by my youth. I wore a lot of men’s clothes and still do. When I was really young my parents tried to get me to be a girly-girl and wear dresses. I was a tomboy and rebelled against them. I grew up listening to 90’s Hip Hop and R&B. I was influenced by a lot of the singers and rappers from that era who wore oversized clothes.
HC: Growing up, did you always know you wanted to be in the fashion industry?
LB: Yes, but I always wanted to do everything else. From a young age I was really into fashion. I studied fashion and art throughout school and then went on to university to study fashion design. I remember falling in love with the work of Gianni Versace and wanting my own store on London’s Bond Street.
HC: Could you tell me a bit more about your goals/aspirations?
LB: My other passion is travel. I’ve travelled quite a bit and it always inspires my collections. I love learning about different cultures and seeing diverse landscapes.
HC: Do you have any advice for young women in the fashion industry or business world?
LB: Have faith in what you do and stay true to yourself. Don’t try and be something you’re not, but remember why you started. Get as much experience as you can. Internships are key, and connect with people. I’ve had great opportunities working in the industry for some influential designers and gained valuable experience.
HC: Where do you hope to see yourself and your brand in 5 years?
LB: I want to grow LEE REINA. I hope to stock in boutiques and stores both in the UK and internationally. Maybe I’ll get to move to Canada. I’m in love with Vancouver!
Label meaning: LEE; nickname short for Leanne, REINA; Spanish for queen – a nickname Leanne developed while travelling in Latin America. And that’s just what she represents to me, a queen. Check out her adventures here and be sure to follow her instagram here for updates.
Images from Vogue