Interview Series: Tiffany Lee from Lilt Clothing
Welcome to MODA Interview Series, where we feature influencers and leaders in the fashion industry in the Chicago area and beyond to discuss their design inspirations, their creative backgrounds and what it means to be a self-starter in the fashion world today.
Launched in 2017, Lilt Clothing emerged onto the fashion scene as a sustainable womenswear company focused on using deadstock fabrics and made-to-order practices for their pieces. We had the pleasure of chatting with Tiffany Lee, the designer behind Lilt Clothing.
How would you describe Lilt's overall design aesthetic? Who is your ideal customer?
Lilt is feminine, clean and unexpected. I love playing with colors and draw inspiration from the simplicity and femininity of the 70s. My pieces are usually designed first by the fabric choice rather than a design deciding the fabric because of the way I source. I use deadstock textiles, usually faulty bolts with minor cosmetic issues and bolts with low yardage that don’t meet the minimums of larger brands so I can’t be married to an idea if I can’t find the right fabric. My ideal customer isn’t afraid to dress boldly feminine in today’s fashion climate that’s obsessed with streetwear trends. They understand slow fashion and have a desire to stay current but in a way that feels unique and special to their personal style and aesthetics.
What got you into the fashion industry?
I’ve always been drawn to creative careers and fashion is the one that really attracted me. I was very shy growing up, so clothing was a way to self express. Fashion design for me felt like a natural path of my personal trajectory, but deciding to run a business from it was a whole other obstacle I was completely unprepared for. Starting any kind of business is tough, for the most part I identify with the artistic right brain but have very strong left brain characteristics that really made me want to pursue operating my own brand.
What informs your design philosophy? Specifically, what interested you in starting a brand that focuses on sustainability?
I started Lilt after noticing the effects of my own consumerism and desiring an alternative way to stay on trend yet still feel unique while being conscious of my environmental and global impact. Many brands choose to manufacture with newly produced materials yet there’s literally warehouses stocked to the ceiling of deadstock textiles destined to go to waste. I knew that if I were going to start my own business it had to be one I could holistically be proud of, not just on a superficial level. Design-wise, I like to focus on longevity in both the design and construction.
As a brand that is based in Chicago, what parts of the city do you take inspiration from?
The weather! I’m a true Midwest girl and love the seasons.
How do you think being based in Chicago differentiates your brand from ones based in other major cities like Los Angeles or New York City?
I love the Midwest, there’s a sincere, hard-working energy here that isn’t palpable in the coast cities. I don’t have to care much about the fashion scene or politics, I can really focus on the personal satisfaction I get from designing. What’s great about the era we live in right now is the accessibility to start and source your own business anywhere whereas decades ago you had to be grounded near New York or LA to properly source materials and manufacture.
Can you describe Lilt's mission statement in a sentence?
Designing contemporary womenswear for the creative and bold that won’t drastically impact Mother Earth.
What is a milestone for Lilt that you are particularly proud of?
In general, I’m really proud of the awareness Lilt is providing about slower, more sustainable fashion. There’s been this great emergence of independent and conscious fashion brands and I’m proud to say Lilt is a part of that.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in pursuing fashion, design or retail as a career?
Always be learning and diversify your skillsets. It’s a constantly competitive field, so being on your toes and growing creatively and personally is essential.