Meet Loisida, The Emerging Brand Turning ‘Ugly’ Into A Compliment
A fresh take on maximalism.
It’s rare to be present for a birth of a brand. Those attending emerging fashion label Loisida’s debut on May 25 seemed to understand that they were witnessing something special. Crowded into booths and tables inside The Box, New York City’s impossible-to-get-into nightclub frequented by some of the boldest It girls — like Rihanna and Julia Fox — a score of drum-heavy, oontz-oontz music set the mood. Models ambled down the makeshift runway in lace-tiered bralettes, miniskirts with rounded, exaggerated hips, and cutout trousers that stopped just shy of the upper pelvis. Concluding with interpretive dance, acrobatics, and ribbon-twirling, Loisida’s Resort ‘23 show was a baroque-meets-burlesque, all-out soirée.
Carson Lovett and Veronika Vilim, the label’s co-founders, made one thing extraordinarily clear with their sui generis debut: Loisida is a brand for the weirdos, oddballs, and misfits of the world.
“Embracing who you are internally rather than what society puts on you is part of the story we are trying to tell,” Vilim shares over Zoom. “All this weirdness, brightness, excitement, a non-traditional, nonlinear, non-formal life — we want to bring that to the fashion industry.” She’s currently on tour with her synth-punk band Cumgirl8 (she plays guitar and sings backup vocals), and tunes in for the call from the backseat of a Georgia-bound bus. “Today’s also my birthday,” admits Vilim, a born-and-raised New Yorker and model who’s worked in the fashion industry for over 12 years.
In addition to it being her special day, there’s quite a lot for Lovett and Vilim — a couple as well as a creative duo — to celebrate. Loisida began as a sort of experimental mind meld for the two of them, and the Resort ‘23 drop ultimately proved the collaboration successful. “Essentially, this collection was both of us saying, ‘Let’s just explore what our aesthetic sensibilities would be like together,’” Lovett, a Central Saint Martins student, shares when joining the Zoom from a bench outside of a Lower East Side coffee shop.
Speaking of the LES, the duo add that they always knew the brand would serve as a love letter to the New York City neighborhood and chose to honor it by adopting its endearing, colloquial nickname (Say it slower. Lo-is-id-a — Lower East Side. Hear it?). But aside from that, they intentionally worked without many parameters when forming Loisida’s central aesthetic. “We knew something was right when it excited us, and that’s always a good thing to follow down the rabbit hole,” Lovett says. “A lot of Loisida’s identity was formed in that process, of just naturally making things and emotionally responding.”
That brand identity in question is, well, extremely weird. Go to Loisida’s site, and you’ll be greeted by poorly Photoshopped edits of Vilim in a lace-trimmed minidress in front of a castle and standing alongside a red-eyed rat that’s scaled way out of proportion. Another meme depicts a plate of pigs in a blanket with the model’s face superimposed onto the crescent rolls. The brand’s clothing is ridiculous and outlandish, too, with some pieces — low-slung striped silk trousers tied at the ankles and bubble-sleeved puffer jackets — really leaning into the clown aspect of the clowncore trend.
Lovett and Vilim happily adopt the title of jesters, though, because they’re very much in on the joke. “We like to keep this certain lightness of being involved constantly,” says Lovett. “We’ve found that there's so many people who are just so stiff and serious about fashion. And at the end of the day, it's just clothes — you can be playful, have fun with it, and blow off some steam.”
I remark that this comical, joyful attitude reminds me of the recent trend of dopamine-boosting, maximalist fashion. At this, Lovett’s eyes grow wide, and he warns me I’ve just set off a fuse. “I love, love, love maximalism,” he says. “In my apartment in London, I’ve surrounded myself with these extraordinarily decorative objects and images. There’s no wall without a tapestry on it — it’s very baroque, 17th century-era France.”
It makes sense, then, that Lovett and Vilim pulled inspiration from this specific period when working on Loisida’s debut collection. “I love the way Marie Antoinette essentially augmented her body with her gowns,” Vilim says, citing the hip-jutting panniers and bustles the French royal was famous for wearing. “And I think that that interest in accentuating the body’s shape is actually very modern to today’s society. Look to how popular corsets are right now,” she offers.
“[The Resort ’23 collection] was about exaggerating and understanding what is happening now with people’s bodies, and almost wrestling with how we view beauty standards. Think of Kim Kardashian and all these other people whose bodies are being held up as idealistic,” Vilim says, adding that The Stepford Wives, a 1975 film that explores themes of female conformity and submission, was another central point of inspiration for the duo. “This collection speaks to an idea of transitioning yourself away from this ideal standard and feeling very comfortable with your body and how you are, no matter how that is,” she adds.
Ultimately, though, their primary mission is to translate these cerebral themes into wearable fashion. “We’re very aware that we’re making clothes at the end of the day,” Lovett says. “We play with abstract elements but hone them in to make something energetic, expressive, and loud — clothing that speaks to what our idea of beauty is but that can also be worn. And,” he adds, “I also know that maximalism, at times, can kill structure.” Here, Lovett calls on his favorite maximalist epoch to illustrate his point: “For example, when you go into a baroque building, you can’t see what the interior architecture looks like because it’s so decorated in ornaments.”
To ensure Loisida’s clothing remains wearable, Lovett and Vilim lean into bold pattern-making and clashing materials. “We found our way through making about a million different swatches of textiles and prints, and then mixing them up and mashing them together,” describes Vilim of the brand’s many high-quality, hand-printed silks and collage-like fabrications.
The couple also discovered that in order to make this aggressively individualistic clothing, the clothing needed to be made per individual. They launched the label with certain pieces — like those that feature the labor-intensive silks — that are made to order and measure. “We want Loisida to very much not be fast fashion,” she says. “We want our clothes to be things somebody can keep in their closet for their great-grandchild.”
As our conversation comes to a close — Lovett making his way back to the studio, Vilim still zooming along on a highway somewhere in Georgia — the topic settled on the label’s future. Lovett says ready-to-buy items will be available for e-commerce in August, and you’ll be seeing Loisida in stores starting in late November. They also plan to start working on Loisida’s upcoming collection next month, too, which they hope to put out in January 2023.
Have they found the driving narrative for the upcoming series? Not yet — but they will, and you can expect it to be as deliciously quirky and out-of-the-box as Resort ’23. “I think we’ll just get better at storytelling over time because, really, we’re still kind of the new kids on the block,” says Lovett. “We certainly have a ton to learn, but I’m really happy with the language we’re developing,”
When pressed to describe precisely what that language is, he paints a picture: “It’s kind of like when you sit in Seward Park on a Saturday afternoon in the LES, and you hear all these sounds of music and laughter. They are all kind of competing against each other, but also not — they’re just presenting this one weird amalgamation of sound. We want Loisida to be like that.” In short, the brand’s cacophony of color and expression may evolve over time, but its ethos will remain the same: to be a wonderfully zany refuge for the weird and the whacky.