- Aileen Yu |
Lucas Hugh is a London-based activewear brand that incorporates futuristic design with technical performance. Established in 2010 by co-CEO and Creative Director Anjhe Marcus, Lucas Hugh was the first to incorporate the fully-bonded seam –used in Olympic-quality swimwear –into activewear. The brand caught fire with the release of The Hunger Games in 2013 where Marcus designed and developed the training outfits featured in the film.
Anjhe Marcus tells FashionUnited how her experiences working in the fashion industry inspired her to start a business that promotes well-being and encouragement. Designing with a purpose, Lucas Hugh continues to deliver unparalleled products for the modern entrepreneurial woman with an active lifestyle. Here she shares her tips on how to succeed in the fashion business.
What are your 3 tips for success?
- Stay focused and don’t divert from your goal.
- Find a way to maintain a positive mindset. Try not to let negativity drag you down.
- Be open-minded, you’re not the best at everything. Find the right talent for your team.
As the co-CEO and creative director of Lucas Hugh, what does a workday look like?
Currently, I'm the co-CEO (along with my husband-Jason Marcus) and the Creative Director. Depending on the day, I’ll be planning a photo shoot, managing product development, fittings, branding, marketing, web development and even overseeing customer service. I’m definitely on the go and in a lot of meetings, but I always try to include fitness into my day. As a mother of two young children, the time I work-out now revolves around them. Since my youngest is only 1 year old, I’m running on lack of sleep so I come into the office early and use my lunch break for a workout. If I need to focus on a project, I may pop outside and work from the Soho House to refresh my environment.
What challenges do you face in the fashion business? How do you stay motivated?
Running a business, you’re constantly challenged on a daily basis and 50 percent of your job is to find solutions for the problems. So many obstacles happen every day, how to manage it personally is by staying internally positive and not let the negativity get you down. Sticking to a routine with exercising has helped me stay motivated. At Lucas Hugh, our values are being smart, considered and first. Internally we try to practice a positive solution-focused approach, whereby team members are accountable to providing solutions alongside problems.
How was Lucas Hugh founded, what inspired you?
After studying fashion design in New Zealand, I was a swimwear designer for about 15 years. After launching my own swimwear brand, I went to New York to work for Marc Jacobs and then for Alexander McQueen in London. I always had the desire to start my own business, but I wanted to develop a product that was necessary in the market. In 2007 I noticed that there wasn’t a product for women which combined high fashion prints and cuts with technical sportswear.
Because of my love of swimwear, I understood how to use technical fabrics and saw opportunity to adapt techniques – such as the bonded seam - that had been traditionally used in swimwear into activewear. However, because the product was so specialized, I spent 2 years researching and working on different prototypes before we launched the business in 2010. The name was inspired by both my British and New Zealand grandfathers, Lucas and Hugh, who were really into fitness and well-being. Originally from New Zealand, having an active lifestyle has been an important part of my daily routine since I was little. I felt a versatile product that could be worn from the gym to the boardroom was missing for women.
You used to design for your own swimwear brand and also worked for influential fashion design houses. How did these past experiences working in fashion influence you?
Coming from the fashion industry is an interesting experience and working for prominent fashion designers showed me how hierarchal and competitive the environment is. Not to mention the long hours, low pay and the feeling that you “must swim or you’ll drown.” This impression really informed me on how I’d want to set up my own business as an open, collaborative and encouraging environment despite your level within the company. Especially as an activewear brand, health and wellness are extremely important for us. You’ll find Lucas Hugh employees working out together as a team and taking breaks outside is encourage to reset and focus. We believe in being “fit in the body, fit in the mind.”
We believe in being “fit in the body, fit in the mind.”
Why did you decide to specialise in premium activewear for women?
To place an emphasis on the term premium, this was a conscious decision we made since the beginning. When you look at swimwear, there are different tiers and people would invest in a beautifully designed piece from a premium label. Within activewear, there was a gap in this category where a product was well designed and functional.
Inclusive exclusivity is an approach that we’ve found resonates with our customers. For example, our limited collections often fly off the shelves. Through consumer feedback we have learned that although women want to be unique and stand out from each other, they also want to be in the know and be the expert that shares quality products with their inner circle. The Lucas Hugh customer is not of a specific age group, but a woman who is decisive, knows what she wants and being active is part of her daily routine.
How is technology integrated into the production of Lucas Hugh designs?
Since day one, Lucas Hugh has been a European manufactured product so we’ve selected the best quality Italian fabrics which are moisture wicking, quick to dry and tend to have a high compression content so are very supportive and even help with muscle recovery. Designs we’ve built into our products feature details such as integrated key pockets and high visibility triangles. We’re known for using the fully bonded seam which is a laser cut heat seal originally designed for racing swimsuits and makes the garment more aerodynamic.
Our product development cycle is about 2 years. With our prototypes we’ll do different types of testing such as abrasion, wash and colour fade. Then we’ll do physical testing with various sports from yoga to running on the treadmill. Trainers in London will wear and test our products before they’re ready to hit the market.
Photos: courtesy of Lucas Hugh