Lucas Hugh burst onto the scene in 2010, shaking up the way we view sportswear. Now designer and founder, Anjhe Mules, takes the time to sit down with us and talk us through what gave her the inspiration to launch a more 'fashion' focussed sportswear line and why print in fitness gear was such a new concept.
With the confidence of Net-a-Porter behind it, the brand quickly flourished into one of the most stylish and covetable fitness labels on the market. Find out how it all began, and what the future has in store Lucas Hugh here...
Tell us about how the brand was conceived initially...
I was designing swimwear for 15 years before I launched Lucas Hugh. It felt like a very natural progression to move into activewear – working with similar fabrics and body-forming fits.
I have always been a very active person and really felt there was something missing from the market when I started working on the brand in 2007.
The idea for Lucas Hugh came when I was on holiday and I got locked out of my hotel room after working out at the gym. I had to go to the reception to get a new key in my gym clothes and thought; why is there no beautiful, technical activewear you can walk around in and still feel smart.
"We manufacture all of our products in Europe at one of the most technically advanced sportswear factories in the world – they are one of the key producers of a lot of the Olympic swimwear and athletic apparel."
So that's how you landed on sports/fitness wear as the next organic step...
Yes, I am really a bit obsessed with functional technology. Coming from New Zealand, sport and fitness has always been part of my life. I love the idea of building garments for a purpose, and it is very challenging and rewarding having to understand all of the different functions of fabrics and construction techniques.
Can you explain the significance of the name? Where did Lucas Hugh come from?
Lucas Hugh is named after my two grandfathers. Lucas – my New Zealand grandfather was really into fitness, and my British grandfather was a thinker. To me they represent mind and body.
Talk us through the fabrics and the design process...
All Lucas Hugh pieces are cut to support and streamline the physique, enhancing the wearer's performance and ease of movement. We also use a lot of tailoring techniques, for example in our structured jackets, to shape and flatter the figure.
In terms of the technical design side, the fabrics we use are UV-protective, breathable and antibacterial and moisture wicking. The majority of Lucas Hugh garments are produced using sealed-seam technology, which has been proven to be more resilient than traditional construction methods and gives the garment a clean and seamless look. Structured ventilation panels, iPod holders with headset eyelets, light-reflective high visibility detailing, internal support and concealed pockets are also typical – and practical – features.
We manufacture all of our products in Europe at one of the most technically advanced sportswear factories in the world – they are one of the key producers of a lot of the Olympic swimwear and athletic apparel.
Who would you most love to see in Lucas Hugh?
Alicia Vikander and Ruby Rose.
What is coming up next that Lucas Hugh fans can get excited about? Any new collaborations or collections to look out for?
Our Spring/Summer 16 collection is launching in December. It's called 'Electric Feel' and features electro hues of orange, violet and azure blue. The print was sketched in 1902 'Spark' but has a very futuristic look, which sits well with the Lucas Hugh spirit.
How many collections do you produce each year? Do you see that increasing in time?
We produce two fashion collections every year and our core collection of leggings, bras, and tanks are consistently available through out the year. We intend to deliver smaller collections and exclusives part way through selected stores in 2017 including caps, bags and hopefully sneakers.
What do you think about the current trend and thirst for fitness?
I think it's a really exciting time. When Lucas Hugh launched in 2010, the concept of wearing technical leggings through the day or on The Tube was unheard of. Now in London this has really changed, people are proud to be seen in activewear and to talk about what fitness classes they do.
I also believe 'fit in the body fit in the mind', and it's empowering for everyone to feel that rush of fitness.
Who inspires you?
Syd Mead, he's a futuristic artist.
What's the best advice you have ever received?
Follow your instincts and take the risk.
Fitness is clearly important to you. How do you stay fit and healthy?
I care a lot about what I eat. It directly effects my energy levels. My husband and I are both gluten and dairy free – because he can not tolerate it, and I have found it has really improved my health also.
I have always enjoyed exercise and try to work out most mornings for 3o minutes to an hour. I mix up my exercise from running in Hyde Park, resistance classes at Equinox, personal training with Dalton Wong, or reformer Pilates classes with Heartcore, some days I just lift weights and do matt exercises at home or go for a walk in the park.
Anything exciting happening in the fitness world that we should know?
There are new things happening in fitness every day. In London. Here are my top picks for new openings in London:
–Core Collective offers pay-as-you-go classes – it's right near beautiful Holland Park, which gives some zen after a high intensity class.
–Rebel 1 has amazing classes with a really good café called Roots and Bulbs for healthy meals and snacks post workout.
–I love Detox Kitchen on Kingly Street, they have really beautiful salads.
–The South Kensington Club is a beautiful private members club with very private gym and class timetable.
–I also love Gym Class, which is led by ex Barry's Bootcamp trainer: Halle Hammonds. It's a new boutique fitness studio with high intensity classes for a full body work out, in Holland Park.
Plus of course WholeFoods on Kensington High Street for everything you need to eat well...
"I also believe 'fit in the body fit in the mind', and it's empowering for everyone to feel that rush of fitness."
You are stocked by eCommerce leader Net-a-Porter, what do you think they saw in Lucas Hugh? What differentiates you from other fitness brands?
Net-a-Porter was the first stockist to pick up Lucas Hugh when we launched in 2010. They took a risk because we were really the first brand to incorporate prints and tailoring into sportswear and to be more 'fashion'. They have been amazingly supportive to us as a brand, and have really grown our offering when they launched Net-a-Sporter last year to include a lot of our core continuity products.
Where can we find Lucas Hugh designs in the Middle East?
We are stocked at Boutique 1 and Bloomingdales in Dubai and Harvey Nichols in Kuwait.
What are your favourite fitness Instagram accounts to follow?