Monday, February 26, 2024

Julia LoVan: Fashion with a Passion for Justice

October 4, 2010  
Filed under Profiles / Interviews

Text by Annie Suh | Runway photos by Alicia Olivares —

A foretaste of what’s to come by the good-intentioned, talented and emerging Laotian-American designer.

runway models

Arriving a few hours early at The Think Farm design studio in Silver Lake, I was met with a full house—hair/makeup artists working on models, photographers snapping photos, the setup crew and Julia LoVan making the last-minute rounds before the private fashion show geared toward potential investors. This was serious business.

And it was, considering LoVan’s big vision. After a year of living among the urban poor in Atlanta, being a youth mentor and working more than six years with impoverished communities, LoVan developed a strong passion for the urban poor.

Juxtapose her design talent with a passion for economic justice and she’s got this up her sleeve: LoVan plans to use her company as a vehicle to create sustainable jobs in the local community for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity. It’s a model like the Homeboy Industries. She also seeks to partner with companies and organizations focused on humanitarian efforts.

Julia LoVan’s fashion experience peaked when she was a design intern at Zandra Rhodes, a well-regarded fashion designer in London. Then in 2008, after participating in the first Hope in the City Fashion Show, the response was so positive she decided to create her own line that stands for:  “Simplicity. Compassion. Beauty.”

LoVan appeared on the cover of California Apparel News in 2009 when her collection was chosen to be featured on the Project Ethos Show in Hollywood.

models and designerHere’s more of Julia in her own words:

CM: Who or what inspires you?

JL: Nature because of its rich colors. I saw a deep purple flower today when I was walking down Melrose and noticed that it was the same color as this purple Ungaro dress I love. Crazy couture and avant-garde fashion because it’s art that you can cull from to filter into ready-to-wear. I pore over this kind of fashion for hours, and then start to develop ideas.

CM: Pet peeves?

JL: Wastefulness. I’m really Earth-friendly.

CM: How do you describe your fashion style? Does it reflect the clothes you make?

JL: My personal fashion style is pretty classic and pulled-together. I love ethnic shirts paired with skinny jeans and heels or boots. Pencil skirts with a sweater and fun scarf, or a pretty dress with chunky shoes.

It does reflect what I make now. I’m making a lot of tunics and basic skirts in either an eye-catching print or with detail. Tunics are great for every body type because they’re so blousy. The one I’m making now is optionally belted at the waist.

strapless chartreuse dressCM: What style of men’s clothing do you plan to make?

JL: I would definitely design classic pieces that last. Men love that. I just made a classic men’s cardigan that looked great on the model. I would like to make Banana Republic-type clothing that is timeless but also updated and fresh. Nice leather bags, sturdy classic-cut leather or canvas jackets, and nice-fitting sports jackets.

CM: What are your four passions in life?

JL: Kids, food, fashion, Jesus.

CM: What makes you happy?

JL: I get really excited over magazines—lots of different types in addition to fashion ones. I love In-N-Out, going to the beach and lying there for hours and hours. And of course, good friends.

CM: What did you want to be as a kid?

JL: I remember this clearly. I wanted to be an Olympic hurdler because I loved jumping over chairs, and Gail Devers was short so I figured I could do it too. That’s why I never drank or smoked because of my Olympic dreams. Well, I made it to college track but then lost interest. I also remember wanting to be a professional cheerleader, then a CPA.

dress by lovanCM: Do you have any life advice for readers?

JL: Be aware of people around you. I constantly have great stories from interactions with strangers, so I feel sorry for people who just keep to themselves in public. You can’t waste those moments, to bless others.

CM: Favorite stores, food, or hangout spots?

JL: Almost anything locally owned like Cafecito Organico, Common Thread sewing studio, Tacos Delta on Sunset…I love all farmers markets especially the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sundays. Oh, I also dig Bottega Louie in downtown.

CM: One fashion tip for guys. One for girls.

JL: Nice-fitting T-shirt—sweatshop-free, of course, jeans and a few nice pairs of trousers and shirts from Apolis Activism and call it a day. Oh, and a nice suit. Gotta have a nice suit.

For girls, modesty should be “in” always. I think a lot of times people just dress less because they don’t know how to dress attractively without showing so much skin. That’s part of my mission now—some of my dresses you can just throw on, and look instantly cute to a party or babysitting.

To find out more about Julia, visit her website at

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