Back in May, London boutique Browns Fashion re-launched Browns Focus, its talent incubator originally set up in 1997 to nurture and support the next generation of fashion talent. Rounding up a group of Britain’s brightest men’s and womenswear designers, each budding brand was tasked to create a special capsule collection to be sold exclusively through the store. Bianca Saunders showcased her signature, youthful tailoring, Saul Nash produced ace, performance-driven sportswear and Connor Ives continued his exploration of modern Americana through upcycled designs. Then there was Marie Lueder, the Hamburg-born designer tackling mental health issues with her eponymous label, Lueder.

Describing her designs as “mental armour”, Lueder develops garments equipped to help the wearer navigate the difficult times we live in. Through the brand, tailoring meets sportswear to evoke a design lexicon that feels both empowering and protective. “I was dating an ex-partner for nearly 10 years who was very suicidal at the end of our relationship,” says Lueder. “I was not conscious that I create this armour, but the more he fell sick, the more I created this functionality for his mind through the garment. He was for sure my biggest muse and biggest inspiration that led to this direction.”

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, with a background in tailoring, Lueder’s desire for design was passed down from her mother. “She always made me beautiful dresses for my birthday,” she says. Throughout her childhood, she would attend an annual summer camp. “Each year, you had to research and develop new outfits for yourself to wear for this one week. I think that’s stayed in my work, this idea of developing characters.”

Going on to undergo a three-year tailoring internship straight after high school, before studying fashion design in her home city, it wasn’t until Lueder began her MA in menswear at the RCA in 2016 when she truly began to define her practice. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an artist or a designer, but after studying at RCA, they teach how you can incorporate all this design thinking into a product and that it doesn’t always need to tell a happy story.” Through her work, Lueder embraces vulnerability. “If everyone suffers from mental health problems, why shouldn’t we make an open dialogue about it and then embrace it?”

Having already shown at London Fashion Week’s Discovery Lab three times since 2018, Lueder’s Browns capsule feels like a real step-up for her brand. Produced entirely in London, the collection is driven by Lueder’s sustainable ethos.

Upcycled jersey t-shirts are spliced together in swirled formations; envisioned to “empower this struggling, spiraling generation”, says the designer. Trousers are a strong point, whether it be deconstructed rave jeans or streamlined nylon trackies made from recycled ocean plastic. The look is completed with an ivory, split-sleeved cowboy shirt and an iridescent anorak inspired by the hues of a mood ring – “just a funny reminder to yourself to remember how you feel”.

Working alongside artist George Jasper Stone, the pair digitally rendered London poet James Massiah inside a virtual realm for the collection’s official film. As one look morphs into another on the CGI Massiah, he appears both strong and protected.

Charging forward, Lueder hopes to expand her practice. For a large chunk of the year, she’s been remotely creative directing an emerging band out in Hawaii and is working on a collection that will be shown at London Fashion Week in the not-so-distant future. “I want to blend these two works and collaborate with as many people as possible,” she says.

Photography courtesy of Lueder. 

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