November 01, 2023 4 min read
Sarah-Jane Duff is the creator of womenswear label Lost and Led Astray (LaLA). Her garments are proudly made in New Zealand and she has a foundation range that is made in Bali. In addition to her clothing label, Sarah-Jane founded Fat Yoga in 2017, and runs fat positive yoga classes in Auckland and online.
We caught up with Sarah-Jane to find out what’s been happening with her brand since we last spoke, and to discuss conscious fashion consumption and misconceptions about plus size fashion.
It’s been a little while since we last spoke to you – how has Lost and Led Astray evolved over the last four years and what has stayed the same?
Wow, time flies – a lot has happened and changed. Three years ago I opened the LaLA HQ store/studio at 482 Karangahape Road, which has been a huge and rather scary leap. In saying that, it has been really wonderful to have my own space to create and to be able to meet so many LaLA-wearing babes. I’ve also created my foundation range, which is made in Bali. I had so much fun going to Bali, hooning around on my scooter sourcing fabrics! I also stayed with my friend at the factory when I was last there, which I think is pretty special.
My political views on championing the fat body are still the same!
Are there any misconceptions you’ve encountered about plus size fashion so far?
I think within the plus size community, there is a lot of misconception on how easy it is to create clothing for the fat body. It’s actually a lot harder, because of the diversity of our bodies, and we need to stop feeling inferior about that. It is okay, we are more unique, let’s own it!
I’ve also noticed the reluctance for people to spend money on themselves, as they want to wait until they change their body. The psychology around the ‘inferiority’ of fat bodies and the constant desire to make them smaller actually inhibits the change the plus-size community wants to see within fashion. I do believe there is a feeling of not being good enough, so spending on oneself is really hard.
For some of us, I think growing up not being able to go shopping is a big part of not spending money on ourselves. It’s not something we were able to experience. There’s also the placement of plus size ranges in stores – hidden in the back, in a dark corner – that doesn’t make us want to go to a shop and spend money. It’s humiliating and the discrimination of us being an afterthought is actually not good enough.
One of the changes since we last spoke, is that you’ve opened your shop on K Rd – congratulations! I know you’ve also hosted a number of events for the plus size community there. Tell us about the importance of making and having these safe spaces for the fat community, and what that means to you?
Corny as hell, but I believe I was put on this earth to be part of the change that is the acceptance of the fat body. I’m here to take up space and provide a space for the fat community to feel accepted, free and cared for. It’s very important to me, it is what I live for. Equity and diversity.
What do you think we should all be doing as individuals to consume fashion more responsibly?
Consume less, buy quality and see value in who makes things and how they are made. When you hear facts like on average garments are only worn seven times, it is really hard to think the way we are consuming is okay at all.
There has been an increasing awareness from consumers and the industry about the issues around creating products ethically and sustainably. What factors do you take into account when you personally shop from brands?
I do my research, the internet is a wonderful tool and makes us more accountable. I believe the conscious consumer is the future, and research is the key – research beyond marketing. The bright lights of social media can make us believe a brand is good, but things like a ‘no animal testing range’, does that mean the rest of the shop is tested on animals?
I believe that as an individual consumer my money speaks.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to?
Learn to live with the stress. It is a funny one, but I have anxiety and depression, and when you run your own business you have a lot of stress, every day, all day long. It used to worry me, I would stress about stress. But now I just check in with myself, make sure I rest and use the stress to motivate my day and get things done. I own the fact that I can’t control everything.
Where can we find you when you’re not working and how do you relax?
I relax in nature. I grew up in the countryside, which is vastly different from my Karangahape Road home, so I need fresh air and nature to truly be grounded. I love to hug a tree.
Meagan Kerr also writes at This is Meagan Kerr.
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