One rarely gets tired of the beauty of Gastown. It’s atmosphere, people, and community are the essence of the neighbourhood. Simply walking around this scene puts a smile on my face.
My name is Mikaela Genio and I am currently a Marketing Communications Intern at the Gastown Business Improvement Society. Since I’ve started, I’ve learned that Gastown is a very unexpected place. You can never guess who you’ll meet or where you will end up. In fact, just this week, I was walking along Powell Street and stumbled upon the lululemon lab. Walking up through the wide open glass doors, I could definitely feel the inviting atmosphere.
I had the opportunity to chat with Gastown local Raffaele Megaro, Manager at the lab, to discuss what occurs behind the scenes in the lab.
Raffaele Megaro – Lab Manager
How would you describe lululemon lab’s genre of style?
For the longest time, lululemon lab was associated with athletic style. It was targeted to reflect a unique local perspective related to Vancouver’s style, but is now transitioning to aim towards an international viewpoint. Our style has developed tremendously. We have been using aesthetic, print, and unique fabrication designs. Our designs are not cohesive. Lululemon lab “serves as a hyper-local conceptual design and retail space within lululemon and an incubator for design innovation and functional product experimentation beyond active wear”.
Photo by Mario Szabo
Tell us about the clothing design process before it goes “public”?
It starts with the design team’s ideation. This is where the design team bounces ideas and opinions off each other. Within the space, everyone is always giving respectful feedback on the designs and we are always talking.
Our space is very open. Unlike most design studios, at lululemon there is no separation between retail and design. We are very inclusive. We don’t keep our designs a secret. Once a design has been approved, it is sent to our retailer and organically put out on the floor.
How long is the process from ideation to production ?
It depends on the product itself. It can be from around 6 weeks to 2 months. The lab is made up of four spaces; the design team, pattern makers, pattern cutters and seamstresses.
Step-by-step process to create an item:
- Design team’s ideation
- Electronically distributed to the pattern makers
- Pattern goes through a processor machine
- Multiple different fabric is chosen from our manufacturer
- Pattern cutters cut the design
- Seamstress then sews it together
- Goes out on the floor
Photo by Mario Szabo
What community events is lululemon lab involved with in the neighbourhood?
We always try to find ways where we can help out and contribute in the community. We love to give back, which is why we have been working with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre for the past 6 months. Last December, we created a fundraising event and sold bags made from our etailer team to raise money for them. We also contribute clothes to Goodwill. We just moved into the Gastown space last August and we hope to create a positive impact in the community through what we love to do.
As Manager of lululemon lab, where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from the people around me, people coming through our doors, and just being here in Gastown. I love how this city is not just a finance city or an artistic city, it’s a young and growing city that connects between so many things. I believe there is beauty in everything.
What is the most surprising thing about your job?
The most surprising thing about my job is the amount of love I get every day from the people around me. I have really talented people who work with me, from the design team to the retail team, and I am always stunned on how ideas are generated through the minds of my team. I manage around 8 people, but they’re not just my employees, they’re my family.
What do you love about working in Gastown? Any favourite food places?
I love that I can go get a coffee at my favourite coffee shop and they are my friends. I love that I can walk outside our door, go to an amazing restaurant, and know the bartender’s name. I always feel a sense of community and family around Gastown. There are so many artists and creators in the neighbourhood that love what they do, who are passionate and have a very strong voice, which is what I love the most.
As for food, there are so many great places in Gastown to eat at, but one of my favourite places would be Birds and Beets; I go there every day, so you’ll see me there a lot.