Creating fashion with purpose — that’s been Ciara’s mission since the beginning at The House of LR&C, the company she cofounded with her husband, NFL star Russell Wilson, and Lululemon alum Christine M. Day.
“Our acronyms are the house of love, respect and care,” said the one-name, Grammy award-winning entertainer and entrepreneur.
“We want to pour love, respect and care into every part of the process,” she continued, over Zoom. “I think as we all can see, the world is ever-evolving, ever-changing, and there are also so many things that are creating challenges economically, environmentally. I think the greatest thing for us is, we want to be able to impact through it all. If we’re not doing that then we’re not doing our job at the house.”
Three percent of net revenue from The House of LR&C goes to the Why Not You Foundation, the celebrity couple’s nonprofit dedicated to children’s health and education.
“It’s been an over million-dollar contribution,” said Day, The House of LR&C’s chief executive officer. “It’s a big commitment for us as a company, to be able to support the communities and initiatives and transform lives for those less advantaged.”
Launched in 2020, The House of LR&C consists of a men’s apparel line, Good Man Brand (introduced by Wilson in 2016) and a Gen Z-inspired label, Human Nation. Now, the fashion company — headquartered in Seattle with a team of 22 full-time employees — presents its first women’s collection as part of a new brand, LITA, which is out today.
“This is a lifelong dream,” Ciara said of releasing women’s. “I was saying to someone the other week about why I was launching another [brand], and I was just saying how I have a bucket list of things, my entrepreneurial bucket list, and I would say that this is one of those things that I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ve always loved fashion growing up. I’ve always been a fan of fashion. It’s a big part of how I express myself in my everyday movements, but also on the red carpet, on the stages, doing photo shoots. It’s a way that I communicate, a big way that I communicate. And so, it was just a matter of time before the opportunity presented itself.”
Like the other two lines, LITA — which stands for “love is the answer” — will be available direct-to-consumer on thehouseoflrc.com, as well as online and in select store locations at Nordstrom.
“Nordstrom is a great partner with a very evolved and loyal customer base that is the heart of that 18- to 35-year-old woman in particular,” explained Day. “And they have ability to have high reach from the beginning, which helps us acquire customers for our own d-to-c. And, obviously, we’ve designed some product that will be exclusive to our own direct-to-consumer channel.”
LITA is launching with 160 items, of which 150 will be sold at the department store chain.
“For a first-time company, I would say that’s very successful,” Day said of the partnership. “And so, it also helps us get to our minimum buys, manage our gross margin. There’s a lot of other business reasons to do it, too.”
The team has upcoming marketing events planned with Nordstrom, including staff and customer styling sessions with Ciara herself.
“It’s really a great opportunity to build awareness for the brand,” added Day.
“I also will say, I mean Nordstrom is at this point now family to us,” chimed in Ciara. “It’s been a great blessing to have the team at Nordstrom and to have had the success we’ve had thus far, starting with Good Man Brand. I have to proudly say that Good Man Brand is the number-one men’s brand at Nordstrom. We take pride in that.”
The goal with LITA, priced between $68 to $895, is to provide accessible luxury and “conscious creation” — with the philanthropic element of The House of LR&C and sustainability in mind by limiting the environmental footprint when producing.
“We often say, ‘You don’t have to sacrifice fashion to be sustainable,’” said Ciara. “And that’s a foundational pillar that we stand on. We really believe in that. Like, why can’t you look really fly or be fashionable while also be creatively conscious? Why not?”
“We really tried to work with factories that specialized in small production runs but very high quality — given the size of starting the brand and where we are today,” said Day. “So, we use a lot of factories in Italy for instance for the shoes, but also Croatia, Albania. And then we use factories in India, in L.A…We didn’t do a lot of product out of China, because of some of the container shortages. So, one of the advantages that we’re going to have in the pandemic is we’re going to have our product. Because of the expertise of the team, we were really the only ones who delivered Good Man Brand, for example, on time to Nordstrom in full.”
They look to third parties, such as the United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Goals” to set their standards, explained Day: “It’s looking at the biggest impact on the planet, your fabric technologies, and then looking at the lifecycle of different fabrics and the impact that they have, from creation of the fabric through the manufacturing process, who you pick as partners. It all matters. So, what we’ve really focused on is using things like recycled cashmeres and polys.”
The collection is also made using organic cotton, recycled nylon and completely compostable packaging. At least 70 percent of the entire collection uses materials with a lower environmental impact, said Day.
Inspired by the black king cheetah (for its “rarity” and “beauty”), LITA’s launch for fall features neutrals and animal prints, faux fur jersey, knits, coats, dresses, hoodies, joggers and accessories — particularly boots. It’s a mix of “tomboy” and “sexy” styles, according to Ciara, and must-haves for any wardrobe (the inspiration for the designs began in her own closet).
“They can dress up, dress down, whatever it may be,” said the 35-year-old mom of three. “That’s the ultimate goal here, to be a one-stop shop for all your fashion needs.”
There’s a white space that they’re filling in the industry, said Day, by offering goods that use quality fabrics and materials, yet are sold 30 percent cheaper than competitors in the modern women’s apparel category.
“We really can create scaled change through those accessible price points,” she said.
The House of LR&C aims to be “a billion-dollar company,” she added.
“The question is just, when do you get there, right?” Day continued. “So, we want to have a level of impact in the marketplace where we transform the marketplace, where we raise the bar for all the players on the transparency and the impact, from product creation to the communities. And then having accessible price points. I would really love to put a dent in fast fashion. I think the product waste that we have there — and people buy it for two reasons, it’s fashion and it’s cheap. Well, at a slightly higher price, you can have high fashion with impact, but long lasting. And I think when you look at the more sustainable marketplaces, it’s either very highly priced or it’s very low fashion…There’s no reason you can’t have both with what we know in the marketplace today.”
For Ciara, the muse of the brand (with a following of 28.9 million on Instagram alone), the endeavor has felt empowering, particularly as she works to spread her impact beyond the music industry.
“I’m so excited,” she said of the launch, gleefully. “I can get a little emotional, because I think about like, wow, that little girl with this dream…You know, when you first start out, you’re a young girl with the big vision, big dreams, and it’s like, ‘OK, I hope to have some of these kinds of awards one day. I hope to kind of sell this many records.’ All of these cool things that I think are great to dream of. But then when you get the opportunity to do those cool things, you start to really put into perspective why. And then you also start to factor in how blessed you are to be one of the few people that have the opportunity to have big platforms, out of the billions of people in the world. There has to be something more to this than just, you know, getting glammed up — which I do love the process of and performing on stages, which is amazing — but there’s this incredible opportunity that comes along with that, and that is being able to impact. That is being able to make a difference. And to be honest, the mission to impact is now at the top of my list.”
What’s been the biggest learning lesson so far?
“It gets really technical,” she said with a laugh. “On the backend side of it, whether it’s budgets you have to be really mindful of — and I’m very familiar with budgets. That’s not a new thing for me. But again, there’s just like a whole working of how all this goes behind the scenes, and it’s a lot to take in. But I’m learning so much. I’m really enjoying the process.”
Taking a pause, she continued: “I’m also enjoying the opportunity to be empowered as an entrepreneur through it all. Yes, there’s a creative side of my brain that I get to exercise, which is what I really love, obviously, being an artist and that being a big part of how I communicate. You know, I communicate through creativity. What I like about the challenge of learning the backend of it all is I think it’s going to only make me better at what I’m doing, even creatively…I’ll definitely learn a lot more as we put this baby out. Because you don’t know until you do it. It is like putting out an album, but in this case, it’s a fashion brand. So, I’m curious and excited though, super excited.”