Local Style: Brigitte Sharp, Lou
Interview by Brittani Lepley
Photography by Alexandra Valenti
Lou is relatively new – what was your career path prior to designing?
My background is in fashion apparel & accessories product development and production. Prior to creating Lou, I spent 8 years working in-house for fashion brands in NYC. After moving to Austin with my husband 3 years ago, I decided to start a consulting business since I thought it would allow me to keep doing something I loved while also have more flexibility with my schedule. Working with smaller, independent brands gave me a fresh outlook on the industry and inspired me to consider creating something on my own. However, it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my daughter, that I was able to harness the courage and motivation to take the risk.
What was your main inspiration when designing your first collection?
I designed the first two styles to fill a void that I found in the market. I was inspired by real, dynamic women who are confidant in their own skin and own their unique sense of style. Women who want to look polished and fashion forward, but also lead active lifestyles. My priority when designing is to focus on quality and comfort from the first wear, without succumbing to fleeting trends. I also continually find inspiration through art and photography. Collection 01 was greatly inspired by the work of Eduardo Chillida, Pierre Soulages, and Peter Lindbergh.
Any plans for a second collection?
Yes, I am planning on introducing some new styles this next spring. A sandal is definitely at the top of my list.
What has been the most exciting moment thus far for your brand?
The most exciting and surprising moment, thus far, was when Gigi Hadid was photographed wearing a pair of white Simone boots, twice. I’m not someone that gets that excited about celebrities, but given the fact that she has access to wearing any designer she pleases, it was an honor that she chose Lou.
Tell me a little bit about your creative space:
Right now, I office from home, but after years of working in an office environment, I like being surrounded by the energy of other people. So, if I don’t have to be home physically working with the product, I prefer to be out and about. That being said, I am very particular about the environment I surround myself with (I blame the Libra in me.) I prefer serene, uncluttered spaces, and I lean towards a minimal aesthetic.
What sets Lou apart from other footwear brands?
First and foremost, Lou is a luxury quality brand that is solely produced in the US, which is unique in today’s market place. Coming from a product background, it was extremely important for me to support the local American artisans and craftspeople, so I chose to manufacture Lou’s footwear at a family-run factory in Los Angeles, CA. Our leather is sourced from Italy from suppliers that adhere to sustainable practices. Aesthetically, Lou experiments with the dichotomy between masculine and feminine. I pull inspiration from traditional menswear and give it a feminine twist. The brand’s name, Lou, is a nickname derived from Louise, which is the middle name of both my daughter and I.
You’re originally from the Midwest. How do you deal with Texas summers? What is go-to thing as a family?
Being a Chicagoan, I’m used to extreme seasons, but the length of the summers here definitely took me by surprise! Having a young child makes it even more difficult. We try to get outside and be active in the morning before the heat really sets in. As a family, we love to go on walks or cool off at Deep Eddy.
You have impeccable taste. Where does your style come from? How has it evolved since moving to Texas?
Thank you! I think my sense of style stems from multiple places. As a young kid, I remember flipping through my mom’s fashion magazines and being totally enthralled by the glamour of it all (this was the heyday of the early 90s super model). My sister was also into fashion, and being almost 5 years older than me, she was my idol when I was growing up. However, my biggest style influence was my late grandmother. My grandmother was German and had a very European sense of dressing. She was always put together and took a lot of care into how she presented herself. Yet, she was never overdone and really valued quality over quantity. I think that has really translated into Lou.
Brigitte wears No. 6 Jumpsuit, Zimmermann Dress and Acne Studios Suit. All footwear is by Lou.