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My Fashion Life - Flavia Young

The founder of womenswear etailer Luxe-layers.com likes to try before she buys

With over 20 years’ experience in retail, Flavia Young spotted a gap in the market for an etailer specialising in understated yet luxurious everyday womenswear. In 2014, she launched Luxe-layers.com, stocking brands including contemporary label Tibi and Mother jeans. As the site’s sole buyer and stylist, her elegant personal style is the driving force behind the business.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

I grew up in Rio de Janeiro. My mother owned two boutiques there, which were the place to shop in the 1960s and 1970s. When I wasn’t at school I was with her, meeting customers or working in the stock room. Then at 21 I moved to South Africa and opened my own boutique in Johannesburg, selling high-end clothing by Brazilian designers.

How has your previous experience fed into Luxe-layers.com?

I’ve worked in retail my whole life, but my experience before Luxe-layers.com had always been in bricks and mortar. I moved to London in 2007, right when the economic crisis hit. High street stores were closing because they couldn’t compete with online. I held off launching Luxe-layers.com for a while as I wasn’t prepared to invest at such a risky time, but by last year I was ready and 100% sure that an online business was my best option.

What is the concept behind Luxe-layers.com?

From my own shopping experience I felt I could easily find statement designer pieces on sites like Net-a-Porter and Matchesfashion.com, but it was much harder to find something luxurious yet casual and suitable for everyday wear. I wanted to offer a small, cohesive edit of pieces that all fit into the same understated style.

Brazilian style is seen as very colourful and bold, but your offering is quite muted and sophisticated. Does your heritage come through in the buy?

It’s true that Brazilians are quite flamboyant, so I guess I’m an exception to that. I suppose it’s my personal taste, but there’s also the fact that I left Brazil at such a young age. When I visit Rio on holiday I don’t really feel Brazilian any more. I do like to buy colour and print, but I always make sure it’s not too loud.

What do you look for when picking brands for the site?

I try to find emerging talent that isn’t stocked by every other online retailer, including Hong Kong-based casualwear brand Edit, leather label VSP Paris and Brazilian labels Animale, Ateen and Lucidez. It’s so gratifying to discover a new designer that my clients love. The showrooms and agencies must hate me because I try on every piece in a collection before I order – I have to be sure everything fits well, is well made and feels good against the skin. I look for brands that fit my vision of luxurious casualwear, so fit and fabrication are extremely important.

What are your favourite brands at Luxe-layers.com?

The brands are like my children, it’s impossible to choose a favourite because I love them all. I do love Iro, a wonderful French range [retailing from £157 for a linen-blend top to £765 for a leather jacket]. I love 10 Crosby Derek Lam [the US designer’s diffusion line, from £190 for a cotton sweatshirt to £560 for a cotton and leather dress]. Tibi [from £168 for a crêpe de chine camisole to £460 for a silk skirt] had a fabulous show at New York Fashion Week and I’ve just finalised my autumn 15 order, which I can’t wait to receive.

Do you prefer autumn/winter or spring/summer collections?

I think in summer people look better and in winter they look more elegant, but I personally love summer dressing. People seem happier in summer – it’s not just a cliché that how you feel on the inside shines through.

What’s the best piece of fashion advice you’ve received?

That you need to dress for your lifestyle, age and body shape. You can’t try to wear things that are trendy but that don’t suit you. For instance this season culottes are everywhere, but I’m 5ft 2in and would look ridiculous in culottes – I wouldn’t dream of trying to wear them.

Who is your style inspiration?

[US socialite and model] Olivia Palermo looks stylish in almost everything she wears. If I had a lovely figure like Olivia I would dress just like her.

What has been your worst fashion faux pas?

There were too many to mention during the 1980s but I’d say my mullet hairstyle has to be the worst. A lot of people had it of course, but I have wavy hair, so you can imagine how bad it looked.

What’s on your shopping list for spring 15?

I’ll definitely be looking out for anything in tan suede to tie into the 1970s revival. I’m also looking for a little white dress – I buy a new one every year – and I love a pair of espadrilles for summer.

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