Interview with fashion designer Tessa Lont, founder of LONTESSA

Lontessa is a fashion label from New Zealand-raised, Singapore-based designer.

Tessa Lont launched her brand in 2014. Deeply immersed in the rich tapestry of Maori culture and the wild, magic beauty of her native New Zealand, Lont takes her inspiration from the lore of her people and thoughtful engagement with the sustainability of materials and the elevated life cycles of her garments.

Lontessa is pleased to offer lines of Made-to-Order, Ready To Wear and Intimate Apparel.




When did you first realise you wanted to become a fashion designer?

Since I can remember. My Grandmother was a seamstress at Swandri when I was a child. She enjoyed making us clothes especially for special occasions. We had a lot of pattern books and I loved to draw, I would draw her things and she would make them for me. It was fun.

When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?

I never did an internship. I came out of Uni with an Industrial design degree and found it difficult for anyone to give me the time to learn properly. I learnt everything the hard way… Often failing! I did work for free for a fashion Magazine trying to sell ads. Considering how terrible I am on the phone, it was a disaster.

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

I went traveling after university, I found myself in doing industrial design work in Lisbon, It was packaging for cosmetics.

Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words .

Tiakitanga (Maori) and  ‘Respect for the Environment’

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

Listening to the the wrong people. I am really easy going and easily influenced it not hard for someone to steer me in the wrong direction. I have learnt to be a bit more assertive and stick to my ideas over the years.

What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?

How well they present the concepts. However I don’t always choose the models. I often work with what I get given.



What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

Its a confusing time, Online shopping is big, but there is also a lot of junk being advertised and sold. People are always looking for new experiences, I don’t really follow online influencers, my inspirations come from everyday life and my friends.

What is your favourite and NON-favourite part about being part of the fashion industry?

I don’t like how mass production and cheap fashion has made people loose value for all the hard work and skill put into their clothing and products.



How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?

I want people to feel they are representing their best selves.

Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?

I like to focus on the individual, everyone wants something different that represents their background or lifestyle. I enjoy learning to understand the need of others and I have the resources to create this items at my showroom.

News on the way regarding your next collection?

My runway collections often reflect my life or background, The next collection is for LFW in February, it is based on carved treasures found on our tribal land, understanding these lost aesthetics and the beauty of the curves.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?

I think its finding your place in this world of mass consumption.



There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?

My grandmother has always been my biggest inspiration, although she is busy and much older she always has time to help out where she can. 

How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?

I believe people in these industries are motivated by their craft, like anyone we need to feel appreciated and happy in our work.

How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?

We have enough clothes in this world now. We need to slow down with mass production. I think all companies should be responsible for all the items they produce that ends up trash. Be great if everyone went back to made to measure. Using dead-stock fabric, natural fibres, eco friendly fabrics only solves half of the problem if it is still mass produced.

Describe us you as a designer and how your feelings influence the creativity process?

I use my identity and my experiences to create without knowing I am doing it, but the inspiration behind my work has two anchors, my Maori values and my everyday life – I am always relating the two.



Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?

Absolutely, The concepts must compliment each other.

What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?

Co branding can be great, I am kinda doing it now where I am taking over a atelier, I am changing it from Ann Teoh (she has been a couturier in Singapore for 35 years) She has a legacy of clients who I would like to maintain, she is also teaching me a lot since I am relatively new in Singapore. Although her style and her concepts are different to my own, its interesting to find the same values in what we do.



How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?

Ultimately I want to make sure we are getting the right attention and our concepts are coming across correctly. I spend enough time already doing so much other things. 

What designers inspire you and why?

Christian Dior – His obsession with a type of classical beauty and flowers is always inspiring to me, also made it so his successors have done a clear job to reference his form and his values. 

I am fascinated by the transformations which happened over the 20th century. It was the era of new forms of fashion, the rise of fashion designers, every decade being very different.  

I also have a fascination with traditional indigenous garments. 

There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?

Anna Wintour, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Beyonce, Naomi Campbell

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?

I feel lucky that we can now target outside of our geographic location. 


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