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Check Out Laurie Berger & Tiger Curran’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laurie Berger & Tiger Curran.

Hi Laurie and Tiger, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Laurie: Tiger and I met way back during our first year at UCLA and have always been great creative partners! We launched Laurel Canyon Tennis Club in Spring 2021 upon both lamenting that we couldn’t find any cool tennis clothes in our style. The counterculture has not yet arrived in the preppy country club world of tennis whites and we decided to use our design and illustration skills to start the revolution!

Tiger: I started learning to play tennis during the pandemic, when the gyms, yoga, and dance studios I would frequent all closed (shoutout to John at Riverside Tennis in Griffith Park for endless patience during my first lesson!). I’m a costume designer for film and television, so dressing for the sport was always part of the fun. As I became more and more obsessed with tennis, I needed more tennis outfits to inspire and feed my passion – but there was nothing out there besides super technical (think Nike/Adidas) or super traditional (Lacoste/tennis whites).

Laurie, who has played tennis since she was young, expressed similar desires for fun tennis apparel with more personality. When we couldn’t find anything to buy, we realized we would have to be the ones to create clothing that fit our dream tennis lifestyle. The idea for Laurel Canyon Tennis Club and psychedelic activewear was born. We both love bohemian LA culture of the 60s and 70s, and we had collaborated before in music (with producer Yeti Beats), so we knew we were capable of great creative mind-melding. I had the knowledge of fabrics, fit, and patternmaking from costume design, and Laurie, an artist and graphic designer, could create beautiful custom prints and logos for the brand.

We started super small, only making a limited first run of styles in one print and one size. We called for help from good friends to model in exchange for orange wine from Lou wine shop in Los Feliz and snacks from Erewhon. My boyfriend, Carlo Alberto Orecchia, has taken our brilliant photos for the website and promotions, and I’m so grateful for his artistry and expertise. We celebrate successful photoshoots with dinner at Pace in Laurel Canyon.

As soon as we launched, we had a ton of support from friends, family, and the tennis community. LA has so many awesome tennis groups like LVBL, TENNFIT, Racquet Club LA, Tenez, and the Racket Doctor tennis shop in Atwater Village. We are also so grateful for support early on from Racquet Magazine, the coolest tastemaker print publication about tennis.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Tiger: Starting off, we knew we wanted to be an eco-friendly brand because we know how harmful fast fashion is to the environment. We wanted to be made in LA to lower our carbon footprint and only use recycled polyester in the fabric so we weren’t contributing to an ever growing plastic waste problem. It is so hard to compete price-wise with huge brands that create thousands of pieces per style in China when we are making small batches with the pricier recycled fabric. After a ton of searching, we found a great fabric printer and manufacturer right in LA, but as we are dreaming up new styles to add to our collection, we realize how few eco-friendly options there are. Hopefully, more eco-friendly fabric options will be produced as demand continues to grow for them!

Laurie: We also knew we wanted to produce locally in order to ensure ethical, transparent, high-quality production. Besides the environment, another dark side of fashion is the inhumane reality of factory workers. There’s an excellent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that everyone should watch. We love partnering directly with the talented and experienced Los Angeles-based craftspeople who not only cut and sew our garments but also print our fabric, construct our apparel pattern, grade our sizes, etc. In addition to the ethics, local manufacturing also creates meaningful in-person relationships with our partners and also allows us to be a lot more involved and hands-on with every detail.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Laurie: I’m an artist and brand designer, and am so proud of our prints! I spent about two months on each print, drawing all the details and perfecting the colors. I’m used to freelance work, and with Laurel Canyon Tennis Club, I love that we get to be our own clients, so I’m not afraid to really go down the rabbit hole with every detail because we get to decide when it’s perfect and done. It’s my art form, and we’re locally printing it on this soft, high-quality recycled fabric and locally sewing it into these beautiful silhouettes in order to create something really special and daring and unique in the industry. It’s really exciting to hear peoples’ reactions to the prints and to know my art is making people happy and feel good about themselves.

Tiger: With my background in costume design, I have fit literally thousands of actors of all ages, shapes and sizes. I like to think that gives me some understanding of how clothes fit and what looks good. With our newest style, the skort, I went through seven revisions of the pattern before declaring it perfect. I see some brands whose clothes look super cute online, but when you actually try them on, the fit looks strange on anyone but a size zero model. With Laurel Canyon Tennis Club, we are super meticulous about the fit and your experience wearing it. It’s got to look and feel great on and off the court. The fabric is durable in the wash (I’ve been wearing the same tennis dress every week for a year and a half and it’s still in great shape). Our customers say they get tons of compliments everywhere from the Vermont Canyon Tennis courts to Maru coffee for their pick me up after a game to twerking in a handstand at a club in Vegas (moisture-wicking fabric is important on the dance floor too!)

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
Tiger:
Any time you break with the status quo, there is a risk your idea could be totally rejected. There are still a lot of tennis clubs that require all-white outfits and people who conform to that traditional aesthetic. It was a pretty wild and risky idea for Laurel Canyon Tennis Club to create such psychedelic, colorful, and subversive patterns for tennis. We did start small, and we want to be smart about our decisions. Since we are still self-funded, all the risk will fall on us if a style gets zero traction.

Laurie: Being self-funded, we produce our garments in small batches, which costs us a bit more per item but also helps limit the risk involved. We are definitely risk takers, and sometimes I can’t believe that we not only started a business but one so niche, haha – probably not what they’d recommend in business school. But we are creative and when you start to collectively envision what could be, you really want to make it happen! And we are!

Pricing:

  • Recycled Wrap Dress $178
  • Recycled Tennis Skort (new!) $122
  • Recycled Biker Shorts $108
  • Recycled Unisexy Shorts $98
  • Recycled Sports Bra $98

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Carlo Alberto Orecchia www.carloalbertoorecchia.com

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