Founded in 2015, LOVI is on a mission to bring the thrill of sarongs to people around the world. Designed in San Francisco and made in Sri Lanka by a band of creative collaborators, LOVI crafts a collection of luxury active-wear sarongs for the modern age in a variety of fine, light weight fabrics with bold prints and timeless understated designs.
The Legend from the Founder
Q&A With Asanka de Mel, CEO
Who did you design this garment for?
LOVI is for someone bold, active, and authentic who seeks something beautifully made in an understated way. It’s for somebody who wants to explore life.
Where does the name LOVI come from?
It’s a beautiful fruit that we don’t have in the U.S. I wanted to use a simple word in my native language. The brand will go global, and this way we will always remember its roots. I also like how much the word “lovi” looks and sounds like “love.” It matched well with my romantic attachment to Ceylon and home.
You come from a technology background. So why fashion now?
I’ve always been into fashion, but it’s been more personal until now. You can’t exactly say that I’m not doing technology, after all the definition of tech is improvement in function, and that’s what I’m doing with the sarong. In many ways, this merges my two interests. And being an engineer did help me argue with those first people who told me “you can’t put a pocket in a sarong.”
How is the LOVI different from the common sarong?
Yes, it's US Patent Pending for the innovations we added.
Pockets: Considering how many people wear these things, in so many countries, it’s insane we don’t see them built with a pocket. But how do you put a pocket in a one-size-fits-all garment? It was an engineering challenge I was excited to figure out because everyone needs some place on your person to hold keys, cash, and a cell phone.
Belt & Loop: You know how every family has that auntie who pulls down your sarong at parties? In my family, that lady happens to be my mother. I was one of the many kids who wore shorts and belts with my sarong.
Lining: I decided to take it a step further and put in the lining. I wanted to make the sarong as thin as possible, but add the lining for privacy and to help with perspiration in these tropical climates.
Fabric: I found the sarongs commonly seen here were too heavy considering the climate. The sarong is perfect for warm climates, but I thought it could feel even cooler. So I have been experimenting with 100% cotton handloom in order to strike the balance between durability and lightness of fabric.
What’s the inspiration behind the collection and its designs?
The Rugby is inspired by vintage jerseys; it’s a sarong that could you could even play rugby in. The Print Collection has large prints that make a statement, inspired by palm trees and the bright elegance of the poppy. The Check is a twist on the traditional check pattern of the sarongs of yesteryear. The Tux is a sarong every man should have for formal occasions. The Little Black Sarong is a ladies go-to sarong; it’s the interpretation of the little black dress for date night or an evening out with friends.
What’s the biggest challenge with launching this product?
Since we’ve been wearing sarongs for centuries, and it’s a traditional garment, I needed to shake things up.
What will be your biggest reward if LOVI is a success?
It’s the perfect reason to spend more time in Sri Lanka. A successful business is just another reason to keep coming home.
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