Lady of Lesjour – Phoebe Tonkin

India Hendrikse

It’s probably been a long while since many of us found a reason to wear a bra. Or jeans. Or, god forbid, heels. But think back to the ‘before time’, as I like to call it, the pre-pandemic period. Remember the sudden discomfort of walking in the door, and suddenly feeling your bra get tighter? Your jeans started to ache and itch, and your breasts felt trapped inside what must have been a cage. You’d idly wonder how you got through the day with these torturous inventions clinging to your skin, before swiftly slipping into comfy, albeit saggy, joggers and a pilled old t-shirt. But in a Covid-19 world, there’s only so many days your same old sweatpants can be hidden out of frame in your mid-morning zoom call.

So, enter Phoebe Tonkin and her brand Lesjour, launched in the infamous year of 2020 and just in time to get us out of our baggy sweats.

The Australian-born actor, known widely for her work on The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff series The Originals, was accustomed to an outrageously busy schedule pre-pandemic. The Chanel ambassador’s car was constantly filled with multiple looks to take her from hectic shoot days to meetings and evening events. But suddenly, she, along with most of the world, was stuck at home, trying to find the happy medium between ultimate comfort and effortless style.
When I speak to Tonkin via Zoom (of course), she’s make-up free and clad in crimson Lesjour, chatting to me from her Los Angeles home. Explaining the origins of the brand, she says she’s the sort of person who just has to be busy, which is why her quota for relaxedly reading and TV binging was hit rather fast when stay-at-home orders came into force. Lesjour had been in the works for a while, but 31-year-old Tonkin was finally able to invest her energy into it last year when acting projects were temporarily put on hold and boredom beckoned. 
The first collection, consisting of six key styles, was a snazzy, glammed-up take on the 1970s Leisure Suit; think a fire engine red cardigan with matching flares, and a high neck, shimmery cream crew with coordinating soft, tapered bottoms. It’s intentionally simple, as Tonkin wants customers to have the option of adding their own vibe to the looks. “I love the idea of projecting your personal style onto clothes that you buy,” she says. “As opposed to buying clothes where they wear you. I’ve always liked the idea of simple things, like t-shirts, sweats and sweatshirts, then projecting onto them with jewellery or makeup or a cool hairstyle, or personal things you’ve collected over your lifetime.” The just-launched second collection is a similar vein, with comfy leisure suits cut in myriad luxurious tones, such as a deep moss-green.
Lesjour’s name is a playful take on the word ‘leisure’, and Tonkin says she’s reimagined what the noun and concept means, personally adopting a busy kind of relaxation, active time-out. “I’m not someone who likes to sit on a beach for 10 days and do nothing,” she says. “My idea of leisure time is very fast-paced and doing a lot of stuff. We wanted to play on what people’s interpretation of what leisure even is,” she says. That means comfort is key, and the brand has played directly with the trend of biz-leisure – one that sees business attire blend with the leisurely moods of fuss-free and low-key.
But although Lesjour’s entirely on-trend aesthetically, Tonkin is considered in what she produces. Comfort remains paramount, but so does sustainability and timeless chic. Everything is made in downtown Los Angeles and the fabrics are sourced with the environment in mind. “I wanted to make sure that if I was starting a brand, I was using really innovative fabrics and minimising the footprint I had on the world because we already have a plethora of excess,” she tells me. “Why would you bring something into the world in 2020/2021 that wasn’t environmentally conscious and aware?” she asks. Lesjour actions this ethos by using Lenzing™ Ecovero™ – a sustainable alternative to viscose, with up to 50% less of an impact on emissions and water.
But before you think Tonkin’s swapped out her acting career for fashion design, she assures me that first and foremost, she’s an actress, and the two passions – performing and designing – can coexist. “I love acting more than anything,” she says. “But in this day and age, there’s no reason why we just have to do one thing. This is another creative outlet that I’m passionate about.”
You can shop Lesjour! right here.