I Tried "Workleisure" And I'll Never Look Back

May 3, 2023

Back when I got my first “career” job, I wore heels and tight, stiff clothes every day. I thought that is what all femme folks did in professional settings. When COVID-19 forced everyone to isolate in place, I worked from home wearing athleisure. And I never really got over my love of comfy clothing. My 10Tree sweats and Patagonia hoodies make me incredibly happy, thank you very much. So, I was pleased when I moved and started work in a clinical setting where scrubs permanently replaced my heels and skinny jeans.

But I recently secured a new job that is not in a clinical setting. For days I considered how to satisfy my need for comfortable clothing that looks both chic and professional.

Enter LEZE the Label.

Pronounced “LEH-ZAY,” apparently a play on the word “lazy” that implies “fancy.” Not sure about you all, but “lazy” and “fancy” are two of my favorite things.

And technically, that is what my current sustainable clothes are. Some of my friends and family members raise their eyebrows when I admit that my sweats cost $88 or my secondhand Patagonia coats range from $100–200. “Fancy,” right?

The thing is, these are investment pieces. I have worn these items for years and they still look fantastic. Comfortable, cozy, cute, great for city wandering, outdoorsy days, or cuddling up with a book. what more can I ask for?

Well, professional clothing that functions the same.

And that is what LEZE the Label has crafted. The Canadian brand was borne by Taiwanese founders Tanya and Karen Lee who grew sick of paying for expensive workwear that left them uncomfortable all day. They thought, why not make recycled workwear that looks polished but feels like pjs?

a woman wearing oversized and elegant white top and white pants.

Athena + Kendal set in Bone from LEZE

LEZE is disrupting the sustainable fashion industry by using recycled fish nets and beech trees to make presentable work wear that moves with us while we get things done. And the sets! Unsure about you all, but I find putting together outfits exhausting. Especially when we’re doing so five times a week and worry about wearing statement pieces too often. The ability to throw on a set and just choose shoes is life-changing.

For me, it has created more space to focus on other aspects of my appearance. My last partner always bought me jewelry, which I kept but never wore. Because why add another step to getting ready each day when I am already emotionally drained from choosing an outfit?! However, the reemergence of matching sets has lessened my decision fatigue. I find the above set really comes together with a necklace, mani-pedi, and vegan Birkenstocks. Or combat boots. Or cute sneakers. Or even heels, if that is your thing.

As for ethical manufacturing, LEZE the Label products are made by Tobimax Textiles, a Taiwanese-Canadian family who has been crafting clothing since 1988. LEZE espouses paying 15% above industry standards and investing in the well-being of people. (This all sounds good in theory, but isn’t the industry standard pretty abhorrent?) Employees get 45 minutes per day for lunch and 45 minutes “for a nap.” The brand also states “with every hour of overtime that they choose to work, they get paid half a day’s pay.” Again, this sounds like the standard pay may be very low.

Indeed, I remain cautious when trying new brands. But I couldn’t find a third-party audit of LEZE the Label’s labor practices (yet) so I gave them a try. And assuming no undercover expose surfaces that belies LEZE the Label’s claims, I will likely continue to shop from them. Because I need more sets!

The Pine color will be gorgeous for the cooler months.

a woman with bangs wearing a green blouse and matching pants.

Athena + Kendal set in Pine from LEZE.

Clothes are made in small batches to ensure sustainability, so I’m currently awaiting an email notification to alert me when this set is back in stock in my size. But there are sale items; you can buy a pair of pants and fashion it with whatever you like (I love my Girlfriend Collective compressive bodysuit with the Kendal pant) and you can even “try before you buy” in the U.S. Just pay shipping and choose 3 items to try risk free. After ten days, ship back what you don’t want or keep it all and your card is automatically charged. But you’re going to want to keep each buttery soft item you try, I promise!

As for prices, purchasing sets save you about 15%. The Athena + Kendal set is $183 USD, with each single piece ranging from $86-$126 USD. I am hopeful that these items last me years, just like my Patagonia and 10Tree pieces have. All that to say, I think the price is worth it! Of course, it is up to us to care for them correctly. Use a guppy bag when washing and always lay flat to dry.

Workleisure is making my life better and I can’t wait to grow my capsule collection to continue simplifying my mornings.

What do you think, will you give LEZE the Label a try?

Also by R. Coker: I Tried Will’s Vegan Store, The Cult-Favorite U.K. Brand

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Photo: LEZE The Label


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