Lana Condor On Dressing Up, Life After “To All The Boys,” And Her New Vera Bradley Collaboration

by Aaron Royce

You may know Lana Condor for her starring role in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” but now the optimistic actress is taking on a new role: designer. In her first fashion collaboration with Vera Bradley, Condor’s designed the Lana Utility Backpack for the brand’s new sustainable Recycled Cotton Collection, which also includes totes and crossbody bags we’re adding to our wishlists ASAP. We chatted with her over Zoom about the new collection, plus all things fashion, hosting the Costume Designers Guild Awards, and her newest acting projects.

Congratulations on your first fashion collaboration! How did you become involved with Vera Bradley?
All the women in my family are huge Vera Bradley fans. When I was younger, I remember always seeing my family toting around their beautiful, bright colored, fun bags, and I remember always wanting to be a part of that. And then, when I was 12 or 13, my mom gave me my first Vera Bradley bag to use as my ballet bag when I would go to class, and it felt like very much a right of passage because all of the women in my family had them. Since then, I’ve carried my love for Vera Bradley with me because it reminds me of my family, my mom, and really good memories. When this partnership came to be, I was shocked because it felt like a full-circle moment! I remember the first person I called was my mom, and she was so excited. Something that really attracted me to the whole partnership, besides just loving the brand for so long, is feeling like the brand has always wanted to bring brightness in the world, and spread positivity, and energy. It’s just good vibes in general!

The Recycled Cotton collection is Vera Bradley’s latest sustainable line. What does sustainability mean to you?
The recycled aspect is a huge part of my interests. I think the lines are now 50% recycled cotton, which is so exciting, and by 2025 Vera Bradley is updating all of its fabrics to more sustainable alternatives. That’s huge, and I think obviously—from what I know—we only have one Earth, this is our only place we can live! So we really need to step it up, you guys. We need to tighten up, and make sure that we protect our Earth, because this is our home. I think there’s many things that we can do to protect it and live a more sustainable lifestyle, and one of them is to buy consciously and buy products that you know are helping the Earth, not destroying it. That was important to me, and I’m hoping more and more brands will do it. And I see that, but I’m just excited for Vera Bradley and I’m excited that this is a new reality for the brand, because it’s awesome. And what’s cool is the line still has the same functionality, feel, practicality, and softness that you’re used to with conventional cotton. Now, it’s just recycled. So, you’ll realize that you’re not sacrificing anything when you buy sustainably, which is really exciting.

Lana Condor for Vera Bradley’s Recycled Cotton campaign (Vera Bradley/Courtesy)

This collection has so many fun bags! What are your favorite styles?
Well, my favorite style is the Lana Utility bag…she’s my baby! [Laughs]. She’s my favorite because I had the pleasure and honor of being able to design her, and I put a ton of thought into it. The new line has solids—it’s the first time Vera Bradley is offering cotton solids, which is so exciting, because they’re known for their colorful, energetic patterns. Now there’s really something for everyone, which I love, and is important when you’re supporting a brand—it needs to be inclusive. I went with solid black, because I think that it’s totally wearable and versatile. I wanted it to be a set bag, like a travel bag, but you can also use it as your gym bag, or as your hiking bag, or beach bag, or errand bag. I wanted it to be big enough to hold my scripts and my books, and various things I bring to set. It has the ballet print inside that reminds me of my childhood, and I dedicated it to my mom! I wanted it to be a brightly colored inside, because I find that bags that have a dark interior…I never can find my stuff, because it’s just a dark hole. You’ll never find your ChapStick—you just won’t. I have a deep paranoia that I’m going to be stolen from, so I really wanted my bag to have this guy [tightens drawstring], really zips it up tight—no one’s getting in there! I have these awesome, really chunky utility clasps that make it a little more functional. And then my side pockets, which are dedicated to my boyfriend, because Anthony [De La Torre] has a backpack that has side pockets. I feel like men always get the side pockets and women don’t get them, ’cause I always stuff all my stuff into his side pockets!

You obviously love fashion—who or what are your personal style inspirations?
It’s always been very important to me to highlight Asian designers, particularly now more than ever. I’ve been deeply obsessed with Prabal Gurung. He’s my person…I just think everything’s incredible. I was hosting the Costume Designers Guild Awards, and I wore one of his pieces. What a revelation, to go from sweatpants to a moment of structured costume. I really feel this season, I just want to go big. We just spent a year wearing sweats, so now I’m ready to hit carpets, hit appearances, and just go big or go home! I really want to just dress up. I’m very into blazers and oversized, big coats. I will say I love Hailey Bieber’s street style. I think that her style is spot-on. I love that she can pair really cool, business chic things together.

Lana Condor for Vera Bradley’s Recycled Cotton campaign (Vera Bradley/Courtesy)

Summer’s also around the corner! What trends are you most looking forward to wearing?
Did you read the article about the cloud shoes? I’m looking forward to that. I’m ready! Listen, I just thought that was hilarious. But I’m excited about cloud shoes because I’ve worn them, they’re really comfortable, and I’m very much a comfort-first kind of gal. So, psyched about slides, cloud shoes—I think that’s my biggest thing.

Let’s talk about red carpet style. What are some of your favorite red carpet memories, and why?
I mean, my biggest one would be [the] Met. That tops everything, always, forever. It was just so large, and so fantastical, and I felt like the Sugar Plum Fairy in the best way possible—I loved every moment of it. For a movie called Alita: Battle Angel, for the premiere, I wore this really cool Balmain structured skintight, beautiful silhouette, that had this dragon across it. It was very Asian, and I loved it. I loved my last To All the Boys premiere gown; I wore this really beaded, feathery gown, with this clear corset bustier moment that was on the outside. I would never wear that just walking around, but I thought, why not just go big for this moment?

 

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You recently hosted the Costume Designers Guild Awards, and looked amazing in Christian Siriano and Prabal Gurung! What was that experience like for you, and how did you and your stylist come up with those looks?
When I was going to my stylist’s studio, I was so excited because I knew we were going to see some really incredible pieces. I was already imagining all of these stunning, more costume vibes. It was just so much fun! Half the rack were Asian designers, and then half the rack were other designers that we loved. It was really important for us to highlight an Asian designer during that show, and we wanted to show some skin. I feel like it’s been a year of hoodies, so I really wanted to have some lace, show some skin, have a moment. I think this year has been a very big mental health year, and our bodies have gone through so much intensity. I think, as people are going back to work and going back to life in general, you can feel uncomfortable in your body because we’ve just been cuddled up for so long. I just wanted to wear something that made me feel proud of my body, that made me feel proud of who I am. We loved it! We loved the moment.

 

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Of course, we have to talk about To All The Boys! It’s the end of an era, but you have some new projects like Boo, Bitch in the works. What can you tell us about the show, and what are you most looking forward to in the future?
I’m very excited about Boo, Bitch! It’s a show that I’m producing and starring in, so it’s my first producing credit and first producing experience. It’s been quite the learning experience, and I’ve been loving it. I think I’m most proud of our writers room, and the women behind the camera. It’s a very diverse writers room, and very diverse behind and in front of the camera, which was important for me. It’s going to be a comedy, it’s going to be hilarious—well, I hope it’s going to be hilarious! And I loved the paranormal aspect of it. I’m getting ready to shoot Moonshot, which is a film that I’m doing in Atlanta with Cole [Sprouse]. That’ll be a sci-fi rom-com, which I’m excited about because I love space. And a couple other things, but I’m just excited to go back to set because I’ve really been working on To All the Boys for the past three years, so this is kind of refreshing.
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