Helene Ravlich - Laing Sleepwear

I fell in love with Laing Sleepwear first because of their beautifully styled and curated Instagram account, and next for the quote that opens their About Us section on their website: “Laing Sleepwear is for women who don’t want to look like Barbie dolls, Disney characters, sex kittens or great aunt Mabel.”

After spending the cooler months snuggled up in some of their classic cotton pyjama sets I was keen to meet the woman behind the label, Anna Murray (pictured left). I finally got to chat with the ex-marketing and advertising executive over coffee at The Shelter, and we immediately bonded over a love of sleep and beautiful sleepwear.

“I work hard and really embrace my rituals at home,” she tells me, “so I have always liked finding beautiful things to sleep in, which is harder than it sounds!” Her search lead her to websites like Net -a-Porter and Farfetch, “where the sleepwear and loungewear is just amazing but so expensive.

I thought ‘I can do that’, and I know enough about it because I sleep all the time and have looked into what kind of fabrics make for a more comfortable bedtime. It seemed like a given.”

Anna worked on the label for a full year before it was launched, and her impeccable attention to detail shows in each and every beautiful piece in the collection. French-seamed for the perfect finish, piped, pleated and tailored, the garments have been created as flattering classics to be loved for years, not a season. They are an investment in a stylish night’s sleep whether at home or travelling, and Anna encourages fans of the brand to “create a sleepwear wardrobe so you can mix and match favourite pieces dependent on the time of year, mood or if you are travelling through different seasons.

” Think the softest cashmere t-shirts and bed socks to wear with pyjama pants, cotton striped singlets and tees with boxers, coupled with the knowledge that your skin is breathing beautifully throughout the night. “It’s about choosing quality for ethical reasons too," says Anna, “as in, not buying pyjamas that are going to be thrown away after a season and end up in landfill. Ours are designed to be loved and worn for a long time.”

Her biggest bricks and mortar stockist is Tessuti on the corner of Albany Road and Jervois Road in Herne Bay, and she counts owner and manager Ali McIntosh as a major supporter of the brand. “Ali has just been amazing to me from day one,” says Anna, who officially launched her brand in November 2016. “She welcomed me in and has given me invaluable advice, and has even been the perfect sounding board when it comes to new products and colours. Tessuti really deserves its place as an iconic shopping destination not just in Ponsonby and Herne Bay, but in the whole of Auckland.” Laing is also stocked at the Alex & Corban stores in Mount Eden, Orakei and Birkenhead and, as of this season, Smith & Caughey’s department store.

New Laing for spring and summer includes the most beautiful silk crepe de chine pieces in the form of a nightgown, sleep tee and boxer shorts, but in reality, most of the collection can be worn year-round due to the quality of the fabric. Silk for instance, is an all climate fabric, being warm in winter and cool in summer.

Quality silk will absorb perspiration while letting your skin breathe, making it perfect for sleeping in, “and if you’re someone who wears a silk nightie to bed you’ll wear it all year round,” says Anna. She describes herself with a laugh as an “untidy sleeper who moves all over the place,” which necessitates a decent sleeve all year round as she couples that with a need for open windows. Her best-selling Frank pyjamas sell all year round, “as they are made using long staple, fine 80s cotton that will keep you warm in winter as well as cool in summer.”

In her old advertising life she worked with clients that included Hallensteins and Glassons, the latter of which she first encountered when they were a “South Island-only store selling Guernsey jumpers and leggings and not much else." Over 14 years she helped the brand develop into the fast fashion retail powerhouse it is today, and in the process learnt a lot about branding and building a loyal audience within the fashion sector.

She also gained valuable knowledge watching her mother’s career trajectory as she worked setting up New Zealand’s first interior design wholesale company. “In advertising I was always at the end of the chain,” says the super stylish brunette, “always taking someone else’s ideas and then deciding how to sell it. That was fabulous and challenging, but I really wanted to take something of my own from inception to the world, and October 2015 seemed the perfect time to start.”

Anna says that Laing is the end result of combining her love of marketing, love of sourcing and “most importantly, my love of sleep” and taking it to the next level, and I for one could not be happier. After all, we spend nearly 87% of our lives indoors and 50% of that sleeping. Let's do it in style! (HELENE RAVLICH)