BlackMilk founder dies: Fashion designer James Lillis dies on overseas holiday

The founder of an iconic 2010s fashion brand has died suddenly while on holidays overseas.

The team behind Blackmilk have paid tribute to founder James Lillis after he died from injuries sustained while travelling overseas on Thursday.

“We have some deeply personal news to deliver from the BlackMilk team,” a senior staff member read from a statement while surrounded by dozens of team members sitting on Mr Lillis’ office couch on Friday night.

“Our founder James, or as some of you know, JL, had an accident while on holiday.”

“He managed to hold on until his wife Linda, their two daughters and his best friend arrived to be by his side, but he succumbed to his injuries and passed away peacefully.”

The exact circumstances surrounding Mr Lillis’ death are not known.

BlackMilk was founded in 2009 and was considered a fashion staple in the wardrobes of noughties teenagers and young women.

The brand was well known for its graphic nylon leggings featuring galaxy prints and pop culture references.

The staff member said the team was “shocked and grieving” and would need a moment to process and support each other.

They asked for loved ones to share memories and photos of Mr Lillis to help “celebrate his life together”.

“BlackMilk is his legacy so also share your stories around what BlackMilk and this community means to you, and in doing so, help us celebrate the life of a true visionary and brilliant entrepreneur,” they said.

Former team member Jas Rawlinson said Mr Lillis would leave behind a legacy “far bigger than anything he could have imagined”.

“My heart is heavy for his family and loved ones, but I wanted to share some magic from the years to honour him, and to celebrate the women that he brought into my life,” she said in a post to Facebook on Saturday.

She said the BlackMilk founder once lived off a diet of mangoes because he wanted to save his money to “buy scraps of nylon fabric to create quirky leggings and outfits”.

Friend Jenn Post said she wished she had “better words to express the deep and extreme loss” of such an incredible person.

“Because of him and his nylon empire I have had some of the most incredible once in a lifetime experiences and forged lifelong friendships with my soulmate sister Sharkies,” she said in a Facebook post.

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