Lazy Oaf


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
12 Sunday 12th August 2012

First of all, what's your personal role with Lazy Oaf? I heard [founder and illustrator] Gemma Shiel started it out as a stall before Lazy Oaf became a store.

Yeah, Gemma started it all on her own about ten years ago, then expanded her stall into a shop about six years ago. I didn't come in until they reached out looking for someone to do PR and Marketing, so I joined as an intern and am still here three and a half years later!

The brand is really versatile, even though it's got a very distinct 'look'. What do you think attracts people to Lazy Oaf?

I think people who are quite expressive and creative with the way they dress tend to gravitate towards us. It seems like there's a small amount of a few types of people who wear our stuff, which can include everyone from those who appreciate the design side of it to those who have that knack of expressing their individuality from a statement piece in an outfit. Anyone who's nostalgic for the 90s from the prints and shapes also makes sense.

What makes pieces in each collection stand out for you personally?

The diversity of the shapes is getting really interesting. When we first started out, it was all t-shirts but now the cuts are so diverse that the pieces can be worn in so many different ways. The great thing about the pieces is they easily become the main focal point in an outfit, so work well to pull the whole look together. It just makes it easy to throw other things on too [she giggles]!

The sense of humour and cultural references Gemma makes in the designs appeal to my personal taste, and hopefully to those of people who enjoy the brand.

It's true, there's often a nice level of punnery or wordplay going on in the more visual designs.

Yeah, there's often a nice hidden pun in there!

What's your proudest moment for the brand so far?

Last year our tenth anniversary was a great one, because it was not only so fun but a true celebration of the brand. We've been getting some good press recently too, from people like Jessie J wearing our pieces. Of course when we saw James Franco will be wearing one of our shirts in a film coming out we got excited: ladies just love him and guys want to be him don't they? Gemma getting a spread in Stylist magazine was great too, and we had such good support come in from our friends and fans about that.

How does your production and sourcing work, in terms of ethics and your price point?

Jerry: Well I don't work on that so much, but [wholesale manager] Paul knows a bit about it.

Paul: Since our minimums are so small, we don't go to big factories which are more likely to have shifty labour protection in place. We adhere to a lot of the European guidelines since we also produce a lot of our stuff on the continent, so the UK Fashion and Trade Council regulate labour rights in the factories we use.

Jerry: We're not mass-produced and really don't stand for just trying to get things done for as cheap a price as possible. Our customer knows our price point and they expect the quality to match. Since Gemma does 75% or more of the design on all of the pieces, our customers know we set a high standard for our printing quality.

Finally, how'd you get Viktor Vauthier involved with the lookbook shoots?

I kept seeing these amazing photoshoots online and a friend suggested we check him out, basically. Before then we'd just been doing product shots against a white wall at Gemma's [she laughs] but his work is high fashion and always maintains an element of fun. He's great at directing the models and building a relationship with them in a way that comes through so well in the final product. He's just good at what he does, and now he's our staple photographer!

So what’s next for the brand over the next few months?

Well, we’ve recently released the Batman collection and then we’re launching autumn/winter for both men and women hopefully later this month. We’ve got loads of new shapes for both A/W and the new capsule collection – and we’ve gone a bit goth! [she laughs].

Check out the limited edition Batman line on the Lazy Oaf site now, and shop the rest of their men’s and women’s collections too.

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