It’s a brand new year, a brand new decade, so as a New Year’s Resolution here’s to keeping you all up to date with everything that’s happening here at Olivia Annabelle. To kick things off here’s a little interview I did with the lovely Tabie Ledesma in my hometown of Stockport. Enjoy x
Where do you see Olivia Annabelle in 5 years’ time?
Ideally, I’d like to see Olivia Annabelle have a big following of conscious fashion consumers who are invested in the brand. It would be an absolute dream if alongside being stocked online at Wolf & Badger, we could be stocked at some cute boutiques across the UK including places like Liberty London - my favourite shop! We’ve love to expand the brand so that we could create a wider range of pieces in every size!
What is your main goal that you want to achieve for Olivia Annabelle?
The main goal for Olivia Annabelle is to create beautiful clothes in a sustainable way, that people want to keep for a lifetime rather than just a few months. In a world of throwaway over-produced fast fashion we have made it our mission to improve the way we produce our collections and are striving for more sustainable production methods and materials. We are constantly working to achieve this by planning to source more natural fabrics for our future collections.
Looking at the collections that you’ve released in the past, where do you get the inspiration for the themes you’ve curated? For example, what was the idea behind “Little Women”?
When looking for themes and inspiration I usually start by looking at my extensive Pinterest board collection. Every time I find something that inspires me I try and create a board on Pinterest that I can then build a concept around. I currently have 115 boards on there at the moment! I take inspiration from the nostalgia of the past, local traditions and superstitions, with hours spent researching the history, novels, art and culture of each theme. For my first collection ‘Little Women’ I took inspiration from the Victorian novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. I also took inspiration from my trip to visit family in Long Island, New York where I did lots of research into this period of history - from daily history lessons with my Uncle, an American History teacher, to being introduced to folk art and old American antiquities by my Aunt and her friends I was starting to build up a concept in my head built around everything I had seen and learnt. I became interested, thanks my Aunt's lovely friend who had a collection of originals, in 'Fraktur' which is a folk art form practiced by Pennsylvania Germans principally from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, looking at the symbols within the art work and embroideries. I was also inspired by the 'Heart in Hand' symbol which is present in a lot of folk art. I love this period in American history and everything I had learnt from my trip so I needed a way to tie it all together - and what better way than the book 'Little Women' which encapsulates all these things - night’s spent around the fire hand- embroidering and cross-stitching hand-made dresses, writing poems and love letters. I then looked at some of the themes within the book, mainly family and love. From this I researched into 'Love Puzzles' from the era, which I took the heart emblem from in my prints, jewellery and scarves. All together I created my prints from a mixture of all the symbols I found associated with this time - with little printed cross stitches holding each print together in the 'Heartfelt Shaker Dress.'
There are so many fast-fashion companies at the moment and I really admire that you have decided to divert your brand in a different direction. How important is to you to create timeless and sustainable pieces?
I think it is so important nowadays for companies to think about their impact on the environment. I didn’t want to be another fast fashion company where I could sell hundreds of pieces dirt cheap for a quick profit. I want people to feel as though the pieces they’ve chosen to buy from me are special and worthwhile - they want to keep them for a long time. I’m trying to make my pieces as special as possible but also still affordable as I want people to feel that they can wear my pieces everyday and not just for special occasions. For me personally, after spending a lot of time carefully curating fabrics, designing prints and the shapes that all fit the chosen theme it would be a waste to create them in a cheap fashion - it’s nice for people to appreciate the time that has gone into the pieces.
Wolf & Badger picked up your line not so long ago. How does it feel to have a company want to stock your items and believe in your brand?
I was honestly shocked when Wolf & Badger took my brand on! I have followed them since I went to University so earlier on in the year I just decided to apply, I thought I had nothing to lose so might as well give it a go even though they have a big waiting list. A few days later I received an email from Wolf & Badger and I couldn’t even open it because I’d convinced myself they wouldn’t have accepted me and when I finally opened the email I was so overwhelmed! It was the best news to come at a time when I wasn’t certain in which direction my brand was heading.
There is definitely a sense of romanticism and femininity throughout your collections. What is the inspiration behind your designs?
I always like to keep my designs quite fluid and feminine. I’m always trying to look at my designs and how I can make them as wearable as possible - can they be worn for a dressy occasion but also can they be dressed down when needed? I like to keep an element of romanticism in my designs because I think it is a style that is timeless and can be paired with other current trends to keep it up to date.
The fashion market seems so saturated at times, especially with so many fast-fashion and luxury brands evolving. How do you make sure your brand stays relevant whilst being authentic to yourself?
This is something that I am constantly reviewing. Sometimes it can be hard to always keep up to date with the latest trends but also at the same time I’m conscious of not trying to chase trends entirely as they are just that - a trend! I like to design clothes so that they are timeless pieces that people can keep forever but I usually inject a tiny bit of a trend into a collection to keep the designs fresh. I put a lot of ‘myself’ into my designs so I guess that’s what keeps my designs authentic to myself and by designing all the prints for Olivia Annabelle in-house it means the designs are truly unique!