It's hard to believe that it's been two decades since Gemma Shiel, founder of Lazy Oaf, printed her first designs from her garage in north London, ready to sell at her local market. Since then, her brand has survived many firsts, fails and triumphs to become a much-respected fixture in British fashion.
To mark its 20th birthday, Lazy Oaf is launching a 38-piece collection that takes us on a trip down memory lane, paying homage to the history of the brand and many of its most iconic designs. It'll be released in three weekly drops, starting from today. "We trawled through our archives and picked out some of our most-loved prints and designs from over the years," says Gemma. "We also wanted to make it feel extra special by elevating the design and fabrication, like using a custom made faux fur for the Never Picked Furry Coat, and giving our iconic cloud print a birthday update with fabric woven with metallic threads in the Silver Linings Brocade Dress."
The range also includes designs taken directly from the past such as the So Tired Long Sleeve t-shirt and the Cereal Shirt Dress from 2014, as well as alternations of pieces like the Sandwich Unisex Pants that was originally a jacket back in 2013, and the resurgence of a 2011 bear in the Many Bears Knit Jumper.
It's a phenomenal feat and an enormous display of resilience from a company that has survived a few disasters since its founding in 2001, including warehouse fires, floods, a global economic crash, and, oh yes, a pandemic that put life on hold for a couple of years. "Getting Oaf to 20 is an incredible achievement and I am proud of our team and incredible community for their unwavering support and love," adds Gemma. "We have some battle scars and many stories to tell."
Gemma admits she loved working on the birthday collection and delving deep into past collections: "I was both cringing over and falling back in love with some pieces that I had forgotten about," she admits. "As well as running the Oaf ship, my first love and passion is design and creativity and am excited to take our design ideas from the past and re-invent and re-introduce them to all of our incredible supporters as well as the new people that might be just discovering us."