Working as a fashion designer in the UK for many years for other companies, Amy Conlon is now backing herself with her ethical accessories brand Outliv. We asked her about how the brand came to be and why being socially responsible is so important to her.
Interview Carolyn Enting
When did you launch your label, Outliv?
Outliv was launched on the 1st March 2018.
What is the story behind the name Outliv, and why did you choose it?
I originally had a completely different name for my brand which I loved and was completely rolling with. During the brand’s development stage, last year, I spent some time in Melbourne during the Spring Fashion Week and attended the documentary ‘Dressmaker’ about Yohji Yamamoto. I loved seeing his back story and how much passion he had for creating. Yohji and his team spend more time designing the inside of the garment than the outside as they want their clothes to last longer than they do. I loved the romanticism of this and knew that I had to change the name of my brand from that point. By using recycled clothing to make my ethical bags my intension was also that these fabrics that were destined for landfill had more life in them. We believe that fabric should out live us all and not be so easily disregarded and disposed of…. Outliv was born.
What is your brand purpose/mission statement?
At Outliv, we believe that fabric should out live us all and not be so easily disregarded and disposed of. We believe in making beautiful product from fabrics that have been forgotten and are near being disposed of but still have so much life left in them.
The conventional way of producing new denim and leather fabrics is so polluting and this toxic waste often gets flushed back into the rivers, seas and oceans of our planet. By focusing on using recycled denim and leather fabrics we are so proud to in no way be contributing to this.
We also believe that it is important to be socially responsible which is why we source all our fabrics from hospice and charity stores and then donate a percentage of our profit to an environmental organisation. Design out waste beautifully and have fun doing it.
Where you did grow up? And how do you think that informed your path and where you are today?
I grew up in Rotorua until I was about six at which point my family moved to Auckland. When I was young I also spent a lot of time with my grandparents on their farm just out of Auckland. Growing up in a small town and spending time on my grandparents farm I believe this helped to develop my creative personality.
At the farm I got to see how my grandmother ran the house and it was really engrained in me from an early age that almost everything could be recycled somehow living by the mantra ‘waste not want not’.
Growing up this stayed with me and my love for second-hand and vintage shopping developed as a young teenager when I used to spend weekends with my friends visiting local thrift stores with the excitement of what gems I might find.
After moving back to NZ after living and working in London as a fashion designer, it was so valuable for me to have the time to reflect on my career and where it was headed. I spent a lot of time developing my brand idea to become what it is today. Choosing to create a brand ethically just felt right for me and even now you will find me in my ‘happy place’ in a second hand store.
If you had to describe your point of difference, what would that be?
Outliv’s main point of difference is that each and every bag is made from recycled clothing and this means that each item is unique with no two ever being the same.
Outliv is also donating a percentage of its profits to Sea Cleaners which work to remove rubbish from the Waitemata, Manukau and Northland harbours. There is an ethical and eco-conscious movement taking shape … Outliv want to be a positive part of this.
How would you describe your brand aesthetic?
Modern, lusciously slouchy and with a rock’n’roll retro twist.
What fabrics do you love working with most, and why?
Our focus is on genuine leather and quality denim fabrics. These fabrics have beautiful colour and texture, they have historically stood the test of time throughout many cultures and generations and they get better with age. We also love having fun with the linings by choosing vibrant and retro patterns.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of the Good Sustainable Style Show at NZ Fashion Week?
Ethical and Sustainable fashion awareness and the importance of being a conscious consumer is growing. It is important to connect and collaborate and work together towards creating a fashion industry that respects human rights and values our environment. There is no planet b. I am looking forward to connecting with these amazing ethical brands and showcasing together with the ambition for a broader reach nationally and internationally to inspire positive change.
When you were invited to take part in the show, what made you say yes?
I was so extremely excited for Outliv to be asked to be part of the Good Sustainable Style Show. It’s so important to get behind a more conscious consumer lifestyle and I love that Good magazine is supporting this by getting behind New Zealand’s ethical fashion scene.
It is my intention to be able to showcase Outliv during Fashion Week here and/or aboard annually, so what better opportunity to be able to have Outliv’s first fashion week in New Zealand where it is created and hand crafted.
What will you be showing on the runway?
Due to our design model each of Outliv’s bags are unique. A lot of the design is influenced by the fabrics that we can source. Outliv loves rock’n’roll and retro vibes. We are really excited to showcase our spring/ summer product range, ‘Atomic & Floss’ at Fashion Week. A juxtaposition in texture.
What is your hope for the future of fashion?
Fashion Saves The World.