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Olivia Welsh Interview: Sustainable Superwomen Series

This week on the Sustainable Superwomen Series, we hear from Olivia Welsh, Founder and Creative Director of Olivia Annabelle, a sustainable fashion brand specialising in limited edition high quality pieces to be treasured forever, with collections taking inspiration from nostalgic Britain. Read on to hear her thoughts on the future of sustainable fashion and how she's changed her buying habits for the better.

Hey Olivia! Tell us about your relationship with fashion

I have had an obsession with fashion since my early teenage years. I always knew I'd do something with fashion whether it was with historical costume or fashion design. I always look for clothes that are either vintage, or have that kind of flair to them. Also I like to find clothes that have a timeless style with a bit of an edge. If I wear jeans I’ll wear them with a Victorian style blouse, or long floaty dresses and skirts with trainers or tapestry cowboy boots. I’d say my style is similar to my designs because I love to wear feminine and romantic clothes. I’ve started to think about where I buy my clothes from and I’m trying to buy more second-hand or vintage/antique clothing. I’m also in love with antique jewellery - my favourite is a Victorian Mourning Brooch I bought recently from a vintage market.

What first sparked your interest in sustainability?

I remember first being interested in sustainability after a undertaking project at uni where we had to create a garment inspired by our hometown and I created a patchwork 1960s shift dress out of remnant materials that my grandma had given me. I also used old t-shirts to create a whole new piece inspired by Jimi Hendrix in my first year at uni too. By my second year at uni I was searching through vintage and charity shops for vintage fabrics to use for my collections and since then I've tried to actively make decisions that won't negatively affect our environment.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about sustainable fashion?

I'd say first of all look at your own buying habits. I know that I used to go out and buy lots of 'fast-fashion' and realised a few years ago, it's so hard to get rid of, it's hard to sell off and you only have to go into charity shops to see how much excess 'fast-fashion' we have. I think people sometimes confuse sustainable fashion with boring, beige and natural colours but it can be so much more than that - there's so much more awareness now of sustainable fashion and lots of magazines have collated brands into articles for your browsing pleasure!

What's the best life advice you’ve ever been given?

Follow your own mind - don't let others opinions influence you too much to the point you lose your personality within your designs.

What sustainable trends have you seen coming through?

I love how many designers are now using remnant fabrics and vintage materials to make clothes and accessories! There are so many I follow on instagram!

What do you think is currently missing in the world of sustainable fashion?

High-street sustainability! I find it really frustrating shopping on the high-street for sustainable pieces, but it is nice that you can support smaller brands that truly believe in sustainability and ethical practices!

Where do you see the future of fashion going?

It's really hard to tell right now, with what's happening at the moment - but I'd say there is definitely a sway towards people thinking about what they are buying now. And with more smaller brands opening up offering beautiful designs, limited edition pieces, not mass produced - there are so many more options now for people to explore. I also think there's so many more bloggers and influencers talking about shopping small and more locally so it is slowly helping to change buying habits among younger people too.

What tips do you have for someone looking to shop sustainably?

There are some great places to find sustainable brands - Wolf & Badger is a great website that's why I was so happy to be able to stock with them. Also vintage shopping is perfect for sustainable shopping, along with instagram where I find most sustainable brands to shop with.

Tell us the story behind your favourite item of clothing.

I found a 'new romantic' style blouse from the Vintage Emporium in Stockport which is a really simple draped design but I've had it for years and it goes with everything! 

Follow @oliviaannabelleapparel and shop the collections on www.oliviaannabelle.co.uk

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