Olaf Designs Studio‘s Christina Lombardi is just about to release another beautiful piece – the Tamarind Dress in Ivory Linen. I took the opportunity to test run the dress and chat with Christina about what she does, how she does it and why.
What was your inspiration for starting your brand?
I started my brand because I couldn’t find the clothing I wanted to wear in the shops, made of natural vegan fabrics and ethically produced. I believe in the confidence building power of a wardrobe full of flattering, timeless pieces, and I wanted to create a collection of seasonless garments that work on any body type, at any age. I create clothing that is classic, airy, and doesn’t include any fussy details. I was frustrated by the lack of transparency in the fashion industry also, and eager to contribute to the slow fashion movement to allow more women to feel good both inside and out about the clothing they buy and wear.
What concerns do you have with the traditional fashion industry?
A big concern for me with the conventional fashion industry is that clothing is viewed as extremely disposable – it is made cheaply, out of fabrics that don’t last, and is often sent to the dump without being worn at all. Little attention is paid to the massive environmental damage that is being done, with poisonous gases coming from the chimneys of cloth manufacturing factories, toxic dyes and pesticides being flushed into bodies of water, and animals being objectified for their skin, fur or wool. Additionally, workers in third world garment factories endure unsafe, unethical and even physically abusive conditions, while being paid barely enough to live on.
How do you choose items of clothing for your own wardrobe? What factors do you consider?
When choosing pieces for my own wardrobe, I look primarily for clothing in natural fibres and rich neutral tones, in classic, timeless cuts. And of course it must be fairly made, and well sewn so it will last for a long time.
What materials do you use and why?
I use only the highest quality, mostly natural fibre fabrics, because I believe they are the nicest to wear. I use a lot of linen, which I love since it uses so little water and energy to manufacture. It also decomposes quickly when disposed of. I have sensitive skin so I also love that it’s naturally hypoallergenic! Natural fibres also last much longer, and soften over time so they just get better and better. It is often difficult to find well-made clothing that doesn’t include wool or silk, but all of the fabrics I use are vegan and cruelty free.
Who makes your clothes?
I make all of the clothing myself, from my home studio in Brisbane.
What are your tips for cultivating an ethical wardrobe?
The first principle of building an ethical wardrobe is not to throw out all of your current clothes and buy all new ones from ethical brands! It’s actually to take good care of the clothes you have right now, so that they will last longer. When shopping, I’m a big fan of the 30 wears rule – so if you can’t see yourself wearing something at least 30 times, don’t buy it. I also make sure to purchase from labels that are transparent about their manufacturing process, and don’t exploit either animals or people. I make an effort to also buy Australian made when possible, to support local jobs and our economy.
What three words describe your brand’s style?
Versatile, luxurious, airy.