Lazy Oaf‘s Gemma Sheil talks exclusively to Wonderland about doing things differently and the lo-fi approach to life.
Born from a love of cartoons, childhood nostalgia and a fetish for all things ‘90s, Lazy Oaf is a brand that prides itself on doing things a little differently.
With fun firmly rooted in the brand’s foundations, whether the Lazy Oaf team are travelling to Tokyo to research Puikura (those crazy pop-art inspired Japanese photo booths) or getting lost in toy shops full to the brim with genuine ‘90s relics (Hello Kitty and My Little Pony galore), their against the grain approach headed by founder and designer Gemma Sheil is nothing but unique.
After spending years of her childhood obsessed with the nations laziest feline, for SS14 Gemma chose to collaborate with Jim Davis’ Garfield re-imagining him in a new era. We talk to Gemma exclusively about ‘90s nostalgia and what it means to do things differently…
Why did you choose Garfield for the SS14 collection?
As a brand we’re so cartoon influenced and I’m always drawing fat lazy cats and appropriating them somewhere, so I thought it would be really nice to do something with Garfield. He almost epitomises the Lazy Oaf character in cat form. He’s ambivalent, he loves food and he doesn’t want to move very far – he’s a lazy oaf! Jim Davis was really great to work with; we got to go through the entire Garfield archive picking out which Garfield’s we wanted to work with.
What about with your other collaborations, are they always something that’s close to your heart?
Yeah, I think whenever we choose to do a collaboration it has to come from somewhere quite personal. I do it because it means something to me, not just for the sake of doing it. It could be something that I was fascinated with when I was a teenager, or something that I was obsessed with as a child. Evoking nostalgia is a common theme for me, whenever I design a collection it always references my heyday as a teenager.
It’s clear that humour is one of the key components to Lazy Oaf, but what would you say the other pillars of the brand are?
Wit and humour are massively important, but we’re also trying to be a bit irreverent. I’m not super interested in making political statements. It’s focussed on the day to day – the lo-fi approach to life. I take a little bit of a punk attitude towards creating things and I don’t concern myself with whether something is going to be super commercial, if I like it and it’s a little bit weird or odd, that makes me happy. I think that’s why people like us.
So this all fits in with your “doing things differently” approach…
Yeah we don’t tend to do loads of trend research or anything like that, we just do what we want and hope for the best!
What made you choose to do a live presentation for the Garfield collection?
We wanted to do something other than a party. We did a party to launch the Looney Tunes collection and it was so chaotic which meant the focus wasn’t on what we had created. So this time we wanted to do something that drew attention to the collection rather than free food and beer! We also fell in love with our lookbook. I’ve worked with Rosy Nicholas the art director and set designer for years and we loved the idea of doing something that had more of a fashion edge. It really personified the collection.
It really did! What about the rest of 2014, what does it hold?
We’ve done a capsule collection which is going to be launched at the beginning of June. It’s not a collaboration, it’s just something we wanted to do. It’s a strong themed collection called “Space Odyssey” and I’m really excited about it, it’s inspired by a sort of 1960’s version of space – a little bit bonkers but fun. Then we have AW14 launching in July.
“Space Odyssey” sounds exciting! Coming back down to planet Earth, which city do you think is the most fashionable right now?
I’m going to have to be really boring and just say London, but it’s true. I also love Tokyo and I’m always so inspired when I go there, but London just has that edge.
If you could dress anyone in Lazy Oaf alive or dead, who would it be?
Someone has asked me this before and my answer has always been Sue Pollard but no one ever remembers her! Otherwise Jan from Grease would be great, she’s the one with the pig-tails.
What about if Lazy Oaf had a soundtrack what would it be?
Being a 90s girl, my music taste mostly goes back to 95. I loved 90s girl bands such as Belly, Bikini Kill, The Breeders (all start with B…weird). I also loved a very little known band called Salad that inspired some ill advised bleached streaks in my hair and I was also a bit in love with Neneh Cherry and anything that Kurt Cobain touched.
Lastly what are your top five ‘90s memories?
1. Getting some LA Gear High Tops in white and pink, their hang tag was like a Californian number plate.
2. Pencil cases with a zillion compartments (early ‘90s).
3. Findus Crispy Pancakes. Beef and onion flavour.
4. Police Academy movies
5. Being really, really good at making friendship bracelets.
Words: Brooke McCord