It’s a world where talking hamburgers, long tongued monsters, Disney-esque rodents, spotty watermelons and melting ice-cream cones all live happily side by side in a multi-hued house of red, green and blue. It’s a world where pin badges tell you to ‘shut your mouth’, a tee-shirt will call you a ‘duurrrr brain’ and a greetings card will remind you that ‘sometimes your face looks like a bum’!
Not for the faint of heart or the seriously grown-up, this is of course the world of Gemma Shiel, the pink haired ‘First Lady’ behind cult street brand Lazy Oaf.
From it’s small beginnings in East London, the brand has become increasingly popular due to it’s quirky and unusual graphics, limited edition pieces and general pull to all things wanton, wacky and whimsical. Whether through it’s pieces of plastic jewellery, knitted winter bobble hats or saturated cropped tee-shirts, Lazy Oaf has become the brand of choice for those who want to set everyone around’s eyes to ‘Wowzer’!
Last week saw Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out take over the streets of London and Gemma was also in-store at the Lazy Oaf shop in Foubert’s Place to launch her latest Autumn / Winter collection. She talked me through her new range and with brand new design styles, an expanded men’s wear collection and the brand’s 10th birthday to celebrate in October, this designer might be a bit of an oaf but she certainly aint lazy…
How has Vogue influenced you, if at all?
Not to speak ill of Vogue but I’m not a massive reader of it. The biggest influence it might have had is that I found a massive stash of 60 and 70s Vogues a long time ago and the adverts are just amazing, so sometimes I use those as design reference. I also really like the adverts from the 90’s for Moschino, Chanel and Versace which were in Vogue, they are all up on my pinboard. So more vintage Vogues than the current ones.
What other magazines inspire you more?
I really love Japanese magazines like Nylon Japan, Cutey and all the teen Japanese mags. I try to get hold of them and I then just pore over them cos they are just awesome! It’s no-holds-barred fashion which I need for inspiration and putting together pattern.
You recently collaborated with Fred Butler, who would you ideally like to collaborate with?
Ooohh, lots of people! We are doing some collaboartions with illustrators that I love at the moment and a there are a few American illustrators with just amazing work, so we are doing designs for tee shirts with them. But Disney would be my ultimate, re-working some Disney stuff, working with Mickey Mouse would be a dream!
What is your current obsession?
That’s easy, nail art! Im obsessed with it. I went to Brooklyn and got my nails done for $20 and now i’m thinking what can I do with my nails next! I started with subtle ones but now they are just going to get longer and nastier and i’ll get accessories maybe…that’s my current obsession!
Who is your style icon?
Minnie Mouse is my style icon for sure!
A fact about yourself that not many people know?
I’m a closet fantasy fiction freak. I’m really into the whole Game of Thrones series. I have read every True Blood novel,they’re really trashy and wrong! I don’t really like telling people that though.
What do you eat for breakfast?
At the moment it’s ‘Jordan’s strawberry clusters’. I’m on an exclusion diet, I’m intolrent to stuff so have to weed it out. So no rock n roll breakfast for me, it has to be really healthy!
What has been your proudest career moment?
Loads of them. I think getting into Selfridges was something that I really wanted to do and that was a massive achievement. Working with the Tate was also amazing. Also turning 10 years old,which the brand will be doing in October! We have been going for 10 years, Im so thrilled about lasting that long. In fact every time I see someone wearing a bit of ‘Oaf ‘I get really excited. I get excited about a lot!
What songs are you listening to right now? Does music inspire you?
My music taste is really rubbish! It tends to stop at 1995. I have some current stuff but generally don’t know what it is all called. This morning I was listening to my ‘Belly album’ from when I was 13/14, im a bit of an old indie chick. I like a lot of riot girl stuff and girl bands from the 90’s; that actually sounds cool now eh?! But it’s been my taste for about 15 years! I think a lot of people who are in their late teens now are discovering this angst ridden music which actually fits with fashion. It’s a bit dirty but obviously still relevant.
What will your tombstone read?
I dunno! Maybe “What an oaf..what a lazy oaf” or maybe “I’ll be back“! No, how about “Watch where you’re stepping!”