Interview: Gemma Shiel of Lazy Oaf



Streetwear was all over Capsule earlier this week. If you made the rounds at the show, you couldn’t miss Lazy Oaf and its pink-haired mastermind, designer and owner Gemma Shiel. Since its start in 2001, Lazy Oaf has become beloved for its vibrant cartoon prints. At Capsule, she was previewing Lazy Oaf’s AW12 collection to be released this fall, and the SS13 collection coming early next year. For these collections, Lazy Oaf has grown up. But no worries, only in terms of construction – with intricately constructed tailored shirts for SS12 and utility coats for AW12. Lucky for us, we’re still getting Lazy Oaf’s playful and zany prints.

We sat down with Shiel to chat about Lazy Oaf, her inspirations, and what can be expected from the East-London based brand.

Are you bringing something different to Capsule this season?

The general feedback from the people that I’ve met here is that we’re quite bright and colorful. People have been really positive and said that we stand out at Capsule’s show because of our prints.

What were the inspirations for these collections?

It’s always a 90’s vibe. When I was a teenager growing up in the 90’s, I always go back to the youthful, visual culture that I surrounded myself with. I was really into bold patterns, trashy television, and cartoons. My illustration style is very cartoony, so there’s always got to be an element of that in our collection. I want my clothing to be playful and make people smile in not too much of a cheesy way.

We’re all familiar with Lazy Oaf’s animated prints and tees. Are you introducing new elements to the brand?

We’re still doing all-over prints. There are new garment shapes that we haven’t done before, like the utility jackets, and we’ve got some zip features in our sweatshirts, so you pull down the zipper and there’s a little surprise underneath. There’s also a pocket detail on the t-shirts. You can pull the lining out and it becomes something else.

We’re always seeing cartoon eyes on your shirts. Where do they come from?

It’s something we run with a lot because it personifies our garments. It’s the classic cartoon eyeball, so it’s like a running thread that runs throughout our collection.

Can you describe your customer?

We have a mixed customer base, so it’s hard to pin someone down. It’s quite young but I’ve seen the last person you’d expect to really fall in love with something. We have a little fan base that turns out for everything and gets involved. Our core customer goes from about 15 to late 20s, both men and women. They all seem to be young, creative, and into fashion and graphics.