x

The Style Line x Brand Assembly: ÖHLIN/D

Anne Deane and Jacob Park of OHLIN/D photographed by Bridget Badore for The Assemblist x The Style Line

Photos by Bridget Badore for The Style Line – in partnership with Brand Assembly

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.53.48 PM

Rooted in individual expression, sustainability and creative design, ÖHLIN/D is the product of a new generation of designers who are examining the big picture – and creating for it accordingly. Our recent visit with ÖHLIN/D’s Jacob Park and Anne Deane (in partnership with BRAND ASSEMBLY) spoke more to this idea. Empowering the increasingly present desire for ethical fashion doesn’t mean one has to sacrifice style – in fact, ignoring this growing movement is far more costly. ÖHLIN/D’s thoughtful approach to design celebrates this, which is evidenced in their quality craftsmanship and communal sustainability as they have streamlined their manufacturing processes and cultivated a growing creative community of artists with whom they collaborate with each season. We were thrilled to have the chance to meet with the team at their New York design studio to learn more about the brand’s journey, their thoughts the synergy between fashion and style and on creativity’s role in the world’s bigger conversations. Discover our conversation with Jacob and Anne below and also visit The Assemblist for a closer look into their space and for more of their industry insight.

HEAD OVER TO THE ASSEMBLIST TO SEE PART TWO OF THIS FEATURE AND MORE FEATURED DESIGNERS AND TASTEMAKERS.

My name is Jacob Baxter Park, and I’m the Creative Director of ÖHLIN/D.

I’ve worked with Anne Deane, the President/Founder and friend, for 3 years now. Outside of ÖHLIN/D, I do a lot of styling, image making and yoga, and I write, direct and perform original plays and performance pieces. I love being outdoors… I value more than anything both my biological family and my chosen family and my chihuahua Mussy.

Hi, I’m Anne Deane, the founder of ÖHLIN/D.

Although my work is my life – in a healthy, happy way – outside the office I quite enjoy spending as much time outdoors as possible (with my dog) or connecting back to my literary roots through reading or writing. This past summer I took a creative writing night class at The New School, which was a cool way to get outside of my normal day to day.

Here at The Style Line we use personal style as a lens to tell our stories. With this in mind, what was the defining moment in your life that made you realize style and fashion resonated with you? Do you believe there is a distinction between fashion and style?

JP: I’ve been introspective and questioning my identity from a very young age. I didn’t stop playing pretend and assuming characters until I was in high school. This is really the catalyst behind my interest in style/fashion – the ability to re-invent and explore myself through my style. Clothing is our chosen skin, and that really interests me and amuses me in so many ways. The literal word ‘fashion’ is representative of a lot of ugly things for me… the industry… the detrimental effect it can have on social structures and the environment. Fashion is lovely to me when it represents creativity, authenticity, perspective, hard work and talent. I love fashion most when it stands up for the freaks and feels like the inclusive community I imagined it to be when I was little. It rarely shows itself in that way these days unfortunately. Style and fashion are not mutually exclusive, but style is so great because everyone has it whether they like it or not.

Walk us through the inception of the brand, how has it evolved? 

JP: The brand started with a few knit styles developed ethically and sustainably at a small women-run factory in Peru, where to this day we manufacture 90% of our knitwear. We felt so siloed in the sustainable fashion community back then. We were so small, working out of a 50-square-foot hallway in downtown Manhattan.
We knew we wanted to promote social and environmental change without being too granola. These days it seems that more and more we are meeting like-minded peers. Discovering new resources… it’s really inspiring. We even have a functional website and e-commerce store now, which feels like a really big deal to me haha.

Even with an increased interest in slow fashion, we’ve spoken with other interviewees in this space who contend that phrases like sustainability and ethics sometimes have “plural” meanings. With regard to the fashion industry, how do you think we can or should be (realistically) defining sustainable and ethical fashion? How does ÖHLIN/D currently define it as a brand?

JP: This is the most difficult question to answer every time someone asks us. Sustainability means so many things. It incorporates SO many aspects and details of a prospective “sustainable fashion business”.
I personally like to define it as common sense and the right thing to do. In the workplace we define it as an ever evolving and gradually improving system with which we try our very hardest to comply with. I could tell you that sustainability is encapsulated in a cotton sweater made of 100% natural fibers sourced from naturally irrigated cotton fields. But you might come back to me in 6 months and tell me you threw it in the trash because it fell apart due to the fact that there were no synthetic materials incorporated in the sweater to make it stronger and more durable.
It’s a lot to think about and after three years, we aren’t even 100% there yet.  There is so much waste, so much demand, so many horrible processes. We are educating ourselves every day on the matter.  At the end of the day, our society has an incredibly warped sense of what it costs to make quality clothing and most big players in the industry don’t want to talk about it.  It’s really disappointing.  Sustainability is almost a way of being…. and if our collective consciousness doesn’t start shifting towards a sustainable mindset, we are all going to be in a lot of trouble.

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

JP: Anything that’s not fashion related…

AD: Haha same!

What role do you think creativity plays in some of the world’s bigger conversations and how do you think ÖHLIN/D is contributing to this?

JP: Creativity is everything. Creativity changes the way people think. Creativity can be beautiful, and it can also be evil and manipulative. We want people to think creatively about sustainable clothing options. We are trying to show people that social and environmental change doesn’t really have to be a sacrifice… just a transition.

How would you advise the next generation of creatives, designers or makers to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love?

JP: Don’t be an ass, and don’t be selfish. Show respect to the earth and all the communities that live on it. It’s not hard to do what you love consciously; it just takes some investigating.
AD: Listen, watch and be patient. Stay connected and grounded both in what you do and how you instill values within the materials you are interacting with. Be conscious and be happy.