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Interview with the founder of Olivia Rose The Label, a brand prioritising made-to-order to reduce waste and elevate the Victorian image

November 2, 2019

If you've noticed an abundance of shirring and over-sized puffed sleeves crowding your Instagram feed, you've likely come across Olivia Rose The Label—courtesy of the 25-year-old designer Olivia Rose Havelock. Upon breaking into the fashion scene in 2017, Rose has gained a cult-following of girls embracing her Victorian era-inspired statement pieces. 

 

Each piece is handmade to order, typically taking three to five hours to craft—with the Beryl Dress taking nine! Rose lists these times on her website and shares progress shots on her Instagram. Such intimate, behind-the-scenes details, combined with handwritten notes accompanying orders, makes the brand even more endearing. What's more, with each item made-to-order from locally-sourced fabrics, Rose is paving the way for sustainable independent fashion brands. She ensures zero waste, less sizing issues, and beautifully unique pieces.

 

Having been featured in Vogue and Elle during her first year of production, and picked up by Selfridges for their 2019 Bright New Things—a selection of new brands combing style and sustainability— Rose undoubtedly has some bright things to look forward to in the future. 

 

We spoke to Rose about how she got started and where she plans to take the brand next. 

 

All photography by Bethany Grace

 

 

How did you go about starting out? When did you feel that your brand was really taking off? 

 

I started my brand out of a feeling of being fed up with not being able to express my creativity within the [waitressing] job that I had at the time. All I've ever wanted to do is design and making clothing, so I finally just went for it. For me, it was "now or never". 

 

I think the launch of my website and the first full collection was when my brand was really starting to take off. The designs, which are now my classics/staples, the visuals I created within the photoshoot and the whole vibe of the brand resonated with my customers and followers at that time. This created this amazing community. 

 

Why did you decide to move to Scotland after studying in London? 

 

I'd never lived in Scotland before—I'm from Middlesbrough in England. I had wanted to go to uni in Edinburgh but ended up in London after getting a scholarship at the Chelsea College of Art. After three years of living in a busy city, I wanted to move somewhere a bit more chilled out. Edinburgh has been great so far! I've been living here for two years now. 

 

 

Your clothing is all made-to-order, which is apt at the time when customers are increasingly seeking sustainable fashion brands. Why did you embrace this model from the get-go? 

 

Making my items to order was all I could afford to do at the time of launching my brand. I had very little money so I couldn't afford to have lots of stock, but I've always loved the made-to-order process. It helps me reduce waste, I can make items to my customers' specific measurements, and it's a lot more personal and special. I also have no wasted stock. There are just so many benefits to made-to-order that I don't see the need to change anything right now.

 

Selfridges is now stocking up your clothing, which I assume has garnered you even more attention. Do you think there will come the point where you will be unable to make everything yourself—and where will you go from there? 

 

If the demand for my designs becomes way too big, so it is hard for me to sew everything myself, I would love to expand to a small independent company in the UK to help me with the production. I've started looking into this recently. 

 

 

Where do you hope to be with Olivia Rose The Label in a year? 

 

I hope to work a lot throughout the next couple of years to work out the best and most ethical way to grow and expand my brand to its full and deserved potential. I have so many plans! 

 

 

Edited by Liza Mikhaleva, Fashion Editor 

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