Recently our eco collection welcomed new labels from our home shores here in the UK.
One of them is Olas. A British start-up of eco-friendly surf and yoga leggings by Devon based designer Claire Deacon. Claire is not new to the world of fashion. She uses her knowledge and experience from the industry to try and make a more positive impact to the environment and society.
Read on to find out more about Claire and her leggings made from recycled plastic bottles.
What's the background story of Olas? Could you tell us a little more about how Olas was created?
The idea came to light in 2016. As an ocean enthusiast living in Devon I became very aware of plastic pollution. I found that it takes plastic bottles over 400 years to completely degrade. It was prominent to me that that plastic is a design failure. A clothing designer at the time, I got creative and started researching into recycled plastic fabrics. I felt passionate about creating awareness around the importance of recycling plastic and I wanted to turn the threat in threads - to highlight the importance of recycling plastic in the hope that it will stop entering our landfills and oceans, to use recycled fabrics that didn’t harm the environment in the process, to manufacture in England and to create a product that resists deterioration and offers longevity. Most importantly I wanted to add momentum to the consumer mindset of reducing, reusing and recycling.
Keen on surfing, yoga and fitness it was natural to channel my creative energy into activewear. With plenty of will I seeked out the best recycled polyester fabric supplier in Italy. They adhere to high standards of sustainability in water use and greenhouse gas emissions and have a proven track record in reducing their environmental impact.
I could see my idea was within the bounds of possibility and I got the ball rolling.
Enter Olas! Meaning ‘waves’. A brand all about the most wonderful things, the ocean and nature. I wanted the spirit of Olas to be illustrated. Leggings provide an awesome creative canvas and it was at this stage I invited the talented freelance artist Callie Preston from Devon to come on board and hand paint some lovely artwork. I wanted to work with Callie as her beachy vibe is perfect for Olas. I am dazed by her work. You can see more of Callie’s creations on Instagram @calliepreston here. Rad! In the meantime I was busy designing the Olas logo, swing tags, website, lookbook, etc.
It was very important the leggings were cut and sewn in fair working environments, I had experienced factories in the Far East where workers were exhausted trying to keep up with the demand of the fast fashion world. I wanted the leggings to be made in England so I explored the options. I got in contact with an old acquaintance who heads up a sewing house in England. They made some great samples and the rest is history! Recycled plastic fabric from Italy that is printed, cut and sewn in England. Stoked!
Has it always been your dream to create your own brand?
My passion for sustainability began in my college days years back when I designed an eco friendly brand named Logical. I was all about using fabrics that helped the environment. I was aware of how damaging the textile industry is. I had lots of fun designing biodegradable shoe boxes, shoe soles out of recycled tyres and swing tags with giveaway seeds! I went on to gain valuable industry knowledge designing shoes, bags, graphic artwork and surf clothing for some reputable brands. I further unearthed just how damaging the textile industry is to the environment and my desire to create and eco friendly brand grew stronger.
You make leggings for surfing and yoga, do you combine the 2 yourself?
Yes! Absolutely! Both are a personal journey of progression and together they help strengthen the other.
Why do you think they make such a great combo?
I am a yoga teacher at a surf camp and am always emphasising how surfing and yoga are a match made in heaven! Yoga compliments surfing perfectly as it builds strength, flexibility, better breathing techniques, mental focus and balance – all of these are key when out in the water. Your muscles are mostly contracting in the water and benefit greatly from yoga, as it lengthens the muscles and really helps to melt away tension that you can build up while surfing. I often liken the rhythm of the ocean with the rhythm of the body.
Are you thinking about expanding the range from leggings to maybe tops etc?
As Olas is a startup brand, we had to start out with a small range. With some support and incitement I am sure we can push the boundaries and offer a broader range of slow, eco-friendly and durable products.
What have been your biggest challenges and achievements?
I think the biggest challenge has been to be content with launching such a small range! It would have been awesome to showcase a large range with tops, rash vests and swimsuits etc, but the project has been self funded so I could only really budget the four legging styles. The dreams were big but I had to hone it in!
The biggest achievement for Olas is the fair pricing. For an eco friendly brand to be Made In England is quite a feat, let alone for them to be priced so reasonably! I am not looking to make millions on this, I genuinely want to help the ocean and inspire a forward thinking consumer mindset. The margins are tight, but I want people to be able to support this.
Your leggings are made from recycled fabrics. Do you try to adjust/change other things in your life to save the oceans? What do you think everyone should start doing?
I definitely try to avoid single use plastics, recycle any plastic I can, collect and recycle plastic from the beach, and avoid microbeads. Most importantly, I spread this message and try to wake people up! It is a challenge to ‘break up with plastic’ but I think it’s important to carry your own reusable bottle, reusable shopping bag, say no to single use plastics, ditch cosmetics with microbeads, shop for groceries that aren’t wrapped in plastic, and spread the word on the importance of recycling plastic!
Go and spoil yourself to one of the beautiful Olas Leggings.