One year out of Parsons, designer Olivia Oblanc has already started her own clothing line, sold her collection at VFILES, and earned celebrity fans like Joey Badass. Oh, and did we mention her collaboration with Adidas Originals and Kendall Jenner drops next week?
It’s been one busy and intense year as Oblanc still works, for the most part, by herself. Having a strong sewing foundation was essential for her quick success, she says, adding that she learned to sew in her junior year of high school after befriending New Orleans designer Kelli Cooper. Cooper “taught me how to create a garment in my head, create the pattern from scratch then construct the garment from start to finish,” she says, noting that she also learned to “never be sloppy” because “quality is shown in the construction of the outside and inside of a garment.”
By the time she arrived at Parsons, Oblanc already had extensive knowledge about how fabrics and garments worked, not just how they looked. Having graduated with multiple awards from the university, Oblanc then accepted help from the Dean of Fashion at Parsons in launching her own brand. In August 2017, the label went live with its first streetwear line, sold at shopoblanc.com. A year later, Oblanc has seen success as a result of what she calls “hard work…sacrifice, and a bit of good luck.”
On November 15, Oblanc will release her first collaboration with Adidas Originals, for which Kendall Jenner is the face. Oblanc was flown to Germany by Adidas to discuss the terms and vision of the unisex collection; it was there she and Jenner teamed up to discuss the design of the launch party and were given the reigns on conceptualizing the entire event, taking place in London on November 15th. The collaboration combines Adidas’ sporty-grunge attire with Oblanc’s industrial style and is comprised of bold colors, loose fits, and lots of stripes and straps.
When asked where she gets her design ideas, Oblanc says her senior thesis project, which focused on the versatility of “workwear and utility hardware,” continues to inspire her today. Since coming to New York from New Orleans, Oblanc has grown to admire the beauty of non-conforming gender binaries and how they are externalized to fit into the aesthetic frontier of the city. “I’ve always found androgyny to be super sexy in appearance,” says Oblanc, who, with the help of her casting director and longtime friend, Ruby Green, searches for models with an “interesting look and [already established] style.” The affinity for androgynous models carries the mood of her brand perfectly, as the utilitarian and boxy cuts of her pieces hide the otherwise gendered attributes under a guise of edgy fits, straps, and chains.
Oblanc’s line is progressive and relevant without even trying. Her clothes are practical, sustainable, and gender fluid — all qualities brands today aim to market toward their audience. But for Oblanc, it comes naturally. She understands her generation’s frustrations with old conventional norms and our push for a more inclusive environment. When asked how she sees herself fitting into the fashion world, Oblanc simply shrugs: “The main thing is to find a niche in fashion [that] you are really good at and go with it.”