Why you should never save an outfit for a special occasion, according to Olivia Cashmore

26 January 2022
By Fashion Quarterly

Courtney Joe speaks to the emerging Auckland designer about her philosophy on getting dressed, age representation, R&B, and more.

Cashmore's father Stephen wears the 'Stephen' vest, fleece sweatpants, and mother Theresa wears the 'Again and Again' fleece jumper and 'Catch Me If You Can' jogger pants. Photography by Rachel Soh.

Olivia Cashmore has been teasing us a little of late. One look at the 27-year-old designer’s Instagram and you’ll find the makings of her eponymous label: a nondescript yet crisp white garment slung over a glossy black stool, a textured pile of black, green and cream textiles, and a pair of aged, jewelled hands opening an emerald green zip. Within these cropped snapshots, there’s something incredibly intriguing about Cashmore’s creations. From the unique textures, findings, and finishings of each garment to the brand’s bold logo and aesthetically pleasing colour palette—before you know it, you will have been mentally clicking  ‘add to cart’ before the brand’s official release.

At the time of writing this article, Cashmore is three days out from launching her first collection, which consists of two capsules. The first is a nostalgic trio of everyday, track-inspired essentials made from recycled fleece and nylon. The second is a pre-order capsule of elevated yet timeless statement pieces—all styles made to be worn well, often, and together.

“I think [Olivia Cashmore] is very much a reflection of my style, and also my personality,” the designer says, as she draws parallels between her collection and her own wardrobe choices. “You have those nice things in your wardrobe that you don’t often wear and you save for a special occasion… I’ve never been like that, I’ve always just loved to put something beautiful on because it makes you just feel, it makes me feel better… rather than keeping it in my wardrobe.”

Cashmore fits the 'Again and Again' fleece jumper on a friend. Photography by Natalie Ng.

Take one glance at the brand’s inaugural campaign, and you’ll see that Cashmore has made mixing and matching formal styles with everyday leisurewear appear effortless. Cashmore’s aforementioned ‘nice things’—bias-cut dresses in glossy silks, sheer georgette singlets with ruched straps and buttonhole openings, oversized shirting, and impeccably tailored blazers—are designed to be worn with the collection’s casual polar fleece zip jumper, vest, shorts, and recycled nylon ‘jogger’ pants.

Mixing formal wear with leisurewear is just the beginning. “With my clothes, I want everyone to feel like they could picture themselves wearing some of my pieces,” Cashmore says as she reveals the two stars of her campaign: her mum and dad. “Naturally, they were both nervous about having their photo taken, and then when the photographer Rachel was in front of them, [modelling] just came so naturally, I was like, ‘Who are you people?!’”

The 'Another One' blazer, 'Bubble' top and 'Catch Me If You Can' jogger pants. Photography by Rachel Soh.

While the fashion industry is slowly moving towards more size—and ethnically—diverse campaigns, Cashmore is quick to raise the importance of age representation, too. “I don’t want people my parents’ age to look at a model who’s 20 and maybe love what they’re wearing, but feel like it’s just for someone young.”

While Cashmore strives to position her brand as one for all ages, sexes, and occasions, she does so with humour. The brand makes light of its entry into a saturated market—in jest, the Olivia Cashmore tagline reads: “Ugh, not another fashion label”. A traceable supply chain that is kind to the planet and its people is a non-negotiable for Cashmore. However, the designer sees the inherent value in simply creating clothes to make people feel good and beautiful without taking herself too seriously, particularly in this current climate. The brand’s ethos, right from the fabric origins to the key messaging, is considered. “If people like it, that’s great, and if people don’t, then I’ve got more ideas,” she says.

Cashmore’s simultaneously relaxed yet considered approach to fashion is reflective of her work’s greatest inspiration: hip hop, jazz, and R&B music. “I’ve just always loved it [the music]. Weirdly, it just feels like me. That kind of music, the beat, and the clothes, it’s a huge part of who I am,” she says.

Evelyn “Champagne” King’s ‘Love Come Down’ blasts from her studio speakers as Cashmore explains her love for these genres. And it’s precisely this upbeat R&B tune that encapsulates Cashmore’s design sensibility. There’s purpose, soul, and beauty behind the lyrics, but they make you want to sing and dance in pure joy at the same time.

Discover the brand at oliviacashmore.com

This article was originally published in Fashion Quarterly Spring 2021. 


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