Today we want to introduce you to a rising star on the Australian art scene, Olana Janfa — the artist behind our upcoming collection!
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Having only recently picked up a paintbrush, his prolific practice has quickly gained a legion of fans – us included! Born in Ethiopia, Olana grew up in Norway before relocating to Melbourne in 2O15. Drawing on childhood memories and elements of his Ethiopian culture, Olana’s charming, character-filled paintings pay homage to key images and figures from his young life growing up in Addis Ababa.
“I like to show the innocence and beauty of simple things in life; through nature and animals or different African characters,” Olana says. “A big theme in my paintings is mothers and children, and the sense of love and warmth they share. I think it’s something that everyone can understand, no matter where you are from.”
Last year, Kylie visited Olana in his studio to see firsthand the paintings that first piqued Kylie's interest. It's no wonder they quickly kicked off the collaboration conversation!
Early last year, Obus' creative director Kylie discovered Olana's work and was instantly taken by his vibrant and expressive paintings and his joyful approach to life.
“First and foremost, I was drawn to how joyful and colourful Olana’s paintings are,” says Kylie. “His artwork truly conveys his spirit as a person and you can feel he really loves the characters and stories he is telling through his works,” she explains. “I related to Olana’s story as a self-taught artist, too. There’s a highly intuitive nature to his art-making that mirrors my own career in the fashion world.”
Olana and Kylie in the Obus studio, working out the details for this special collection (launching February 6!)
Upon meeting Olana, Kylie soon saw the exciting potential for translating his distinctive motifs into textile prints, and found the feeling was mutual: So the seeds of the OLANA X OBUS collaboration were born! And we're thrilled to soon reveal this very special collection with you all.
Olana's hope for what people take away from his work is simple: "I want them to feel joy, and happiness. I want to take them somewhere else, to a different culture. I want them to think, wow this is not a usual Melbourne style – this is something different. I hope they will love it."
OLANA X OBUS launches Thursday 6 February, instore and online!
Subscribe to receive our OLANA X OBUS LOOKBOOK next week, and see sneak-peeks of the beautiful collab styles on Instagram all weekend!
Or see more of Olana's work on Instagram or at his website olanajanfa.com
Photo of Olana by Peter Tarasiuk
We’re thrilled to be amongst a select group of nine Australian fashion designers recently tasked with creating a ‘high fashion’ interpretation of a lab coat, to highlight the incredible work done by female researchers tirelessly working to find preventions and treatments for breast cancer.
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In 2019, it is estimated that 19,535 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Australia – which is what makes increased funding for research so vital. With this campaign, we were challenged to create something much more stylish, creative and tailored for the female body, to challenge the traditional view of what a lab coat has to be.
Obus' production manager Alison makes the final tweaks to our GRANDIFLORA LAB COAT. The beautiful deluxe cotton drill was printed by our friends Frankie & Swiss.
Our design applies our bold, bright GRANDIFLORA print to our classic blazer silhouette. Says Obus creative director and founder, Kylie Zerbst: “Everyone has been affected by breast cancer in some way – either personally or through the experience of someone they love or know. I felt our lab coat demanded a strong, functional silhouette offset by a lively, celebratory print that is sure to put a smile on the face of anyone who encounters it.”
The good news is, these one-of-a-kind coats are currently up for auction. The money raised will go to Breast Cancer Trials (BCT) who have been conducting clinical trials research for more than 40 years. You have until Wednesday 27 November to put a bid in for our GRANDIFLORA lab coats, with the highest bid acquiring this one-off Obus piece! All proceeds from the auction will go to Breast Cancer Trials and their vital research.
The finished GRANDIFLORA LAB COAT, custom made for the Her Lab Coats auction, features a popular original Obus textile design custom-made in Melbourne. A truly one-of-a-kind item!
This month, as we celebrate the arrival of Spring, our store windows have been filled with lush greenery. But there's a twist. The potted plants are all handmade by Melbourne's craft queen and our friend Kitiya Palaskas! Today we ask Kit about her life as one of Australia's premier craft-based designers.
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Tell us about a typical day as a craft-based designer.
Every day is different! That's what makes my job so interesting. I work from home at the moment so my day usually begins with a walk to my local cafe for a coffee, then it's into my studio to go through emails, do some admin, and then get stuck into my projects for the day. On any given day I could be working on design or construction, delivering or installing a project on site, teaching a creative workshop, or shooting content. I thrive off a busy productive day but full disclosure, sometimes I can also spend hours procrastinating while watching Royal Family Dance Crew videos on YouTube... it's all about balance!
(Top) Kitiya in her studio // (Bottom) Kit has become known for her bright and bold felt illustration and typography creations
What has been one of your favourite personal craft or design projects to date?
Publishing my craft book Piñata Party. Writing a book has been a bucket list goal of mine since I was 12 so this was a huge personal achievement for me. At the same time, it was also one of the most challenging projects I've ever undertaken and I learned so much as a result.
(Top) Kitiya can make a Piñata like nobody's business // (Bottom) Some of the felt foliage that is currently gracing our Northcote, Fitzroy and City store windows!
What was the most fun thing about creating your felt Forever Foliage?
Watching my cats try to eat the leaves because they thought they were real plants! 😂
Your Real Talk Project is all about encouraging dialogue about wellbeing issues experienced by creative people. Tell us about how it began and what you hope it can achieve.
After struggling with various creative wellbeing issues for years (but never admitting it out loud) I realised it wasn't doing me any good to suffer in silence so I took a leap and started sharing my experiences online and in keynote talks at conferences I was invited to speak at. I received so much encouraging feedback and discovered that so many of my creative peers were also experiencing similar things, many of whom were also hesitant to talk about it. Real Talk grew out of a desire to contribute to opening up the conversation about mental health in the creative industry and forming a space where people could seek solidarity through shared experiences.
What's the best advice — personal or professional — you've ever received?
Everyone is on their own creative path, you'll get where you need to be at your own pace, and there's room for all of us to succeed in our own ways.
What are some of your favourite travel destinations for art & craft inspiration?
Mexico – hands down! The colour and vibrancy, richness and diversity in culture, playfulness, and pure joy for all things handmade are the ultimate inspiration for me. I could visit a thousand times over!
Today we reveal something a little bit special that has been happening in Obus' studio HQ in Northcote, Melbourne. With the help of our friends at west elm and Haymes Paint, our head office and design studio in Northcote, Melbourne has had a makeover!
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Like our founder and creative director Kylie Zerbst, our head office team have a mutual love of colour, pattern and clean design. Over the years we have DIY'd updates to the space, freshening it with colour and adding functionality. But needless to say, when our friends at west elm offered to give our design studio a little bit of love, we jumped at the chance to add some of their beautifully designed products to the mix.
Our brief to west elm's Design Crew was simple: freshen the space with warm, tonal colours and select a range of products to ensure an efficient, productive workspace for Kylie and the design team. The results of their makeover blew us away – it's amazing what a few intentional and homely design touches can do to elevate a busy work space!
Obus founder and creative director Kylie Zerbst's desk in our busy Northcote studio. Kylie wears our BITTERSWEET DRESS (due August). Photo: Mike Baker. Styling: Rhys Duggan for west elm.
The place where our inimitable print designs are conceived, Kylie's desk was a key focal point for our studio makeover. Awash with collected inspiration and the tools of creative process, some key west elm additions like the Aluna Chair and the homely touches of the Asymmetry Lamp have added comfort to the space, while the Lacquer Tray keeps desk flotsam and jetsam contained!
[Above] Details from Kylie's Desk, including the Aluna Chair and Asymmetry Lamp from west elm. The studio wall has been refreshed in Wood Rose by Haymes Paint.
Always a hive of activity, the studio mezzanine is our team meeting space and design hub. Formerly a photography space, the white walls have come alive with colour. Painted in Haymes' Wood Rose, the north wall of the mezzanine now feels connected to the studio below. Directly opposite, the fireplace has been reinvigorated in Haymes' Comanche Dust, a team favourite hue! With a new set of comfortable Slope Chairs, some custom-upholstered Modern Stacking Stools, an Arched Floor Mirror, and a Sunstone Jute Rug to absorb noise, the space now feels like a design partner and a warm, comfortable space to meet.
[Above] Studio mezzanine – before: Formerly a photography space, the mezzanine was functional but not particularly visually inspiring.
[Below] Studio mezzanine – after: A revitalised space! Rug, light fixture, stools, mugs, chairs and planters by west elm. Fireplace painted in Comanche Dust by Haymes Paint. Photo: Mike Baker. Styling: Rhys Duggan.
A big thanks to the west elm and their Design Crew – especially Rhys, Lexi, and Chantal. Their classic, high-quality design pieces will have a home in our studio for years to come!
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a community organisation that works to alleviate and prevent poverty in Australia - an organisation Obus has worked with for many years. This Winter, we are proud to partner again with Brotherhood in raising funds that support children and families to thrive.
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Our 2019 Winter Coat Drive offers you two ways to support the Brotherhood. Donate a pre-loved coat at our Northcote, City or Fitzroy stores; or add a $2O ‘Brotherhood Gift’ to purchase online or instore.
In return for your donation, we'll give you 20% OFF any coat purchase!*
How Brotherhood of St Laurence help families and children
Astonishingly, 1 in 6 children in Australia live in poverty. Poverty is not just having too little money to live on. It can also mean they or their families being shut out from other aspects of social and economic life that people commonly take for granted: a job, a home, education, or being connected to community.
With your support, the Brotherhood of St Laurence can provide more children and families with quality educational services and learning environments that enable the next generation to achieve their potential. Their programs and services support disadvantaged people of all ages to build better lives for themselves.
What can your donation achieve?
$20 can provide four children with a nutritional breakfast every day for one week, helping them to be school ready
$20 can provide educational children’s books for our early childhood programs, helping parents to become their child’s first teacher
Coats that are donated instore will be on-sold to Brotherhood's Community Stores (op shops).
Join us in helping to provide a brighter future through education for some of Australia's most vulnerable children and families.
Find out more about Brotherhood's education programs here, or shop Obus coats here.
*20% discount will be automatically applied at checkout to any Obus coat. Sorry, no rainchecks. Discount cannot be used in conjunction with other promotions, discounts or vouchers. Promotion ends 11.59pm AEST Monday 10/6/19.Photos courtesy Brotherhood of St Laurence.
In celebration of International Women's Day, we'd like to introduce you to Dahli - an inspiring young woman who is making an impact as a social entrepreneur via her business Beehemia.
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Dahli launched Beehemia with a vision to reduce food and packaging waste in her community, as well as support Asylum Seekers through business profits and employment opportunities. (Oh, did we mention she is only in Year 8 at school?)
With the help of her mum, Gabrielle, Dahli and her Beehemia crew hand-make their beeswax wraps using natural ingredients (which smell divine!). While profits are donated to organisations such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), the venture also provides employment and skill-building opportunities for new Australians and people seeking asylum here.
Naturally, when we learned about Beehemia, we were 100% on board with supplying Dahli with linen and cotton fabrics in original Obus designs.
The limited edition Obus x Beehemia Food Wraps are now available instore and online. Now, your fresh produce, leftovers, and bring-from-home lunch can wear a little bit of Obus’ GOOD VIBRATIONS, LOTUS and LOW TIDE print too! 100% of profits from our sales of the wraps will be donated to the ASRC.
The future is bright with young women like Dahli driving change and making products that promote sustainability and social good, don't you think?
Left-Right: Kylie Zerbst (Obus founder/creative director) and Kerryn Moscicki (Radical Yes founder/creative director)
The Obus x Radical Yes collab has launched, and we're thrilled to partner with this conscious Melbourne brand to bring you a range of comfortable, practical and beautiful statement shoes.
Both Obus and Radical Yes are fiercely independent, female-owned businesses, committed to creating high-quality products that last. Kylie Zerbst, Obus Creative Director, and Kerryn Moscicki, Radical Yes creative director talk about this values-aligned partnership, how their customers influence their designs, and the wardrobe items they keep returning to.
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Tell us about the idea behind this collaboration, and why does it make sense for Radical Yes and Obus to collaborate on this footwear range?
Kylie: Radical Yes had been on our radar for a while as a company committed to the ethics and environmental standards we value in our own business. We also really love their design sensibility and the way that their products transcend current trends. While we have always manufactured the majority of our clothing in Melbourne, it’s increasingly difficult to produce footwear here. We admire Radical Yes's dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do.
"We admire Radical Yes' dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do."
Kerryn: We were so floored when Obus came to us to talk about a footwear collaboration because we have always admired their work. For me personally, I have looked to them as an inspiring example of an iconic, independent Melbourne brand who have been doing their own thing and doing it well for a really long time. We believe our customers have a shared set of values and a similar aesthetic so the idea of using Obus palettes on our silhouettes was a no-brainer.
Kylie: Yes it’s been a dream collab - it doesn’t feel like work when they’ve made the whole process so easy!
Running your own businesses, can you take us through your approach to workwear? What’s essential to you?
Kerryn: Flat shoes! I walk to work and on the way drop my kids at kinder and school, so my workwear garments are very focused on functionality and pragmatism. My outfits tend to be very simple in palette mix - lots of navy, charcoal and camel tones - to help disguise the inevitable kid stains. But then some days I also love to be super comfortable in a vintage oversized knit and denims. The common theme is always a flat shoe.
Kylie: I love colour and pattern. Similar to Kerryn, the Obus studio is local to my neighbourhood and I’m often arriving to work after walking my son to school. For me, I dress to express my personality but also feel comfortable all day. I love accessorising a casual linen or wool pant with a chunky knit, tailored shirt and statement earrings. The clothing we make at Obus has women who want professional and versatile clothing as its primary focus - it’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!
"It’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!"
What do you think is the edge that small businesses in the fashion landscape have over the big players?
Kerryn: Being truly connected to the customer, having more empathy with their needs and lifestyles rather than pushing product for the sake of meeting 'stakeholder demands'. I believe you can tell when product has lost its purpose and is just filling an 'assortment matrix' to meet stock turn targets. Maybe it’s idealistic, but I believe this is why customers are seeking out and responding to smaller makers who are producing from a place of passion before profits.
Kylie: We’ve always been a small and agile team at Obus, and I think this has helped us weather a few storms over the past 20 years. We can be responsive to trends, to manufacturing snafus, and in communication with our customers. Like Kerryn says, we can also get to know our customers really well - our stores are a mainstay of Melbourne’s inner north, and getting to know our local customers over the years is a bigger part of our overall design process than they probably realise!
Both Obus and Radical Yes create quality products that are designed to transcend seasons and last the test of time. What’s a favourite item in your wardrobe that is still going strong?
Kylie: This Winter I’ve loved my Obus Cocoon coat from a few years ago. It’s a bold lilac purple, collarless cocoon coat and always gets lots of comments!
Kerryn: I have a few key items from our collections over the years. My 'Saturn Returns' trainers in wool lined shearling are a definite go-to in Winter. My 'Little & Often' Day Heels are also an easy slip on that I return to almost daily. They look ace with opaque tights and denims. Can’t wait to wear the new lilac ones Kylie dreamed up for us!
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Today we’d like to tell you about an exciting collaboration between Obus and a business we love: Tsuno.
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Tsuno sells disposable, sustainable bamboo fibre sanitary pads and tampons. Founded and run by Thornbury-based awesome lady Roz Campbell, Tsuno is a social enterprise: 50% of their profits are donated to charities that focus on empowering women, with the main focus being education and menstrual support. In the last year, a further 10,000 boxes of pads have been donated to local organisations such as The International Women's Development Agency, Share the Dignity, The Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and Essentials for Women South Australia. Great, huh?
Tsuno founder Roz Campbell in her Thornbury studio
As if that wasn't enought, Tsuno products are also good for you. The pads are made from natural bamboo, and their tampons are made from 100% certified organic cotton. Bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable fibres available due to its fast growth-rate, low demands on resources and natural resistance to pests and fungi. It is also super absorbent, breathable, soft and comfortable and antibacterial. There’s no chlorine or dioxin bleach used in the manufacturing process of Tsuno tampons or pads, which means these chemicals (and a whole lot of other nasties that are found in regular sanitary products) don’t end up on or in your body. Hooray!
An Obus print (from our forthcoming summer collection) features on Tsuno's boxes of Regular Pads. Buy a box in August and we'll donate a box to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Tsuno pride themselves on their beautiful packaging and featuring different artists work. To date they have featured the work of Erin Lightfoot, Tim Royall, Evi O, Eloise Rapp, Andrea Shaw and now, Obus! We’ve donated an exclusive print from our upcoming summer collection to Tsuno’s new range of Regular Pads, and we are so excited to support this wonderful local enterprise.
Purchase in August and we'll match it!
Buy a box of Obus x Tsuno pads online or instore at Obus during August 2017 and we will donate a box to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Spread the love, help a sister and do something good for your body - there’s really no reason not to.
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Find out more about Tsuno's good work on Instagram @_tsuno_