Designer Amy Conlon from Outliv. Image supplied
Amy Conlon is the designer and founder of sustainable bag label Outliv which she launched in early 2018. Amy created Outliv as a way to combine her love of fashion design with her personal commitment to sustainability as all of Ouliv’s pieces are made from recycled materials. The designer has had a life-long love of fashion and a long career in the industry already, including 12 years in design roles in the UK, before she returned home to New Zealand in 2014. Outliv is a response to the current environmental state of the planet and the brand’s recycled ethos is a way to help reduce pollution and over-consumption.
We caught up with Amy to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
Each collection we produce is inspired by the preloved clothing that we are able to source. We recycle these fabrics into lightweight, soft, slouchy handbags. Our latest collection incorporates designs aimed to reduce the waste of the smaller off-cuts from our production. We source our fabrics locally from second hand and charity shops and have found some gorgeous butter soft leathers and durable denims. We work with earthy tones and add fun colours and textures. The linings in our bags are retro inspired patterned fabrics and as a result of using preloved clothing, each bag we make locally here in New Zealand is unique with no two identical.
What made you become a designer?
I grew up loving clothes since I was first able to dress myself. I would get changed more than 9 times a day into different colour coordinated outfits and drive my mother mad with the mess! I chose to study sewing in school at the first opportunity I had and incorporated ‘fashion design’ into my school projects were possible. I knew that the fashion industry is where I wanted to be and in my final year of school, I worked with a career advisor who helped me steer my career that way. I went on to study fashion at AUT and this energised my passion for clothing, accessories, fabrics, textures and design. I found myself getting great grades and then was awarded a scholarship in my final year and this just confirmed to me that I was on the right track to a career path that I was very passionate about. Soon after graduation I moved to London to purse my career in fashion and spent 12 years there working for a variety of companies from high street brands to suppliers and luxury fashion. With a lot of dedication, encouragement and passion for fashion I have now worked in this industry for over 20 years.
What inspires you?
My two gorgeous boys and their future on this planet, the beauty in nature, the power of collaboration for a good cause.
Bags by Outliv.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My personal style I think has been strongly influenced by strong women in my life and in particular my mother and my nana. From seeing my mother rock power dressing in the 80’s to nana wearing classics pieces that don’t date. I learnt how to have fun with fashion and that when you look after your clothes, they really can last you forever with some love and mending! Love, mending, recycling and recreating are some of the foundations of Outliv designs. I love a retro patterned dress, a pair of black jeans, a band tee and my favourite hand knit retro jumper found on one of my pre-loved shopping outings. And alike the bags we create for Outliv, I am a little crazy on the inside… ha-ha!
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
My all-time favourite purchase…. oh, this is a tricky one. I will give you three that first come to mind and you can choose for me! My Armani eco wash denim jacket found on a buying trip in Milan, my grey marl Marc Jacobs tee that I never want to ‘run out’ and my home made hand knitted acrylic and mohair jumper found at my favourite car boot sale in my old neighbourhood in London and bought for two pounds!
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A denim jacket that when you try it on… you just don’t want to take it off!
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Yes. I worked in fashion retail at the start of my fashion career and would spend endless hours trying on clothes when the shop was quiet. A good friend of mine who I worked with always asked me what 5 items in your wardrobe can you wear with that… “babe, you can’t just buy everything” she would say.
Bags by Outliv.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career has been having the opportunity to re-align my passion for fashion with my personal values and from that launching Outliv. Outliv was created out of the concern for the state of our planet and the future of fashion. I love what Outliv stands for, the product we create from pre-loved clothing and the events we hold to inspire conscious change through sustainable fashion. I am also proud to support the environmental organisation Sea Cleaners donating $5 to them with every bag we sell.
What can’t you live without?
My thrifted fur collar coat, my two little munchkins, my family and soul sisters.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing….
Clothes that I don’t absolutely love.
Images by Sarah Weber Photography.