Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eclectic style & Individualism | An interview with Lyz Olko of Obesity & Speed

Photo © Tom Newton

How did you first get involved in the fashion industry?

Well, I don’t have a formal background in fashion. Growing up in New Jersey, I was interested in punk, skateboarding and zine culture, along with photography and film. I moved to the city to go to SVA, and while I was in school I supported myself working at this clothing store called Seven New York. Seven was one of the first stores to carry brands like Raf Simons, AsFour, BLESS, Jess Holzworth and so many other designers I became super inspired by. I couldn’t afford to buy, like, ANYTHING—so just started making clothes.

What lead to the birth of Obesity & Speed?

I was in the store fitting a shirt I had made on a mannequin—it was never very busy so I had time to write term papers and sew my own stuff—and a stylist asked if she could buy it. So I called my boss and rang it up. It ended up being for Gwen Stefani, who loved it, and the next thing I knew people were calling about "my clothing line." A stylist friend who worked with a japan based sales and press showroom asked to see the line for potential representation and I had to hand-sew sweatshirts in time for the appointment, including the lace skull sweatshirt that's now the O+S signature.

For those who aren't familiar with the brand how would you describe it?

O+S is a men's and women's street wear brand with a darker edge to it. 

What do you think sets Obesity & Speed apart from other brands around at the moment?

Everything is hand-made with embroidery, destroying and dyeing and I personally deconstruct my signature ripped tees. My tastes are always evolving which is translated throughout the collection while still retaining the core values of Obesity + Speed from the beginning.

Obesity & Speed has a very distinctive look and feel about it. There's a real gritty street wear vibe mixed with punk and 90s grunge. Where do you find your inspiration?

I'm always inspired by something new. I might happen upon a movie I've forgotten about, a random photo, a picture of a 90’s rapper or an old ad for something a museum trip anything really and it will spark an idea for a new collection. A lot of my inspiration comes from music and films: bands like Black Flag, The Germs, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, early Scorsese movies, horror movies like Cannibal Holocaust and Friday the 13th Directors like Dario Argento and William Friedkin..Abel Ferrera….even 80’s movies like Say Anything, 16 Candles. I can stay home and watch movies over and over again while sewing or drawing.

Lot of documentaries….like Children Underground, Streetwise…Manson doc…

Would it be fair to say music and music culture has a great effect and influence on you and the brand?

Yes! Music and pop culture greatly influence my designs. 

Where do you draw a lot of your own personal style from? Do you have any of your own style icons?

My style is kind of eclectic. I admire people who have great individual style and dress for themselves. A lot of my girlfriends have dope taste. I think Chloe Sevigny and Sky Ferreira always look amazing, my friend Masha Orlov always looks cool. And my photographer friend Ami Sioux.

Is there any one artist/model/designer out there you would love to collaborate with but haven't yet?

I admire so many artists and designers! There are so many I am fans of: like Raf Simons. I love Bernhard Wilhelm and Galliano Margiela BLESS Celine, Miguel Adrover…..I love what Virgil Abloh is doing with his brand Off White. In terms of photographers, there are way too many to name. That’s a whole other interview!

Are there any projects you are working on currently you can tell us about?

I'm working on a collaboration with Agent Provocateur, so stay tuned!