Shop UO UO Blog

Closet Project:

Gemma Shiel

The founder of London-based label Lazy Oaf loves the '90s, hates cats and insists that fashion is supposed to be fun. Her closet is exactly as awesome as you’d expect it to be.

Interview by Katie Gregory

Hi Gemma! Introduce yourself.

Hello to you. I am Gemma Shiel, founder and creative master behind Lazy Oaf. I am from London and I like stuff.

Tell us a little bit about how Lazy Oaf came into existence.

Lazy Oaf started nearly 12 years ago when I had just finished university. I was a bit lost as to what I was going to be and do now that I was officially an adult. I loved drawing and studied textile design, so I spent a lot of my college time printing my illustrations on T-shirts for my friends. It struck me that perhaps this could earn me some money, too. I set up the most basic screen-printing area in my dad's garage and did a market stall in East London to sell my hand-made pieces. I managed to do this and have two part-time jobs on the go. Eventually stores were asking for ranges and the T-shirts got even more popular. I had to find production sources and give up a job! Now, Lazy Oaf has grown into a full fashion label; we stock stores all over the world and also have our own stores.

Where do you get your inspiration for the clothing you design?

Our collections are always inspired by my misspent teenage years growing up in the '90s. I love the '90s, from the TV shows, cartoons, music and, of course, fashion. I spend quite a bit of time trolling through old mags, watching cartoons online, and as a team, we create massive mood boards of random images we just like. There is never a specific theme. Everything in our collections also has to have a sense of humor to it too. It’s important to retain a tongue-in-cheek element. Fashion is supposed to be fun! All my graphics are hand drawn, and at times a little bit wrong. I like this and think this suits our brand.

If you could do a new clothing collab with any designer in the world, who would you pick?

This is a toughie, but I love Meadham Kirchhoff at the moment. I love their theatrical girliness. I don't know how I could possibly add to what they do. Perhaps I could just be a fly on the wall and hold pins while they work their magic.

In the pictures you sent over, are you wearing all Lazy Oaf? What's your favorite piece to wear at the moment?

Not everything is Lazy Oaf, I mix it up. My favorite piece to wear at the moment is the jewel collar shirt. It's so easy to throw on and I like how Tumblr-tacky it is. My favorite thing I own is my Mickey Mouse jumper. That bitch is for life.

Who is your fashion icon these days?

My fashion icons are a mixture of Minnie Mouse, M.I.A. and Blanche from The Golden Girls.

If you weren't a clothing designer, what do you think you'd be doing right now?

If I weren’t a clothing designer I would have to be doing something creative. I would like to write a children's book, have a music career and maybe run a café.

Any cool projects planned for the future? Where do you see Lazy Oaf going in the next year or two?

We have some really exciting projects coming up! We have a shoe collab with heritage footwear brand Kickers coming out over the next few weeks. I’m excited about our summer release, too. So many cute dresses! In October we have a special project that will rival what we did with Batman, but I can't tell you yet!

Tell us something that most people don't know about you!

I really dislike people that tie their shoelaces too tight. It really irritates me. Irrational, I know.


MTV or '90s sitcom reruns?
'90s sitcom reruns, naturally.

Neon or glitter?
Both, this is an impossible question.

A cat wearing a top hat or a dog wearing a bow tie?
A dog wearing a bow tie.
I hate cats.

Gemma Shiel

Shop Lazy Oaf