Friday, 24 November 2017

#anewageinspiration: Study 34


Bonjour and welcome to today's #anewageinspiration post. It has been a while since I have done a new age inspiration post but even so I've still had a few definitely inspirational people on my blog, for example George who founded the fashion brand with mental health at its heart, Maison De Choup. Nevertheless, I have missed doing these online interviews so I'm back today talking to Eleanor O'Neill, the Founder of Study 34, an ethical clothing website that features some stunning brands and even more recently their own line of alpaca jumpers. Eleanor is such a cool lady (to go along with a very cool name) and I loved talking to her about how Study 34 evolved, who inspires her and about Study 34's own pieces!

What is Study 34? Eleanor said how: 'in 2014 [she] came back to the UK and set up [her] little studio. [She] got out all the machines already had and purchased a few more so [she] had what [she] needed to start and just went for it. [She] started designing small collections and making pieces to order, then it grew to working with a small British factory using dead stock yarns and now [her] latest product is made in Peru in an amazing factory, with 100% baby alpaca. It’s an incredibly versatile, beautiful and luxurious fibre.





How and when did Study 34 come about? 
I first started to think about setting something up of my own during my last job, when I was working as a knitwear designer in Italy. I was really frustrated with how everything worked – speed and convenience took precedent over creativity and authenticity almost every time. I began to think, if I feel like this now and it’s only the beginning, perhaps I really need to ask myself if this is what I want to do. An odd situation given that I had been so passionate and sure about working in the fashion industry until that point. I was, and very much still am, passionate about the business of making clothing, but not in the way it is done today.

The qualities and origins of materials, the way an item of clothing is constructed and cut – this is where my interests lie. I’ve never been inspired by trends or excited by shows or photo shoots. Even when I was studying, I was happiest working at a machine, figuring out how to actually make something, and make it really well. I’m interested in the product itself, how it fits, how it performs, how it’s made. But there does not seem to be so much time for that in the fashion industry today.

I <3 this jumper from L'envers so much !!
What are the main things you’ve learned about the fashion industry and consumers through Study 34? 
About the industry, I’ve learnt that it’s changing super fast and while it’s a hard to get your idea off the ground, really, it’s also anyone’s game. I've learnt that it is bigger and more complex than I could ever have imagined. If you’re going to set up your own label you have to be so unbelievably passionate and determined and most of all, incredibly resilient!

In terms of consumers, I think there is beginning to be a shift in mindset – but only in a certain group. The reality is that many people are so used to cheap prices, they simply would not consider or even cannot consider paying more.



What do you think is the main reason stopping consumers from buying ethically?  
Price is certainly an issue, especially for the younger generations I think, as we are not used to clothing costing so much. The message that I feel is important to communicate though is that the cheap clothes that you’re buying are utterly devoid of skill, love or story because they have not been made by someone who cares – because all too often, they cannot afford to.

I think that’s the saddest thing. It’s not about beauty or quality or craftsmanship anymore, but money and speed. I also think though, that our generation will change this for the better because we are increasingly driven by and attracted to good stories and experiences.


Time is another thing I think. Of course you’ve got the bigger labels like Patagonia, Eileen Fischer, Reformation, People Tree etc. who, compared to the smaller guys like STUDY 34, have a big presence in the market. Often smaller labels are harder to come by and people don’t want to spend their time looking for stuff because they simply don’t have time. They need to find something quickly and it’s easier to go where you know rather than actively look for something new.

People often say that the lack of ‘knowledge’ and ‘awareness’ of the realities of fashion supply chain are issues too. But I really don’t think that in 2017 that can be true. If you haven’t heard, even on some tiny level, the issues raised about practices in the fashion industry I’m not quite sure where you are hanging out or what you’re reading!





What do you think will be the future of fashion, do you think that ethical fashion will become a mainstream and widely bought into industry? 
In the long term yes – simply because the industry has to change its ways in order to survive!

STUDY 34 is part of a group of brands making up 7.5% of the global fashion industry who have signed a commitment to consistently work towards better practises - this group includes big players like H&M, ASOS and M&S. If the industry doesn’t operate in a more sustainable way in the near future, the variety we currently have will simply not be possible for future generations.

Is there anyone who inspires you in the ethical fashion industry? 
Yes, lots of people! I’m inspired by so many others who, like STUDY 34, run small businesses focused making one thing beautifully. If I think about what I’m wearing right now for instance - Veja, Hiut Denim, The White T-shirt Company, Woron, Animana - I admire all these brands and their founders hugely, and I’m incredibly pleased to have met and be friends with so many of them too!



What was the inspiration behind your new (and stunning) knitwear range? 

I get my inspiration from the natural qualities of fibres as well as the production processes of a garment. I love to explore that, think about the strength and weaknesses of a fibre, of a craftsman and skills of the manufacturer etc. I like to design with the intention of showing these things off because to me, celebrating them is what makes clothing so beautiful, timeless and worth treasuring.

Thank you so much to Eleanor for answering the questions. The pieces and brands sold on the website are all so gorgeous, I wanted to share with you this website because it has a culmination of such great ethical brands and even Study 34's own line! My favourite to ask is always about who inspires them, I hadn't heard of Woron or Animana before but after looking into the brands I absolutely love them. Perhaps this could be the start of another #anewageinspiration interview? Is there however anyone you would like to see me interview, any brand or person, perhaps even a Youtuber? 

lots of love, eleanor xx

*lil disclaimer that all the photos on this post are taken from the Study 34 website :)
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3 comments

  1. As always I love your #anewageinspiration posts and Study 34 were so interesting to read about! Their products are stunning and it's amazing how ethical they are. Lovely post x

    Erin // Everything Erin

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  2. A poignant answer about a change in only a small group of people - I think a lot of people are put off by the cost of ethical fashion. I'm hoping as it grows, prices can fall based on economies of scale and we win over more and more people.

    Great interview, thanks Eleanor & Eleanor!

    Besma | Curiously Conscious

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