The Block

Interviews — 4 months ago

Uniformed Workwear with Valerie Hui of Otho London

The last few years have seen the fashion industry an interesting landscape when it comes to the subject of gendered clothing. With more and more brands taking design inspiration from silhouettes previously only worn by the opposite sex they are designing for. Personally, I can’t count the amount of times female friends with an affinity for work-wear’s classic detail and construction have wished they could own pieces from many well known brands that just don’t produce clothing for women — Step in Otho London. We hit up founder Valerie Hui to talk design, inspiration, and what it takes to run the womens workwear brand.

UNIFORM-WORKWEAR-OTHO-LONDON

Can you tell our community a little about yourself to get started?

I’m the founder and designer of the London based brand, Otho which launched in 2014. After graduating from London College of Fashion, I did a few freelance design jobs here and there before starting my own brand.

— Otho London AW 17. Source: Otho London.

How would you describe the aesthetic of Otho?

Uniformed workwear tailored for women.

How did you develop Otho?

It was quite an organic process… having struggled then to find workwear for girls, I realized that what I wanted to create could easily fill a gap in the market!

— Otho London AW 16. Source: Otho London.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It really varies but usually it’s admin in the morning followed by the creative stuff after. At the moment, I’m working on creating new pieces for the online store… so my day consists of mostly sewing and developing.

When you’re in need of a hit of inspiration, where do you turn?

Exhibitions, documentary photography books and men at construction sites.

— Otho London AW 16. Source: Otho London.

What would be your dream project?

I’d love to do an installation! It would be great to work on something on a large physical scale, and I’ve always love to dabble in set design.

What’s been your favourite piece of work to date?

The pinstripe denim overcoat and matching jeans from AW15.

What can we expect to see from you for the rest of the year?

More garms, more work, more collaborations!

— Otho London AW 15. Source: Otho London.

What has been the hardest part of your journey? How did you overcome it?

I would probably say having to do wholesale each season, it’s incredibly tough for small brands to meet minimums for production. Most of my products are now sewn in house so we can produce with demand and on a small scale, and I’ve now moved my focus to selling direct to the customer through our online store. We should be relaunching in early March so keep your eyes peeled!

3 tips for anyone looking to start their own creative journey?

Organise your shit, don’t rush into it and work your ass off!

— Otho London AW 17. Source: Otho London.

Heritage vs Contemporary – which one and why?

Can I choose both – 70% Contemporary and 30% Heritage? I take a lot of inspirations from traditional workwear but also modern construction uniforms. I think it’s important to understand the origin of the design and interpret it in a new way.

Biggest challenge facing the creative community in 2018 and beyond?

Staying afloat.

— Otho London AW 17. Source: Otho London.