If there are two superbloggers easier to love than Phil Oh and Susie Lau, I haven't met them. The proprietors behind Streetpeeper and Style Bubble have each been at the blogging thing for more than half a decade, yet manage to remain far away from the hoopla. And that's probably because Oh, a photographer/writer (who shoots for Vogue.com, amongst others), and Lau, a stylist/writer (who has written for Dazed & Confused and Elle UK, amongst others), have talents far beyond uploading a post on Wordpress.
Their most recent collaboration is an expression of their oft-overlapping personal styles and yen for travel: a small collection for Urban Outfitters, Oh, Bubble!, inspired by a whirlwind trip around the world. The collection hit Urbanoutfitters.com this week.
With Oh in Brooklyn and Lau in London, we talked this morning via email about the project. And other stuff. Like Tokyo Disneyland. And gummy bear jello shots. And Justin Bieber. Because there's way more to these two than fashion.
Fashionista: Hi guys! Congrats on the collection. How did it come to be? Susie Lau: It was just something that came up because Phil and I travel so much together - for the main fashion weeks, for Australia Fashion Week and then trips to Tokyo as well just because we love egging each other on when we're shopping for Comme. So the collaboration was sort of like a souvenir of those travels. We went to Mexico City, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Tokyo and just picked up some things from markets and odd shops that we thought would work in different contexts and then put together a "postcard" collection of clothing almost.
Phil Oh: I've been kicking around the idea of an around-the-world in 30 days trip just from a street-style photographer POV. And when Susie and I had approached some pals at Urban Outfitters about partnering for a blogging project, the idea for designing a capsule collection inspired from a Phileas Fogg-style trip came about.
Any crazy/funny stories that come to mind from your travels? SL: Encountering a man with an (illegal) monkey outside a nightclub in Shanghai. Attempting to go on as many rides as possible at Tokyo Disneyland because we bought the night ticket and only had four hours in the park. Downing vodka-soaked gummy bear shots at a party in Bangkok. Oh and too many strange conversations with taxi drivers from every city to recall.
PO: It was our first day in Mexico City and we were wandering around the Zocalo area looking for food and for touristy things to do. Instead, we found riot police, metal barricades, and thousands of mostly young people milling about. Was there some 'civil unrest'? A futbol match? Either way, it looked like some serious shit was about to go down. Susie jokingly said "maybe it's a free Justin Bieber concert" and sure enough a gang of teenage girls with face paint and homemade WE HEART YOU, JUSTIN banners came bounding around the corner. So yeah, it was a free Justin Bieber concert....
Fashion is an exciting, but strange, industry. Why do you think you became fast friends? SL: It's precisely because we sort of "stumbled" our way into the industry. It sounds cheesy to say that we might have bonded over blogging, but I do think we have a different outlook from other people in fashion, because we're sort of like "outsiders"--people who shouldn't be working in the industry but happen to do so. To survive fashion weeks together, we have to laugh at certain aspects of the industry and I think we're both aware that our days in the industry could well be numbered so it's important not to take it too seriously.
PO: I think part of it was that Susie and I have such similar sensibilities (or lack of) when it comes to style. Early in our friendship, she had come to NYC for a project and stayed at my apartment in Brooklyn. She did a photo post where she styled herself wearing clothes out of my closet, and it all kinda worked and looked totally her and ummm, also totally me. It was weird, ha ha ha.
But also part of it is that we both started our blogs around the same time, and happened to be around as the fashion industry started to pay more attention to blogging, street style, and digital in general. It came about so quickly that it was really great to have Susie as a friend to share in the "holy shit, what's happening?" feeling/anxiety/etc., that a lot of the earlier generation of bloggers were going through.
Tell me a little bit about the idea around the collection. SL: It was about the act of travelling and creating pieces that were souvenirs of that travel. They just happen to be wearable souvenirs. I'm definitely NOT trying to be a serious designer as I would never insult the REAL designers that I feature regularly on my blog, who have put in years of studying and interning to do what they do. It's therefore a small collection using fabrics and pieces that we found on our travels, updated and revised so that everyone can get the vibe of that city.
PO: Well, it's hardly a full collection but more like a few wearable mementos based on fun stuff we saw on our trip. We wanted it evoke feelings of a specific region, without looking like costumes in It's a Small World. The varsity jacket is a sort of mash-up of a Hawaiian/Japanese souvenir jacket but with Mexican themes instead—an embroidered tourist map of Mexico City, Aztec pyramids, and ummm, a panda munching on a taco.
What's missing in fashion right now? As in, what are people not designing that you'd want to buy? SL: I'd personally love to see more graduate grassroots ideas come to production and to fruition. Graduate fashion is getting a boost now with more publicity and press and there are now more and more crowd-sourcing platforms to help bring those ideas to the consumer. That's quite exciting to see!
PO: I think people are designing it, it's just not ending up on the retail floor. Commercial considerations, and all.
Go buy something from the Oh, Bubble! collection immediately. Urbanoutfitters.com.