ethical + genderless = bobblehaus #33talks

Founded by Chinese-American Co-Founders Ophelia Chen and Abi Lierheimer, BOBBLEHAUS is a a combination of their heritage with suiting and streetwear. From multicultural to multisensory, BOBBLEHAUS ’s mission is to build the community the founder’s craved for at a younger age and still crave now.

BOBBLEHAUS encourages the world to see the beauty in its opposites, creating a space for unity.

BOBBLEHAUS bridges East + West youth culture. We are a New York designed, Shanghai-made, genderless brand, dedicated to expressing our inner absurdities through elevated + ethical streetwear. BOBBLEBLOGS make space for our voice + lifestyle, with writers from all over the world. Everything is written by, and for, our community; from Amsterdam to London, from Jakarta to New York, and from Taiper to Singapore.

– Ophelia Chen and Abi Lierheimer, CO-FOUNDERS OF BOBBLEHAUS

Drawing inspiration from New York and Shanghai BOBBLEHAUS partners and collaborates with multidisciplinary design studios, musicians, artists, and philanthropists to create a community-based experience rooted in the new generation’s spirit.

A TALK WITH ABI LIERHEIMER, CREATIVE DIRECTOR + DESIGNER OF BOBBLEHAUS

Describe yourself as a designer and how did you start? 

My design career started when I decided to attend art school in Savannah, GA. I hadn’t always known I wanted to be a designer, and actually started my college career studying Mathematics, before transferring to art school. 

I would describe my design aesthetic as colorful, dynamic, fun and functional. I was raised in Colorado, where I did lots of sports and outdoor activities. I find that highly technical sports brands are coveted now – and for good reason. When clothing serves a functional and useful purpose, AND is fun and exciting to wear, it becomes truly memorable. 

How do you manage the creativity process exactly?

Being constantly surrounded by digital media can fatigue the creative process. It feels like I must consume media all the time. But the reality is that we have to balance our media consumption with our personal lives, and other forms of creativity. I highly value time spent outside, whether it be biking, hiking, riding my motorcycle, etc., as a way to keep my mind well primed for an industry that relies on constant, creative output. Then, for me, the creative process comes naturally, and can be much more intentional. 

When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?

My first internship was at 3.1 Phillip Lim in NYC, the summer between my sophomore year and junior year of college. The most valuable thing I learned from this experience is the importance of context of your work and references. My boss was the head of women’s design, and her extensive knowledge, of art, culture, and particularly fashion archives, blew me away. She would tell me the designer, show, year, and context of every reference we found – all from memory.

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position? 

I worked at Coach on the women’s design team. I was part of their apprenticeship program that filtered college graduates into their company. I applied a few months before I graduated, and then moved and started working 5 days after graduation.

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

The biggest rookie mistake I made was thinking that I needed to stay corporate for at least a decade to be able to have a real impact on this industry. I really, truly believed that I had no voice, and thought, “why would anyone listen to me?”

What’s the main impact of social media in fashion industry in both ways, fashion buying and brand marketing?

The main impact of social media is consumer awareness, consumer reach, and, ultimately, consumer retention. There are many different ways to use social media for buyers, brand marketing, and advertising, but at the end of the day, we are all trying to either reach a new audience, and/or a returning audience through top of mind marketing. 

What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?

Favorite part of the fashion industry: the opportunity to say what I want in a nonverbal form, and making people smile when they put on the clothes. Least favorite part of the fashion industry: the oftentimes purely intentional, and reckless waste of resources, and the negative impact this industry has on the environment. 

Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?

On the production side, we work extremely close with our small, made-to-order studio in Shanghai. With them, we cut the exact amount of fabric needed for each collection, to reduce fabric waste, and commit to using as much deadstock, Tencel, recycled cotton, and other eco-friendly fabrics as possible. We also don’t do any custom color dye, and don’t produce our own fabrics.

On the brand side, we employ young writers and creatives, from all over the world, for our BOBBLEBLOGS platform. We invite them to share their personal experiences, multicultural identities, and inspirations; from art, music, and fashion, to print media, entertainment, and people. We hope the combination of the physical product and the community building is something that will give the customer lifelong benefit, not just compulsory satisfaction.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?

The biggest challenge for me as a fashion designer, is to not become too cynical about the industry, because I believe that many brands are trying to become more authentic in all of their practices. 

Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words . 

Renewable, compostable, deadstock, biodegradable, made-to-order.

How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?

In this political and environmental climate, I think that sustainability should be the baseline for anyone preparing to go into the fashion industry. It is not an optional topic of discussion anymore, it is, and should be, a regulated standard. 

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?

I think that selling online helps to break down the barrier to entry, that so many consumers associate with typical fashion brands, and the industry itself. 

Imagine that you must write a letter to your FUTURE SELF. What would you write?

Don’t worry, don’t hurry, and don’t forget to smell the flowers.

BOBBLEHAUS

BOBBLEHAUS bridges East and West youth culture.