(De)Constructing Design, Oil by Olive


Often the complexity of our world seems intangible - unsubstantiated, even. Social identity theory states that we categorize objects and our surroundings in order to understand them and identify them. Slightly deeper, by means of social categorization, people are classified according to groups of similar characteristics. These characteristics can vary on a mass-scale of terms and definitions - race, occupation, education, nationality, etc; Recently the spotlight has pushed gender, sexuality, race and nationality into the forefront of the public sphere, forcing a restructuring of traditional systems and what it means to be “normal” in a heteronormative world.

Interestingly enough, the rise of social awareness, sensationalist media and special interest groups has begun to multiply in a plethora of ways - promising access, agency and protection to those that choose to identify with them. Trending hashtags have replaced our sit-ins, t-shirt slogans have replaced our words and and social media has replaced our marches. 

Time and time again, it is the smaller brands, collectives and business owners that take an ultimate, unyielding stance. They understand that re-situating yourself in a broken system is still guilt by association - and with, or without millions to lose, they are willing to risk it all. In their own words, “Oil by Olive rejects labeling and the obstruction of individuality.” Of course, profound statements are attractive and highly marketable when defining a clothing collection - but one glance at Oil by Olive’s designs display a permeating notion of individuality, experimentation and redefinition of the entire status-quo. Fuzzy fur, bonding leather, dainty chiffon and minimal mesh are all utilized for a collection where you won’t ever find the option of selecting “Men” or “Women” as a search option. The clothing simply exists - and as consumers, collectors and deviants, the wearer is left with the ultimate privilege of deciding how to define each carefully constructed piece.

For some, androgyny renders ambiguity. It complicates the institutionalized standards that are (too) long uninterrupted. It rattles, shakes and unnerves all that is “normal.” Subverting gender norms and dismantling an entire industry might seem like a lot to accomplish - but Oil by Olive is well on it’s way.