Clash caught up with the label's founder to talk cartoons.

It doesn’t take long to absorb one’s self in the Lazy Oaf life. They have fingers in numerous pies and all the social media outlets expected of such a label today.

Then of course there’s the website, flagship store off Carnaby Street and 200 plus stockists worldwide. “But I never ever thought I’d be here in 12 years time,” Gemma Shiel tells Clash.

Bearing a pink barnet and armed with the sweetest of voices, Shiel is the company’s founder, director and creative force; she started out printing T-shirts in her dad’s garage in 2001.

“It’s nice to know that all that hard work at the very beginning and refusing to give up paid off,” she continues. “Not that we’re a massive massive success, but we’re still changing and we’re still thinking of new ways of pushing ourselves.”

Lazy Oaf’s next push will no doubt come from the collaboration launching this Friday, the reason we’ve been invited into the brand’s HQ and are sat in Gemma’s office questioning the empty dog basket (he’s at her mums).

Following a successful Batman collaboration last year, the Oaf has this time worked their magic with Looney Tunes. As Shiel tells it, “It just kind of fitted really.”

“I remember all the Warner Bros stores when I was a teenager,” she lets on. “All my friends had those dodgy denim shirts with the embroidery and I thought it would be really nice to see what our take could be on it.”

“And also I haven’t seen Looney Tunes applied in a nice way through streetwear or fashion for a while and I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see how it comes out. Hopefully it’s alright.”

The outcome is very much all right, with key Lazy Oaf styles decked out in Tunes characters via prints and motifs. Cropped jumpers, shiny leggings, shirts, bodycon and tees all make an appearance.

“They’re all my babies,” says Gemma of the clothes. “There’s one piece that I had the idea for and was like ‘I’m not sure we’re going to pull this off’, but I think it’s come out quite well.”

The item in question is a fluffy Bugs Bunny jacket complete with eyes across the front. On paper it sounds like a jacket to rival the Kigu trend of the last few years – dressing up light if you will – but in practice it could be worn out and about without even a slight lol from passersby.

“Personally I love the Bugs Bunny oversized sweatshirt. That’s something that I can see myself lounging around in,” Shiel continues.

Her favourite Looney Tunes character though, didn’t make the cut, as she giggles, “My favourite character’s probably not even in the collection! I love Bugs Bunny but I really like Elmer Fudge.”


Her office mood board is filled with the sort of images you’d probably expect (funny/girly/90s), but that’s no bad thing. Lazy Oaf has a strong brand identity courtesy of a youth spent drawing cartoons and a fondness for the slightly offbeat.

One of the best bits of her job – though finding solutions to problems is high up there too – is the travelling. Las Vegas, LA, Berlin, Paris and New York are among trade show destinations, though Asia’s popular too. 

“Oh my god, personally I like South East Asia and I really like going to Japan and Tokyo. Last year we went to South Korea which was pretty cool,” she tells.

“I would really like to go to South America, I really want to go and see a Day of the Dead festival, totally un-work related but it could be inspiration.”

There are plans to extend the collections and progress the women’s line, while the next collaboration – another cartoon – is already lined up for April.  The dream however would be Baby G, and maybe a car too.

“We’re really keen to do more collabs with some other brands actually, that’s something that we’d really like to do more of.”

For now though she’s excited about Friday’s launch and happy listening to an audiobook of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ as she plans AW14. 

Words: Zoe Whitfield


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