Hi, I’m Anna and I created O2wear in 2011, we’re based in Adelaide Australia. It all started one winter with my own futile search for an everyday base layer. I just couldn't find something that ticked all the boxes, though I’ll admit my search criteria was pretty long! I was looking for a thermal that wasn’t itchy, didn’t get smelly and was soft and comfy to wear. It needed to be insulating for warmth, but not add extra bulk when layered. I also wanted something that looked good even if it wasn’t going to be seen much, and with all this in mind, it was slim pickings :)
I began research in to manufacturing my own range and as I learnt more about the process and the fashion industry as a whole, I realised I wanted to work with sustainable materials. This narrowed the search somewhat and led me to bamboo fabric. It ticked many of the boxes when it came to the qualities I was looking for in a fabric – breathable, light-weight, moisture wicking, suitable for sensitive skin and eczema suffers, feels and looks good, but importantly it’s a relatively sustainable option. Bamboo is actually a grass, it’s a self-regenerating crop that requires little in the way of water or pesticides to grow, reducing its ecological footprint. (If you’re interested to learn more, head here).
We design for quality, longevity and functionality. Manufactured from premium, sustainably sourced materials that look good, feel good and don’t cost the earth.
So with some savings in the bank and a bit of blind optimism I launched my very first ‘range’ of bamboo base layers, just 2 styles – leggings and camisole singlets! Slowly but surely O2wear developed some amazingly loyal customers who are still following along to this day and the collection has expanded and grown over time. O2wear now has a comprehensive range of bamboo base layer thermals, ranging from tank tops and leggings right through to our latest addition the turtle neck skivvy. In 2020 I also launched O2wear Travel, a range of organisational accessories, think packing cubes and toiletry bags (in what was possibly the worst timing in history #rona). While it’s a step away from clothing it is designed to complement our existing range for women, with accessories for home and travel.
Sustainability, everyone is talking about it. To me and for O2wear this means making conscious decisions not just about our fabrics but the whole lifecycle of our products and approach to business.
When it comes to fabric we aim to minimise. Choosing fabrics like bamboo and RPET (post consumer recycled plastics) we aim to reduce the ecological footprint our materials have on the planet. But it’s by no means the perfect fabric, I’m not sure that exists. And that’s why I feel it has to be about so much more than just the material, but the how and why of the business too.
Things like packaging. We’ve eliminated single-use plastics in our supply chain with the exception of our courier satchels (but we’re working on it!) and to-date we still don’t put swing tags on our products cos it just doesn’t seem necessary. I also work closely with my manufacturer to ensure we minimise fabric waste in the design and cutting stage of production.
But perhaps the area I think most about is the products we choose to bring to life. For that reason, it’s been a very conscious decision to stick to base layers and essentials. Choosing to design and produce products that last, manufactured with quality components and stitching, items that are wearable year after year and free from seasonal trends and fads, basically the opposite of ‘fast fashion’.
I began my research in to manufacturing my bamboo range back in 2010, when I was living and studying in Shanghai, China. After visiting a number of factories, I settled on a small manufacturer just outside of Shanghai which specialises in environmentally friendly fabrics and small batch manufacturing. Ten years later I’m still using this same supplier for our clothing range while establishing new long-term relationships with factories for our custom packaging and travel range.
Our products are certified by Oeko-Tex Standard 100. This certification means that the fabric and materials that go into our products contain no harmful dyes, chemicals and metals so you can wear and use our clothes and products with confidence.
Strict labour laws in China prevent the use of underage labour, require employees to be paid for all hours worked and protect their rights to holidays.
Why not manufacture in Australia?
While I completely understand the desire to shop Australian made wherever possible, I just couldn't make it a viable option for O2wear. Australia isn’t growing and producing bamboo fabric or RPET meaning that even if I were to cut and sew here, it would be with imported fabric which to me would make it ‘Australian made’ but with a technicality. I also do a lot of ‘small batch’ manufacturing with small colour runs which just wouldn’t be possible locally. Lastly it’s a price thing. Even if I were to manufacture here, it would mean charging a lot more for the same product, and that was something I didn’t feel comfortable with either. I hope it will be possible one day!
We ship everything direct to you from our warehouse in Adelaide, Australia