Overgrown Co. Tells a Story of Life and Death
Some brands just ooze style. Overgrown Co. is one of those brands.
Started by designers Will Richards and Oliver Burdett, Overgrown Co. has a distinct style that’s hard to ignore. Their work is all about awareness - of the environment, life, and death - and how everything is interconnected.
We chatted with Oliver to learn more about how they’ve developed such strong branding, what their process looks like, and what they didn’t expect when starting an apparel company.
Photography provided by Overgrown Co.
Where did the idea for Overgrown Co. come from?
Overgrown Co. was born from our fascination with, and fear of, IMMINENT DEATH! The Japanese Cherry Blossom and it’s symbolic references to mortality and the transience of life was the ignition that lead us to create limited, concept-based collections focusing on different elements of life, death, social and environmental issues, and also spirituality and mindfulness.
What’s your background? Have you always wanted to be working in the apparel industry?
Overgrown Co. is a partnership between Will Richards and myself. We are both from the creative world and have been lucky enough to gain personal platforms over the last few years in both music and illustration markets. Using those spaces to further influence social and environmental change within our scenes and promote fair-trade seemed like a great opportunity for us to try our hand at something new and spread some positive vibes through high-quality apparel.
What do you look for when designing a new product?
We have a few processes when it comes to creating a product.
We tend to either come up with a concept for a collection and then create designs to fit the story, or we’ll come up with a design we love so much that it inspires the whole concept. We gather inspiration from all sorts of places, but mostly from every day situations that create discomfort for us. We look for conflict a lot. We like to find light and dark in everything.
But, for us, there is a whole lot more to Overgrown Co. than our designs. We really pride ourselves on making something that we love. Creating a product is as much about the cut, weight, feel, style and ethics of the garment as it is the design on it, or its story. Comfort and style with a conscience is the whole package.
You stress the importance of your apparel being sourced and made in environmentally friendly ways. Can you share a bit about the importance of that to you?
For us young folk environmental issues have been a big talking point for our entire lives. Yes it’s something that we’re very passionate about, but more than that it is our responsibility to reduce our waste, and use our buying power to support the right people - particularly in this industry. We do that when we source our products, and in turn our customers do that when they support us.
Our ethics are who we are.
What are some ways makers can be mindful of the environmental impact of their work?
Know where it comes from. Create a connection. Create something that lasts. And go plastic-free.
We ensure all our products are high quality, complete with hand-finished, recycled labelling and are shipped in green, paper parcel bags to reduce waste.
Overgrown Co.’s branding is super strong and cohesive - from your designs to your product photography to your social media profiles. What goes into keeping all your branding elements on point?
Thank you! We try to keep as much as possible in house. We run all our accounts ourselves, create all themes and designs ourselves, we’ve done a lot of our own photography and modeling as well. That aspect alone probably helps to keep it cohesive. We do it that way because if we do as much as possible locally then our carbon footprint is smaller. But I guess we enjoy doing it, too.
I’ve always enjoyed the setup of limited, concept-based collections because it allows us to adjust, stylistically, pretty regularly. That helps us keep everything fresh and exciting for ourselves and our customers. It’s important that we keep each collection cohesive, but allow ourselves a little freedom on the next.
What led you to opening up shop with Big Cartel?
Big Cartel provides the perfect platform for new and acclaimed artists, or any kind of shop owner, to get themselves online quickly and with ease. I’ve been pretty blown away by the freedom you get. It allows you to create a site that looks like your own even when there are so many out there.
What’s been the most unexpected part of launching Overgrown Co.?
Honestly I think it’s that there are so many secrets in the clothing world. It takes years to locate and create relationships with the right people, and in such a competitive industry people keep their cards close to their chest. If you’re reading this and just starting out, then be patient. You’ll eventually work stuff out and feel better for doing it yourself.