How Katie O'Riordan and Theo + George are bringing style to sustainability

The Irish brand Theo + George is relaunching this season.

In a change of direction, the label is going back to its roots, and embracing durable and highly wearable wardrobe staples. It's also tapping into the values of slow fashion and sustainability. With a minimalist, effortless aesthetic, the pieces are made to work together seven days a week; these are clothes that people can look and feel good in.

The brand is fronted by award winning designer Katie O'Riordan, a former designer for the US Olympic Snowboarding team. Her vision focuses on style and sustainability, which leads to an effortless collection that's designed with the wearer in mind, while boasting a timeless quality.

Originally from Philadelphia but now based in Dublin, O'Riordan's admiration for fashion powerhouses emerged early.

"I always loved fashion," she notes, "and I remember driving my younger brothers nuts, because I was glued to the style network and E! Television. I loved watching one particular programme on the Style Network call Style Maker. It featured Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana and Betsy Johnson, and took you behind the scenes from the studio to the catwalks. Also, my mom and grandma sewed a lot, so I learned basic sewing from them."

O'Riordan's path into designing fashion was unconventional; she studied physics and economics at Colgate University, before moving on to architecture at Harvard. All the while, she was taking classes in art, with her love of design eventually taking over.

"I loved studying architecture," she reflects, "but I started working in an architecture firm afterward and didn't love it. It was from there that I got into sporting goods design, and I spent the next 11 years in that industry. It wasn't until I moved to Ireland in 2011 that I finally went to fashion design school. I attended Grafton Academy of Fashion Design."

O'Riordan soon founded her own label, Theo + George. Anchored in the premise of effortless living, the brand espouses - and lives up to - the values of minimalism, premium quality, sustainability and durability. Speaking about her brand, O'Riordan's passion and values are clear.

"We believe in sourcing ethically, committing to causes and challenging culture," she says. "We believe that buying fewer items that are more durable, timeless and made in fair conditions will actually save you money."

One of O'Riordan's most unique projects came early in her career, when she designed sportswear for Olympic athletes, including the US snowboarding team.

"We spent a year perfecting the process and the outcome was amazing," O'Riordan enthuses. "It truly looked like the team was wearing jeans. This project taught me that design and tech can go hand in hand, and that collaborating with a team can produce amazing results."

O'Riordan is also passionate about comfort and luxury.

"I am very critical about fabrics," she says. "If they aren't unbelievably soft and comfortable, I will pass them by. I believe that clothes should make you feel better, look better and move better."

Theo + George is available online - another deliberate decision by O'Riordan.

"We sell online only so that we can make luxury accessible. By selling online, we can mark down our garments about 50% off traditional retail prices. You can purchase our entire collection on theoandgeorge.com. We offer a service called 'try before you buy' to our customers in Ireland. Contact info@theoandgeorge.com for more details."

 

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