ECO-FASHION: LEATHER JACKETS FOR A NEW GENERATION
By Ivette Aguilar
What is the history of your business, is it family owned?
Andrew Youngren: My wife and I owned a small boutique in Washington State and did much of our buying in Thailand. On a buying trip we discovered these wonderful jackets made out of recycled leather. We decided to try them in a bigger market in the states and online. We established a relationship with the designer and launched Olga Road.
Does the name of the business have any special meaning?
Our family lives on Olga Road on Orcas Island, Washington.
Why is Asia a specific resource for these leather jackets? Is it the quality of the material?
If you've ever been to Southeast Asia, you know that they never waste anything. Every scrap of every material is utilized. There is also a big movement of American vintage goods, especially in Thailand. Combine these two values together and you get upcycled leather jackets like Olga Road.
How many Thai designers work with you and how do you decide what jacket style will be a featured item for your store?
We work with one main designer in Thailand. We're mainly drawn to the classic leather jacket styles that have clean lines and a timeless feel.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is anyone who is eco-minded who is looking for a one of a kind item that won't break the bank.
Which jacket has been the most popular in terms of style?
I would say the most popular style has been the Waldron for its elegant simplicity as well as the Cypress which has a classic biker style.
What do you think of eco-friendly fashion and how are you incorporating that into your brand?
I think the eco-friendly fashion movement is exciting and important to the future of our planet. There is already enough stuff in the world; we just need to find creative ways of reusing it. Virgin leather requires a ton of resources, including the life of an animal and typically requires toxic chemicals in tanning process. By using recycled leather we can offer an alternative that is eco-friendly with the wearability and style that only real leather allows.
Do you see this as an advantage?
Our world is moving toward sustainable industries. By having a more sustainable product, our brand is in a good position in the changing marketplace. Since each of our jackets is unique, we also have an advantage in offering a one of a kind product.
What are your goals for Olga Road in the next several years?
We would like to continue expanding our brand into other items such as bags and accessories. We're looking into incorporating some other upcycled materials as well. We also have plans to start using some recycled shipping pouches made out of used rice bags.
Leather jackets have held an iconic role in the film industry since the early twentieth century, and fashion designers have dressed unforgettable characters such as Wyatt (Peter Fonda) in the 1969 film, The Easy Rider. Since then, leather jackets have evolved into an iconic mainstay in fashion. Now, there is a fashion line that has found a way to preserve, restore and recycle leather jackets, and they play a positive role in our green society.
Olga Road-Upcycled Leather Jackets is an American, eco-friendly, retail fashion line that recycles leather jackets. The company sources jackets throughout Asia and salvages the leather trench coats, reviving the jacket into an original, one of a kind leather jacket. They have designed various styles such as: The Blakely, The Cypress, The Moresby, The Pender and The Waldron. These jackets are made to fit plenty of styles in today’s fast-pace world. The best part of these jackets is that not only can a person look great wearing them, but it also contributes to improving the environment. Andrew Youngren, the founder of Olga Road shares his story and thoughts with MMJ. about today’s eco-friendly movement and what the future holds for his company.
Ivette Aguilar is a progressive graphic designer based in California
with an avid interst in contemporary art.
Image Courtesy of Olga Road
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