Reuben Oliver is a plant-based knitwear brand designed in New York City and manufactured in Peru. Focused on innovative designs and sourcing some of the world’s finest fibres harvested along the northern coastal region of Peru, the company is making some serious waves in the fashion industry. Rueben Oliver creates a progressive re-introduction to knitwear by building off of historic techniques, while also introducing new knitting processes and never-before-seen designs.
We sat down with the brand’s founder, Reuben Gladstone, to find out a little more.
How did you come up with the idea/concept for your brand ‘Reuben Oliver’?
It really came out of an admiration for both luxury goods and sustainable business. I was really fascinated by the sustainable brands that were popping up when I was in my undergraduate programme at Parsons. Brands like All birds, Everlane, Eileen Fisher, and Patagonia were focusing on building companies that were less harmful to the environment and more sustainable. But I didn’t necessarily see myself wearing the clothing, rather more as an admirer of the concepts.
On the other side of the spectrum, I loved the clothing that luxury brands were coming up with but I felt like they weren’t really focusing on making less harmful clothing.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your brand?
I really just love creating in any format. It’s been such a blessing being able to wake up every day and design and story-tell using the brand as a vehicle.
What has been the hardest part about having a luxury fashion brand?
For me, the hardest part is being consistent with my mission. One of the hardest things for young luxury brands is carving out your identity and staying consistent with it. A lot of exciting opportunities come along the way of growing this luxury company, but some at the expense of the mission and the vision. It’s one of the hardest things to do, but I constantly try and regroup to align with that original mission.
Why is sustainability important to you and your brand?
It’s so important for all of us as human beings living on this earth. I am 28 years old and I can confidently say that when I came into this world the environmental situation was way more under control than it is now. I feel like I have an obligation to leave this plant better than I came into it – although that is an uphill battle. It really just comes down to making people feel good about living more sustainable lives – and I feel honoured to be able to use a luxury brand to leverage that relationship.
If you use recycled materials, where are these sourced from and what percentage of the garment is made using recycled materials?
We started this brand focusing on strictly plant-based materials, which in itself removes a large percentage of waste stemming from leather, wool, and so many other animal materials. As we look into the next season we are partnering up with several companies working on innovative sustainable materials for yarn. We also are going to use recycled fibres and yarns for our collections.
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
It starts from just making things I personally would want to wear that I don’t necessarily think exists in the vertical I design for (menswear, knitwear). I really am inspired by mental health, meditation, and streetwear which are translated into the collections. We try to focus on clothing that makes people feel calm and relaxed whether that’s with the colours we choose or the comfort element we are going for.
What makes Reuben Oliver different from other luxury sustainable brands?
We try to stay innovative with the materials we are using, the silhouettes, and introducing knitwear into a context that’s never been seen before.
Are there any exciting releases of collaborations coming out soon?
Yes, we are releasing a summer collection very soon. We also have some exciting collaborations in the works.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own fashion brand?
Have a strong concept and don’t give up! I was able to identify that knitwear was a growing trend throughout the industry and that helped me get a leg up earlier than other brands. Being able to identify open white spaces that aren’t saturated in the space is a really valuable skill. The next part is just focus and determination.
For more information, visit reubenoliver.com.