We spoke to a Lancaster student about his up-and-coming sustainable fashion brand

‘We want to do it right and give artists a platform that they wouldn’t otherwise have’

The Tab Lancaster sat down with Luke Buckley, a third-year Geography student and art gallery manager to discuss the fashion brand and online store that he and his partner, Matt Field, a third-year environmental science student, have been developing.

‘We were so fed up of paying through the odds for a plain black tee’

We asked Luke what the brand meant to him and what it’s all about.  Luke explained that their main ethos is to “do things right” meaning that they would use fair trade materials, have fair priced goods for customers, and fair pay for their talented designers.

He went on to tell us how they came about the designs for their clothing: “Matt and I are hired two small time artists, commissioned them to produce some awesome pieces that actively challenge the way we think about society, and allow for more self-expression in your style. All designs have a story to them, whether it be the the ‘F**k Donald Trump’ Tee, or the Ovio 88mph Tee, each design has taken hours of work from artists who wouldn’t normally get the exposure they deserve.”

But what gave them the idea to start up the brand? He explained how his partner and himself were “so fed up of paying through the odds for a plain black tee with a small logo on, just because it’s big brand like Versace” so they decided to try and “shake things up a bit.”

‘The inks used in the printing process are also environmentally friendly’

We asked Luke more about his motives for creating the brand and he explained how his inspiration came from his job as a manager at a fine art gallery based in Liverpool. He told The Tab Lancaster: “Part of my job is deciding what art we want to sell, and every year I turn away hundreds of hopeful artists whose work just wouldn’t fit the gallery, or it’s a little too political, or a bit too disruptive to be on sale in a high street gallery.”

When we asked about the bespoke designs, he explained how the two artists he hired are “very urban and edgy” and he commissioned them to do “exactly what art they want to do”.

He told us about another reason he and Matt started the brand: “I study Human Geography, and Matt studies Environmental Science, so it was important for us both to produce a sustainable clothing brand, with eco-friendly business practices. Matt sourced 100 per cent heavy cotton tees, organically sourced, that we can DTG print our designs onto. The inks used in the printing process are also environmentally friendly.”

‘We started this because of the current graduate job market’

Luke told us about the influence from the current state of the graduate market, saying how “it’s no surprise that Covid has meant there are fewer graduate jobs available – so we’re shooting our shot.”

Luke’s positive approach to the experience really did come through when he went on to say, “If this works it will be awesome and we get to do what we love every day! If it doesn’t, we can look back on all the skills we have gained, such as web design, digital marketing, and accounting, and use those skills in our future job opportunities.”

When asked if there were any difficulties or challenges, he explained: “It has been difficult to balance this venture with our studies but we’re being clever about it: not rushing anything, taking our time and sharing responsibilities where we can.”

‘Our products are reasonably priced for the quality and craftsmanship’

So why should students buy the brand? Luke admitted that “It’s difficult to ‘sell’ you the product without describing each design – they really sell themselves”, but did go on to list a few reasons why he thinks students should buy the brand.

“Our products are reasonably priced (£17-£25) for the quality and craftsmanship – we haven’t compromised on anything. The materials in our t-shirts are the same as some Carhartt t-shirts, so they’re durable and extra comfortable.

“Moreover, it’s what we call ‘real creativity’; you pay for an intricate and detailed design by our talented team of artists. Behind each design is at least ten drafts, and over 100 man-hours.

“In addition, both Matt and I wanted a link to mental health in our clothing, which is why we are using icons that inspire us, and designs that make us feel good to promote mental health. Our name is a homage to mental health with the ‘CBT’ part in OvioCBT, meaning cognitive behaviour therapy.

“All of our t-shirts are available as unisex t-shirts and t-shirt dresses (extra thick with a larger design). Also, we are limited to 150 units for each design, after that we are commissioning a new design, meaning they have exclusivity to them.”

‘Matt is securing us a chance to pitch our work to John Lewis’

Luke explained how their team now consists of him and Matt as the two managing directors and their two artists. He told the Tab Lancaster that “neither artist has any formal training, but both are super talented, and this is their opportunity to publicize their work.”

He went on to say: “We are starting small, trying to iron out all the creases before we expand, but we’re exploring numerous avenues. Matt is securing us a chance to pitch our work to John Lewis and I already have some connections in the art world from managing the gallery. We are hoping that when shops open again, we can get into some independent stores involved.”

Luke reiterated that they are “always on the hunt for new artists who can offer that something special.” At the moment, they are looking for two portrait artists to support their upcoming ‘Icons’ range.

‘This collection will focus on cultural icons in many different branches of society’

Here’s the million dollar question: What’s next for OvioCBT? Luke told us: “Our upcoming line is our ‘Capella Clothing’ line, Capella meaning GOAT in Latin. This collection will focus on cultural icons in many different branches of society: Muhammad Ali, MalcomX, David Attenborough, are just a few names we are being inspired by.”

In addition, he said: “We can’t wait for the end of lockdown, just so we can get our name out there a bit more. We have a photoshoot in Liverpool booked and a podcast with ‘See You Down At The Front’ to celebrate the launch, and many more places to pitch our designs.”

Head over to OvioCBT to grab yourself one of these amazing t-shirts. Even a follow or a like could help support a small, student-run business and help promote sustainable fashion.

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