From The Heart: Embracing Slow Fashion with Osha's Vibrant Designs

Through her label, Bilboa, Osha Shealey creates colourful and unique garments with a slower approach to fashion and design.

Osha in her studio, where she hand-makes her unique and colourful pieces.

Byron Bay-based designer, Osha Shealey doesn’t shy away from colour. Her home and personal outfits are filled with all the colours of the rainbow. “I grew up in very colourful households. My father is a musician from New York and has a wonderful fashion sense and love of colour. One time he couldn’t decide whether to buy a purple or orange velvet suit, so he got both! He would say to me ‘so many people are scared of colour so when you find something fabulous, just get it’.” This colourful upbringing shines through in Osha’s garments for her label, Bilboa, where she combines bright fabrics with her own custom prints.

“I have always loved to be surrounded by colour. I feel most confident when wearing bright outfits and love to incorporate it into every facet of my days.”

Osha sewing her new range, wearing the colour Sunflower

Trained as a seamstress and costume maker, Osha started Bilboa in 2015 as a made-to-order collection of garments from deadstock fabric (fabric no longer wanted by other labels and destined for landfill). “As someone who doesn’t often fit standard sizing myself, I struggled to find custom sized pieces that were created ethically, and more exciting than the usual sustainable basics.” she said. “At the time I was working full-time making costumes in theatre and film, which is all about bespoke, and I came across a huge source of dead-stock fabrics, so it felt like a sign to start creating collections!”

Osha standing in front of her studio in Byron Bay

With a dedication to reducing waste and sustainable fabric sourcing, it was a faulty roll of deadstock fabric which first inspired Osha to add custom prints to her range. “My first batch of screen printing was inspired by a roll of deadstock fabric that had slight marks down the length of it. I couldn’t stand the idea of it going to waste so I designed a print that incorporated the marks and loved the results!” Bilboa customers have the option to add a choice of Osha’s print designs to any of her fabric bases, creating uniquely individual garments.

“I would love to see more fashion brands offering a made-to-order model and using sustainable fabrics.”

Osha in her colourful home and tropical garden, wearing the colour Sunflower

In an industry that revolves around seasonal collections and the latest trends, Osha consciously commits to a slower approach to fashion and business. “When I started working on Bilboa full time I decided I wanted to focus on a better lifestyle balance. I’d done the fast-paced grind for years working in costume, so when I decided to move back home to Byron, it was with the aim to slow things down” she explains. “I remind myself that I’m not trying to encourage a fast-paced consumerism, so I don’t try to compete with brands that do. Offering made-to-order and bespoke ranges really keeps me in the moment and I can only make so much in a day.”

Keeping with this slow ethos, Osha encourages customers to see quality over quantity and to take care of their clothes. “Look at the garment labels and only buy pieces with natural or recycled fibres. Wash them correctly and repair them when needed. They’ll last so much longer if you do.”

Osha posing in front of her Queenslander home in Byron Bay.

“I’m a huge advocate for people learning to sew again. It allows you to repurpose things or make them fit you better which in turn will mean you wear them more.”

And when it comes to colour, Osha has a few tips. “Don’t be scared of colour. Sometimes the more mismatched you think it might be, the better!” She suggests choosing a colour scheme like all pastels, or warm or cool colours. “That way you’ll have lots of complementary pieces, to mix and match. It is also great for creating a sustainable wardrobe as you are more likely to rotate those pieces in different outfits.”

“I personally love to double down and make an outfit of all the one colour or shades of one. And if you’re more of a basics person, start with a neutral base and add colour with accessories, then go from there.”

Explore Osha’s colourful creations on the Bilboa Website and Instagram

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