Founded in March 2016, Oddly Normal began life as a menswear label specialising in printed textiles before morphing into a unisex streetwear label due to popular demand.
Here, founder Shona Blair chats Oddly Normal‘s development over the past year, where she gets her inspirations from and what plans she has in store for 2017.
My name is Shona Blair, I’m 23 years old. I am the founder and designer of the unisex streetwear clothing brand, Oddly Normal.
How did you get involved in your current career?
Having studied an HND in Fashion & Textiles at Glasgow Clyde College in 2010 and then pursuing it further at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, I graduated with my BA (Hons) degree in July 2015.
I knew throughout my studies that I wanted to run my own label in the future and undertook various work placements inside and outside of uni. I had the amazing opportunity to work for Glasgow brands like Obscure Couture and Ill Fortune, in order to gain more invaluable experience of the industry.
Did you always want to work in the creative industries?
I have always been a creative person. I used to do a little bit of acting when I was younger and then got a lot more interested in fashion and illustration after doing my Higher Art in 5th year at school. I knew when I reached 6th year that I wanted to pursue a career in Fashion & Textile Design.
Going to college first was the best thing for me if I’m honest as it taught me loads of skills I still use today when designing.
Whose work inspires you?
I love a little bit of everything to be honest. I get quite a lot of inspiration from photography and everyday people and situations. A lot of my designs at the moment feature people rather than objects.
I like Fantastic Ted – always manage to get inspiration from that. Tim Walker’s photography is very inspiring too. I also love Alexander McQueen, Moschino and brands like Lazy Oaf and Unif if we’re talking fashion.
Gritty things such a neds, homeless people, gang culture and things that wouldn’t seem aesthetically pleasing to some people, seem to fuel me more.
Describe the ethos behind Oddly Normal.
Oddly Normal is a reflection on myself I would say. I wanted to create a brand that I would actually wear and something that is suitable for all genders.
I started the brand in March of this year and decided to go with screen-printed t-shirts to test what designs people liked the most. Tees seemed best because people always need them and you can dress them up or down depending on your styling approach.
The current ready-to-wear tees feature quirky hand drawn illustrations which you wouldn’t usually find on clothing. I also design one-off more luxurious items featuring my screen prints with added embellishments for customers that want to make a big impression or statement. The Oddly Normal aim is to provide something for everyone!
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Highlights so far have been taking part in the Teenage Cancer Trust Fashion Show for Glasgow University. Also, being part of an exhibition for Friends of the Fanzine and running my own website successfully.
Having a customer following and an actual physical brand after years of imagining it feel extremely rewarding too. When people buy the items and show an interest in the brand it makes all my efforts worthwhile. I’m really excited to see what 2017 has in store!
What advice would you give to those who want to get involved in the fashion and design industry?
The best advice I can give is just to work hard at it and take on as much work experience and work placements as you can. Also, if you have the facilities to be creative regularly, either at college or uni, make the most of them.
I was fortunate enough to be part of the Incubator programme at Glasgow Clyde College when starting up the brand which helped so much. Another bit of useful advice would be to research what help is available out there for you.
What other creatives work do you have your eye on at the moment?
I love Ryan Cowie, Jimmy Nicols and Neon Ninja. As I know the owners personally, it’s great to see them do so well. If you haven’t seen them you should check them out – all of the brands are totally different!
What have you got planned for the next few months?
At the moment I’m keeping up with t-shirt orders as well as making one-off pieces to sell to customers. I also have a few shoot ideas planned too and will also be selling some Oddly Normal beanies for the winter season. Perfect for a wee stocking filler!
There are plans for an Oddly Normal exhibition and launch night happening near the start of next year too. I’m also very keen to do some more collaborations next year and see how the brand develops with time!