handcrafted in Shanghai, these clothes are changing the history of what’s Made in China
During a rare window of free time in between shows at NYFW SS23, Katya suggested we visit Bobblehaus’s new flagship store on Orchard Street. The store opening had flown under the radar amid all the Fashion Week craziness, but when we walked through the giant glass doors, it quickly became clear that we’d found fashion at its best. Co-owned and operated by founder Ophelia Chen and designer Abi Lierheimer, the brand describes itself as one created by Gen-Z, for Gen-Z, and stands at the crossroads of all the good things that young designers are doing. Sustainable, stylish, and genderless, the clothes take on a quality as playful as the name on the label. We got the chance to chat with Abi and Ophelia – here’s what we learned, and why we’ll be going back very, very soon.
First of all, we had to ask about the name. Ophelia explained it was inspired by two things – bobble-heads and Bauhaus. To the latter, they wanted their brand to be a collective – a space for creatives with new visions to come together and make change in the fashion landscape, much like the forward thinking artists of 1920s Germany did in their time for architecture. Bobble-heads, on the other hand, are a more current reference, nodding to the K-pop hit Double Bobble. The fusion of funky contemporary with the OG avant-garde movement is apt for the label, whose clothes reflect this playful conviction.
The garments are the pinnacle of dopamine dressing. Neon greens, fluorescent pinks and intense orange hues dominate the racks across the store (also very orange). Abi reveals that this is a by-product of their fabric sourcing methods – because much of the inventory is sourced from deadstock, bright colors are usually what’s available. The blacks, whites, and other neutrals tend to go more quickly, leaving Bobblehaus the rejects – you know, those textiles that make us smile when we put them on. What a shame!
While deadstock serotonin styles make up a significant part of the collection, Bobblehaus also features knitwear (see the green sweats on Abi – we’re obsessed) and their own signature fabric, Tencel. A silky looking material made from recycled wood chips, Tencel is not only totally sustainable but also drapes beautifully, making it the perfect choice for creating elegant genderless silhouettes.
Their commitment to ungendered fashion stems from an annoyance at the fashion industry’s preoccupation with dressing women in tight-fitting garments. Rather than conforming to the uncomfortable status quo, these women wanted to create a line that would allow them to dress how they wanted to feel – both literally and figuratively. While a lot of us have resorted to wearing men’s clothing, simply because we prefer the fit, we all know that they don’t, in fact, fit. The fabric choices and detailed tailoring have fixed this bug, so that the collection evokes a sort of sleek, slouchy vibe.
The flagship opening comes after a series of successful pop-ups since the two joined forces in 2019. Since day one, Chen and Lierheimer have been guided by a give-what-we-take philosophy, which they’ve realized through their work with One Tree Planted. For every garment the two have ever sold, they’ve donated ten trees to be planted through OTP, and to date have planted over 7000 trees. Can you imagine how many trees would be in the world if all designers did this? We need more Ophelias and Abis – and also, we would really like more of their clothes in our closets.