Olivia Rubens is a positive knitwear womenswear designer and sustainability and sourcing consultant based in London, England. Rubens not only works to do no harm to the planet and its people through design, but aims to create a positive impact through design and material innovation and social justice initiatives.
Having been bullied in her youth, Rubens overcame many obstacles to unapologetically become who she is today. For every person who told her they didn't like the way she looked, or that nobody would ever like her, she was herself even more to the Nth degree. Rubens stands for every womxn who has battled their way to the boardrooms, to running their own studio, to standing their ground and believing in the truth of their path and their fate.
Meant to prod and poke at human nature and popular culture, Olivia Rubens’s collections can often solicit the raising of an eyebrow or two, and are meant to be eerily and playfully thought-provoking. This is how her eccentric play on knitwear comes to light, through entertaining and often unorthodox forms of research. Rubens enjoys bringing issues and common modern human traits to light through dark humour because this is often how we deal with our hardships, and how we begin to have real and impactful conversations about key issues that we may not even realize exist in our daily lives. This is how Rubens also approaches her initiatives in the realm of social justice, working to help womxn, children and community in both Canada and in England.
Olivia Rubens’s work is also ingrained within environmental sustainability. Every material and trim used is certified organic, recycled, ethical and/or traceable, and she utilizes a number of collaborations to make sure her ethos comes full circle in her design process. Rubens works with a natural dyer in Ireland and a local London yarn spinner, local production in London and surrounding areas, and manufacturing with Manusa, a knit manufacturer in Pistoia, Italy, who employs skilled African refugees and women with fragilities. Research into sustainable and local forms of production, as well as into sustainable sourcing has led to a large pool of knowledge in this area regarding materials and certifications, and Rubens aims to help other brands make a less harmful impact on the planet through consultancy and collaboration.
Olivia Rubens grew up in Ottawa, ON, a small city in Canada with access to much of what the outdoors in all seasons has to offer, which is where her dedication within sustainability grew. She obtained her BA in Fashion Design from Ryerson University in 2015, worked within industry in Canada until 2018, when she moved to London to pursue her MA in Fashion Design Technology Womenswear at the London College of Fashion, which she obtained in earlier 2020, participating in the press show at the Camden Roundhouse for AW20 at London Fashion Week. She has placed in a number of competitions, this past year winning second prize in a Powerpuff Girls competition (see ‘special projects’), and has been featured in Elle Canada, S/ Magazine, Fashion Magazine, Vogue UK Runway and on Daily Vice, to name a few. She now works on growing her self-titled brand out of East London, consulting and teaching part-time, and is grateful to be supported as a Fellow within the Suzanne Rogers Fashion Institute since 2018.