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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Oddli: the sustainable clothing brand embracing the inner child within all of us

One of the company’s founders, Jensen Neff, discusses how clothing can be ethically sourced and playfully vibrant 

 

By ANA BACH — arts@theaggie.org

 

Oddli is a sustainably sourced clothing brand co-created by Jensen Neff and Ellie Chen. The two decided to pursue this business venture while in their senior years at Stanford University after finding out just how much fabric goes to waste in the fashion industry.

“The initial idea for Oddli came after we were invited down together to shoot at Patagonia’s creative headquarters in Ventura,” Neff, who is the Creative Head of the brand, said. “After seeing the way that their business functioned, [while] simultaneously being at Stanford, watching girls overnight order (and me included) clothing pieces to wear for a formal the next day,” they were inspired to start their line.

Oddli’s clothing is mainly made up of leftover scrap fabric. There are roughly 14 million pounds of fabric left over every day in the clothing industry, and in creating a brand that recycles excess materials from larger fast fashion companies, Oddli creates clothing that actually contributes to the overall health of the planet. Each piece is made from a unique array of these fabrics, leaving each buyer with a special story of creation tied to their clothing.

Neff said that Stanford’s Capstone Project requirement provided the two with the necessary mentorship and encouragement they needed to move forward with their business venture.

“We started by tackling the waste issue in the industry,” Neff said. “We had gained an 8,000-person waitlist and did 50,000 [orders] in pre-order in one month. Then we said, ‘Let’s go test it for one year in Los Angeles.’ Now it has been two years and we just got our first full-time employee and office space.”

Neff said that the inspiration for the brand name came from a Shel Silverstein poem. “Falling Up” inspired the feeling that the two wanted for the brand.

“We wanted that feeling of falling up in a name,” Neff said. “I think the name couldn’t be more fitting.”

The brand releases a limited product line, which the founders say is meant to shift the culture that is charged with a constant need to endlessly produce new pieces to keep consumers interested. Oddli hopes buyers will treasure fewer pieces for a longer period of time.

Oddli’s products have been showcased on a handful of influencers’ TikTok and Instagram accounts. Neff stated that the best way to grow the brand has been through “intentional gifting.”

“I really look for people who have creative passions [and those] who have small businesses or are building platforms around something,” Neff said. “Gifting-wise, I choose what I think they would like.”

Still, in the early stages of brand building, Oddli is looking to grow an even bigger sustainable business. While other companies in the fashion industry aim to grow the product line physically by constantly producing new items, Oddli is looking to resourcefully takes what has already been put into the material world and spin it into something new.

“I believe that the world needs Oddli,” Neff said. “The vision overall is to become what will be Gen-Z’s ethical clothing brand, and what would be the replacement for Urban Outfitters or Brandy Melville. I will do anything it takes to get there and I think the way that we market is going to shift, especially in this next year.”

In addition to prioritizing sustainability, Oddli also sets itself apart by prioritizing connecting with buyers. Neff emphasized the impact that brands have on shaping our identities.

“The way that a brand could help me define myself and stand for my values was unmatched,” Neff said. “One of my favorite things that we have been hearing a ton with Oddli is that anytime someone wears it and someone else comes up to them, I think they automatically feel a connection as well as an overall kindness. I hope that Oddli stands for not taking ourselves too seriously while also feeling cool and sexy and any of those things that we want to be.”

Neff spoke about where she sees the brand going within the next year.

“The goal for this year is growth,” Neff said. “We really want it to be the year where Oddli reaches so many more eyes […] I am just in love with the world we are building. I want more people to be a part of it.”

 

Written by: Ana Bach — arts@theaggie.org