Designer Q&A, Oil and Water

The autumn season is quickly approaching and brings with it longer days, cooler evenings and, for many of us, rainy weather! Oil & Water offers the perfect combination of style, comfort and practicality in their stunning collection of rainwear for girls. Featuring pretty pastels, lovely prints and cozy inner liners, these fashionable jackets will have your little girl wishing for rain clouds!

We were first introduced to Oil & Water in 2013 and the brand has wasted no time stealing our hearts at the ENK Children’s Club trade show and on the runway, showcasing their first collection at petiteParade in NYC last year.

We caught up with designer Amy Wismar and asked her all our questions about the inspiration behind Oil & Water!

oil and water_2014_2999re1. How did the name Oil & Water originate?
My first inspiration for the name ‘Oil & Water’ came from my love of vintage printed Oil Cloth.  I would buy rolls of it for projects.  The shiny coated fabric in bright colours was the inspiration behind me making rainwear! There is also of course the literal meaning, Oil is a natural water repellant, so the old adage Oil & Water don’t mix came to mind right away. I had the name and brand idea before I had a garment finished. The print lining inside the coats represents Oil & Water- oil drops and raindrops in a scattered pattern.

2. Why did you choose to design for children?
I was never excited about the waterproof/rainwear items when shopping for my girls. They seemed either standard issue, too juvenile, or short-lived because they were plastic that couldn’t be washed. The lack of durable, stylish options helped me develop the idea of carving a new niche in rainwear- a coat that could be worn in a downpour and/or even snow, but also coordinate fashionably with what my girls were wearing and would last season after season.

Also, launching a children’s brand seemed like a smaller mountain to climb, but it was actually quite the opposite. Regulations on childrenswear are quite strict, and price points are more sensitive. I wanted to achieve something more fun and playful than I could do with adults. However, adult rainwear does peak my interest- maybe someday!

oil and water_2014_37re3. What is your brand’s mission statement or purpose?
My brand’s mission is to be the outer/rainwear staple in a girl’s closet that is weather-ready, fashionable and well made.  My tags all say ‘Outerwear should be as stylish and sophisticated as the clothes underneath’ – that is our motto. Our coats enhance a girl’s outfit with stylish options for many occasions and tastes and are stylish and functional to wear in any weather, rain or shine.

4. What are the inspirations or motivations behind your design?  Is there a style decade that you are inspired by?
I have been and always will be inspired by the ’60s and the fashion icons of the time. Classic, chic, clean lines and bold use of colour. Classic cuts with a modern aesthetic and attention to detail in every place you look on the garment. I think that is what is unique in an Oil & Water jacket, the eye-catching attention to detail.  They are simultaneously artful and functional.

The attention to detail is also my motivation.  When designing with these waterproof and water resistant fabrics, most will tell you ‘no, that shouldn’t be done. That will be too hard to sew, people won’t notice that detail in a raincoat.’ But I never accept the word ‘no’ in the design stages. Its important that with each new season, we push the limits of what has been done! That is my motivation.

oil and water_2014_180re5. What do you have coming up in the future involving your brand that you are excited about?
For Spring ’15, I collaborated with New York designer Tawfik Mounayer to hand-paint the prints for our Spring Collection. Tawfik has his own women’s wear line, ‘Tribune Standard’ for which he hand paints his own prints and that really inspired the idea to approach him.  He’s designed for Isaac Mizrahi and many other American brands.   I have tremendous respect for him and it was a thrill to work with someone so admired in the industry.  He has also never done anything for childrenswear, which was even more exciting. These prints of Tawfik’s are truly unique.

We are also excited about our rapid expanse across boutiques in the U.S. and although it is just the start of our second year as of October, we just entered the UK/European market. We have had a wonderful response in the UK. And lastly, our next venture… boys! Coming up in fall ’15.

6. Which is your favourite piece from your collection right now?
My favourite piece in the Spring ’15 collection is the ‘Dahlia Button Coat;’ this piece was inspired by vintage coats worn by style icons Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O. We added our signature Oil & Water modern touches, waterproof fabrics, and soft painted floral accents and ended up with what I think is truly a wearable piece of art…a painting that won’t melt in the rain!

Discover Oil and Water designs for your little one and shop their collection online by visiting their website

Join us on our Social Media pages for a special Designer Q&A Giveaway Sept 3-9!


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