Q&A with Ethical Clothing Brand OTSO

This week I have teamed up with UK based clothing brand Otso to get to know them a little better. I had the pleasure of trying out a few pieces and also had a chat with Simon (founder) about Otso and the brands ethical qualities.

Simon also had a few questions for me – so I have included them at the bottom of the blog!IMG_02195 questions from me to Otso

So who is Otso and can I meet your team? 

Otso is our pet bear!  – No he’s not really – bears should be roaming free in the forests being all majestic, grizzly and wild. It’s this idea that drew us towards having a bear as our mascot for our nordic inspired fashion label. Hence the bears face hidden in our logo. Our team is very small at the moment – It consists of me; a graphic designer and founder of the company, and then some very nice people at Huddersfield Screen Print who hand screen each of our tees, a lady called Amanda who does our sewing and another local company who help us out with embroidery. Then there’s all of our arty friends who have pitched in since we started to help create new designs and my very awesome girlfriend who helps me keep my chin up when things don’t always go to plan.

unnamedx

This is Simon – founder of Otso and graphic designer

How did you create your brand name and tag line? Otso sounds very contemporary and ‘The Spirit of the Bear’ feels old, wise and traditional – I really like it! 

It’s funny you should say that as that really sums up what we wanted to achieve with the look and feel of the label. We searched high and low for a short and rememberable name that sounded like it could fit a modern clean street wear brand but also have a rugged heritage edge to it. Otso is a Finnish word and means the ‘spirit of the bear’ in their folklore.  He’s the king of the forest – a friend, brother and forest cousin. I wanted to create a street wear label that was contemporary enough to wear out in the city but heavily influenced by the great outdoors and in keeping with all the pursuits my friends and I enjoy like mountain biking, camping and climbing.

I found Otso in a search for ethically made clothing – was this part of your initial concept or did it develop later in the design process? 

At first I just wanted to create an outlet for my personal design work that would allow me to be more creative and less governed by my corporate graphic design clients. This moved on to getting my friends to design spirit of the bear influenced tees. In the process of finding a really good quality tee to have the designs printed on I discovered some that were ‘fair wear’ ethically made.We started with the tees and gradually expanded our range with other ethically made garments as we developed our understanding of the fashion industry.  I felt using these would complete the picture of having a nature inspired brand that used garments that were also more environmentally minded.

So I know your clothing is ethically made – can you explain what this really means and why it is important?

All of our clothes are ether manufactured in association with the ‘Fair Wear” foundation or can show they have a commitment to excellent working practices for the people who manufacture them. Theses movements became much more prevalent after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 where over a thousand people were killed. It is considered the deadliest structural failure accident in modern human history.

The Fair Wear Foundation commitment makes sure among other things that the people working in the garment industry get paid properly, there’s no child labour and they get to work in a safe environment.

Since starting Otso we have also used our social media channels to raise awareness on other environmental issues and have made most of our packaging plastic free.

We feel its important to try and build a better planet for the future and not add to its destruction – it’s also important to try and get people who otherwise might not know or care about such issues to start taking note. In my experience ethically made clothing used to be aimed solely at certain, lets say hippy types but now it’s becoming much more main stream we can create garments that are more of the now without jeopardising the people and our planet along the way.

Sum up Otso in three words… 

Creative, Contemporary, Conscious  – they all begin with C for extra points!

Otso also had a few questions for me… 

I see you live in Glasgow which is a large city – how does this work with your love of nature and passion for outdoor activities?

 I do – and I love it! I grew up in rural Scotland and moved to Glasgow when I started uni at 17. I was absolutely petrified and panicked so much about being separated from the outdoor lifestyle I had at home. But Glasgow has heaps to offer for the adventurous type – lots of climbing gyms, indoor skiing, and a wake park in the city centre. But most importantly, Glasgow is in the perfect location for someone who likes both rural and city life. It takes me less than an hour to be surrounded by hills and lochs in The Trossachs, Glen Coe’s mountain range is less than two hours from me… and the list goes on. So the west coast (the best coast) and the highlands are very accessible from this fine city!
IMG_0210

 

You look to have travelled far and wide – Is there a special place you love to visit time and again, if so why?

Hopefully it’s not too dull to choose somewhere in Scotland, but my favourite place to revisit is always Tiree. It’s a small island in the Inner Hebrides known as the ‘Hawaii of the North.’ Tiree is a paradise of white sandy beaches with incredible surf – I have made some amazing memories there over the years. I’m actually heading there very early tomorrow morning!

You look really cool in our Otso wears – They’re aimed at blokes traditionally but we’re happy for anyone to wear them. Do you feel the divide between the genders is closing up these days or even really exists anymore? 

Thank you! You know, I hadn’t even considered that you were aimed at guys when I first looked at the website. I just really liked the designs. I think there is certainly still a divide in gender stereotyping – especially for children’s clothing (the pink and blue thing). But there have been some interesting movements towards closing that gap recently which I am all for. Personally I choose clothes that I want to wear, if they are aimed at blokes I am not put off buying them. The only time I do find this a problem is when brands (particularly outdoor brands) have a tendency to make female clothing in typically ‘girly’ colours – pink, purple – and I always prefer the male colour choice; for jackets and things that need to fit to be functional I can’t always get away with the male sizes. But hey – that doesn’t apply to you guys!

What does the term ethical fashion mean to you and is it something you actively seek out when making clothing choices?

Absolutely yes – as I’ve gotten older I have grown to understand the importance of buying clothes that are made ethically and in good quality. I hate waste, and when buying clothes I am careful to buy less for more in the hope that it will last me for years. I want to know products I am buying are being made in a safe working environment and employees are being paid correctly.

IMG_0219

Are there many ethical fashion brands that you know and like or are there still lots of room for more?

Room for more – yes! I am also really happy to see existing brands like ASOS, Levi and Zara all producing specific clothing labelled as recycled or ethically made. I can only hope more high street brands follow on. One of my favourites is Finisterre who design functional and sustainable outdoor products. I’ve also recently come across some great sustainable & ethical swimwear brands that I am itching to try – Davy Js, Salt Gypsy and Bower Swimwear.

Keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Discover Radisson RED Glasgow

Radisson RED is the latest hotel to pop up in Glasgow and it is located in my favourite/most trendy part of town. I was so intrigued by the way Radisson have designed and marketed this chain of hotels I was itching to take a look around… further than the skybar (which I have visited a few times). The idea around this revolutionary hotel is to demolish the rigid rules and stuffiness that we are all too familiar with when booking accommodation. Strict check out times? Rubbish wi-fi? Annoying key systems? Naff decor? Slow check in process? Well, after a night at Radisson RED I can confirm they have achieved to abolish ALL of that, and more. IMG_8297Radisson is really tapping into popular millennial culture here – they’ve focused purely on a concept to attract young adults and I think they have succeeded in creating something that is bold, creative and functional. Everything just works – there is no faffing, no fussing and I think that’s what we really expect from a contemporary brand promoting versatility. IMG_8591The most popular aspect of this hotel for locals has been the skybar, I’ve seen it popping up on Instagram stories each and everyday. Especially with recent glorious weather, the outdoor rooftop area has been a buzz of excitement for Glasgow – something we have needed for sometime. West facing, the skybar has incredible sunsets most evenings – overlooking the Clyde, the Finniston Cran and Glasgow’s most popular music venues, the Hydro and the SECC. So this hotel is also more than ideal if you’re visiting Glasgow for a concert or event at these venues. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetMy room was a corner suite located on the 6th floor, and if anyone was watching my Instagram on Thursday you probably experienced my sheer excitement over the skyline views from the MASSIVE dual aspect windows. There was so much space, it felt more like a studio flat than a hotel room. The decor was contemporary, functional and minimal… but bright and super comfortable and clean. I read online that Radisson RED have an ‘anti-beige’ policy, which made me laugh but it’s very true. You won’t find any brown or beige in this hotel, every corner is popping with colour and artwork. IMG_8279

Location

Located in Glasgow’s West End adjacent to the SSE Hydro, SEC Armadillo and SEC Centre and only a 15 minute walk from the city centre. The hotel is also a short 5 minute walk to Finnieston (Argyll st) where you can find some of Glasgow’s best restaurants. Some of my favourites on this street are, The Gannet, The Finnieston, Six by Nico, Rioja, and Alchemilla. Along with some great bars such as – Lebowskis, Kelvingrove Cafe, Rioja (also a lovely bar), and my favourite pubs – The Ben Nevis, The Islay Inn and The Park Bar! IMG_8293

Room

Simple, contemporary, spacious and extremely comfortable. The bed in my room was at least king size, and fitted with the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. I was blown away by the panoramic views and the laid back atmosphere this room created – somewhere I would actually like to hang out and have a few drinks with friends. I had a 55″ TV and Soundbar that streamed from my phone or laptop which meant I easily linked up my Netflix account. We had a BYOB fridge, which I absolutely loved – so I knew I didn’t have to sneakily smuggle a bottle of prosecco into my room. Bright and snazzy bathroom – everything was clean, everything worked, zero complaints! IMG_8103_Facetune_20-07-2018-16-52-17img_8581.jpgimg_8460_facetune_20-07-2018-16-53-13.jpgSide note – these gorgeous PJs were the cherry on top to my perfect night away. They are from Scottish luxury sleepwear brand feleil, and are made with the softest satin i’ve ever felt. Perfect for silking around your hotel room in! Topaz blue pyjama set

Facilities

RED fitness – we used the gym in the morning post breakfast – which was totally fine since check out wasn’t until midday. I usually expect hotel gyms to be basic, and although being a fairly small space the RED fitness gym was well equiped and had everything I needed for a quick hitt first thing.

IMG_8697IMG_8695RED skybar – As I said before, I’ve been to the skybar a handful of times and I love the space. There is an indoor and outdoor area, both with skyline and river views to watch the sunset at night. They have a great cocktail menu and snacks from the OUIbar, so an ideal place to come for pre drinks or nightcaps. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetEvents and games studio – we didn’t use these spaces, but they did look really inviting and comfortable. If only we had time for a few games of foosball!

OUIbar & KTCHN – this is a pretty relaxed space on the ground floor, they have a kind of canteen cafe vibe where you can drink cocktails and have a few games of pool. We didn’t eat here in the evening, but had breakfast the next day which had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee. IMG_8591IMG_8594

Special features

Radisson RED have developed an app to basically take care of you throughout your stay. It means your phone becomes your room key, you can request anything you like, food, drinks, an extra pillow… and read all the information about your stay via their app.

Cleanliness

Nothing to say other than the place was immaculate!

Service

Radisson RED pride themselves on being pretty chilled, and they absolutely are. Im sure most of us have experience the mad hotel rush to get to breakfast in time and then out the door before check out… Radisson RED are already on top of that with relaxed breakfast times, and a late (12pm) check out. We were even able to extent our check out time to 1pm without hesitation.

Any complaints?

My only criticism (and it’s a small one), is that the bar service at the Skybar that evening was exceptionally slow. I wanted to grab a cocktail before heading out to an event, but after 15 minutes I decided I would be better to leave it and have drinks later that night. With it being such a new hotel I assume that the speed of service will only improve every day.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Glasgow.

Thanks for reading

Rona x