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June 2016
1970’s ‘Crochet look’ a big hit with Kiwi Mums

It’s often said that “fashion is cyclical” – and for Kiwi blanket designer Jane Blakey, it’s the crochet look of the 1970s that has made her newest Honeycomb blanket design a big hit with the Kiwi mums who form her loyal customer base at Lou & Olly.

Designed to be a contemporary take on the iconic Honeycomb weaves of old, the new blanket still strikes a nostalgic note with Kiwi mums. Similar to the crochet look that was very popular in the 1970s, it reminds many mothers of the blankets they had themselves growing up.

Where this Lou & Olly blanket differs is in the raw materials. Those 1970s blankets were normally made from good old Romney sheep’s wool, which is great for making carpet but can be very itchy on the skin, especially for children. Lou & Olly have had the benefit of using 100% pure Merino wool since the company was founded in 2008. Known as “nature’s wonder-fibre”, the high-country Merino sheep’s wool makes blankets with the Holy Trinity of comfort: warmth, breathability and lightness.

The Honeycomb blanket is generously sized, its 95cm by 100cm span making it versatile for the cot,
the pram or the bassinet. From an aesthetic point of view, the new Honeycomb blanket is available in Natural or Grey, colours achieved by the environmentally friendly Eco-Dying process. Conforming to
the international textile standard, Oeko-Tex 100, the dyes avoid all chemicals that can cause irritation, preserving Merino’s peerless softness on the skin.

Honeycomb is the newest addition to Lou & Olly’s range, which has recently been endorsed with an exclusive design deal at NZ’s most iconic department store, Smith & Caughey’s.  

 

May 2016
Kiwi merino blanket designer buoyed by exclusive Smith & Caughey’s partnership


An exclusive design deal with iconic department store Smith & Caughey’s marks an exciting coming of age for rapidly growing Kiwi textile design business, Lou & Olly.

At the end of May, Smith & Caughey’s will launch a new vintage merino children’s blanket, designed exclusively for the upmarket retailer by Lou & Olly. Crafted to mimic the styles of yesteryear, the blanket will be known as the “Heirloom Vintage Shawl”, a nod to the enduring quality of merino wool blankets that allows them to be handed from sibling to sibling, and even from one generation to the next.

Made from 100% eco dyed pure merino wool, the low-allergy blanket is soft on the skin, very breathable and designed and made right here in NZ.    

Lou & Olly founder and designer Jane Blakey admits to being humbled by the endorsement, but sees the premium nature of Smith & Caughey’s range as a natural fit for her brand.

“When I started Lou & Olly from home in 2008, I had one simple goal: to design and create blankets from the finest natural materials that were gentle on children’s skin. With my labour-intensive design and knitting process, they were always going to be aimed at discerning buyers, so it’s exciting to partner with a retailer as respected as Smith & Caughey’s”, says Blakey.

The Heirloom Vintage Shawl is a unique addition to Smith & Caughey’s range of children’s bedding, a generous 90 by 1 metre blanket with a high quality weave that’s well suited as a celebration blanket for events like christenings.  Available in natural wool colour, it will only be available through Smith & Caughey’s  Auckland department store and online at www.smithandcaugheys.co.nz.           

 

NOVEMBER 2014
A Mother’s Guide to Choosing a Blanket

A blanket is a blanket is a blanket, right? Well, not exactly…
They come in a variety of different materials and designs – from cotton to fleece, from crocheted to knitted reversible – and like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for.

Someone who knows  reversible blankets inside out (if you’ll excuse the pun) is Lou & Olly founder Jane Blakey. Her company specialises in the design and knitting of blankets using Merino wool and Organic Cotton –  both materials chosen for being hypoallergenic, breathable, fire resistant and extremely low irritation.  Lou & Olly blankets go further to achieve the finest finish by using internationally certified Eco-Dyes to produce their vintage designs.

Jane Blakey personally loves working with 100% pure Merino wool, a fibre she’s used to great effect in her latest range of reversible blankets.

“At Lou & Olly, we refer to Merino as nature’s wonder fibre. The sheep’s high country lifestyle produces incredibly versatile wool that breathes during the hot dry summers and insulates in the sub-zero winters. When spun into a blanket these advantages are conferred to your child – it’s phenomenal.”

Lou & Olly’s new range of reversible blankets come in two timeless designs –  ‘Stripes’ and ‘Stars’ – both of which are equally well suited to the nursery or the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of a toddler.  The 95 x 115cm format is the perfect size for the cot, bassinet or stroller and the reversibility provides both aesthetic scope for bedrooms as well as giving parents a little more time between washes!
 
Merino also has a rare combination of fineness and durability, so Lou & Olly blankets can be handed down from child to child and even generation to generation. When deciding on a Merino blanket, it’s important to know that the lower the micron level, the finer the fabric. While most Merino wool is finer than 24 microns, the fibre Jane uses in her Stars and Stripes blankets is 19.5 Microns, categorized as Super Soft for optimal comfort.

Mothers around the world seem to be taking to Merino wool in a big way, as shown by the overwhelming demand for Lou & Olly’s blankets. Due to the bespoke knitting process, Jane is finding it hard to keep up with demand – which is why the new Stripes and Stars range of blankets are only available online for the moment at www.louandolly.com 
 

July 2012
Kiwi children’s brand is all grown up

New designs and green production values have seen local Merino blanket designer Lou & Olly making headway in overseas markets
 
Whether it’s a symptom or the cause of the company’s expansion into overseas markets, the latest Lou & Olly designs seem to have a distinctly European feel to them.
 
Lou & Olly has made its name rapidly in the New Zealand domestic market by designing and manufacturing high-quality merino and cotton baby blankets. The merino blankets have been particularly well received, since merino wool has very fine fibres that don’t irritate the sensitive skin of infants. The company went a step further in 2010 by introducing Eco Dyes that limit the use of chemicals used in the dying process, conforming to the stringent international textile standard Oeko Tex 100. The combination was great for their business – the purity of merino wool plus the attention to detail of the international standard did wonders for their sales both in New Zealand and overseas.
 
Lou & Olly founder Jane Blakey has received interest from Europe but the New Zealand market is still front of mind. “New Zealanders are aware of the benefits of merino wool, through the success of companies like Icebreaker. The most heartening thing for me personally is seeing how much Kiwi mums enjoy our blankets. Sales have far exceeded our expectations and we’ve now got nationwide distribution, which is great,” says Blakey.
 
One of the keys to building the Lou & Olly brand so quickly has been the distinctive colour palette of their blankets and the two latest additions are Cornflower and Mint. Cornflower is similar to duck egg blue, giving the blankets a Provencal look that works particularly well with browns and beige's, common neutral colours in nurseries. Mint green has been identified by psychologists and designers as having a calming effect on people, which is great for both mother and child. The new colours are available in both classic and contemporary weaves and retain the key benefits of merino wool such as breathability and soft fibres. 
 
About Lou & Olly
 
Jane Blakey founded Lou & Olly in July 2008, in Auckland, New Zealand.  She named the company after her affectionate nicknames for her two small daughters, Brooke Lucy and Olivia (Lou & Olly).
 
Jane has designed every item in the Lou & Olly range with Brooke and Olivia in mind (and usually on hand too).  The finished products are testament to her meticulous research and testing as well as the flexibility and purity of 100% merino wool.
 


May 2011  
Old is new again – the love affair with vintage designs continues.


They say fashion is cyclical, and right now there’s a definite trend towards vintage designs, especially in winter collections. Designers and consumers love the familiarity and warmth of vintage techniques like hand-woven patterns, which when combined with modern manufacturing techniques achieve a perfect balance between form and function. 
 
Luxury children’s brand Lou & Olly has just released a 1950’s Vintage Baby Blanket, the latest in a line of high-end merino and cotton comforters. The blanket is available in generous cot size and is based on a 1950’s baby bonnet that designer and owner Jane Blakey came across in an op shop. “The bonnet had those lovely hand-knitted details you just don’t see anymore. I was immediately inspired and saw the potential to use eco-dyed merino wool in a similar way,” says Jane.
 
Vintage design is nothing new to Lou & Olly – their current Vintage Blanket is their biggest selling item – and Jane Blakey saw the potential for further growth in the category. The company continues their focus on beautiful, tactile blankets that are irritant-free through the use of merino and combed cotton. This latest Vintage Blanket is eco-dyed using dyes that conform to the notoriously stringent Oeko Tex 100 standard, which restricts the use of harmful chemicals. The company understands that impurities have no place next to a child’s skin.    
 
This commitment to beautiful design and innovative products sums Lou & Olly up well as a company.
 
“It is our ultimate goal to design a vintage blanket that gives that lovely familiar impression of being a hand-me-down, while having all the benefits of a new product. We pay so much attention to the weave quality that mothers can easily keep the blankets for many years so their child’s younger brothers and sisters can enjoy them too.”
 



October 2010

Eco-dyes and combed cotton the way forward for childrenswear

Auckland, NZ –Boutique childrenswear producer Lou & Olly has introduced a new range of combed cotton baby blankets designed to minimise irritation on the extremely sensitive skin of infants.
 
Combed cotton is a strong, smooth variant of cotton that virtually eliminates skin irritation by removing the short threads that can prickle infants’ skin. To even further reduce irritation, Lou & Olly uses skin-friendly eco-dyes to colour the blankets, which means they conform to the stringent textile standard Oeko Tex 100. Oeko Tex 100 limits the use of harmful chemicals that can cause dermatological problems, many of which are found to varying degrees in everyday childrenswear.
 
Lou & Olly founder Jane Blakey regards eco-dyes as the logical step forward for a New Zealand producer of fine children’s blankets and clothing. “Eco-dyes fit well with our New Zealand image: clean, green and forward-thinking. Lou & Olly strives to make each garment as good as it possibly can be, and attention to the little details is the secret,” she says.   
 
Lou & Olly made its name with luxury merino children’s blankets, and eco-dyed combed cotton marks a new segment in its portfolio. The blankets are available in two sizes in either of Lou & Olly’s distinctive classic or vintage weaves. They are particularly suitable for the warmer months and work well in the pram, the cot or as a throw rug as the child grows.  
 



June 2010
New Eco Dye Vintage Baby Blankets ease skin irritation in toddlers

 
Auckland NZ - New Zealand-owned childrenswear brand Lou & Olly has just released a new vintage-style Eco Dyed merino wool blanket. What makes the blanket special is that the dyeing process adheres to the stringent global textile standard, Oeko-Tex Standard 100.
 
The Eco Dyed blankets are aimed at parents who want to wrap and dress their kids in all-natural fibres, free from the chemicals used to colour and treat most modern kids wear. 
 
Lou & Olly founder Jane Blakey says using an Eco Dye process that conforms to Oeko Tex 100 is a major step forward for the company and the intricate vintage blankets add a traditional flavour to their product offering.
 
“Merino wool has always been linked to low incidence of skin allergies in children. But now that we’ve gone further and reduced the hazardous substances used in the dyeing process, which can cause skin irritations, even children with the most sensitive skin are catered for. Plus the detailing on the vintage blankets makes them look like something grandma might have knitted,” she says.
 
To attain the Oeko-Tex standard, Lou & Olly vintage blankets steer clear of harmful chemicals during the dyeing process. This reduction of chemicals means less energy is consumed at the treatment plants and fewer chemicals end up in our waterways. Even the water Lou & Olly use for treatment is natural bore water, rather than chemically treated urban tap water. Blakey says that purity is the beauty of buying New Zealand made.
 
“At Lou & Olly, we’re very proud of New Zealand’s clean, green image and we want to deliver a product that reflects that purity to our customers. Fewer chemicals in the finished product not only mean a healthier experience for the wearer, but also makes perfect sense a product that’s delicate yet durable like merino,” she says.
 
About Lou & Olly
 
Jane Blakey founded Lou & Olly in July 2008, in Auckland, New Zealand.  She named the company after her affectionate nicknames for her two small daughters, Brooke Lucy and Olivia (Lou & Olly).
 
Jane has designed every item in the Lou & Olly range with Brooke and Olivia in mind (and usually on hand too).  The finished products are testament to her meticulous research and testing as well as the flexibility and purity of 100% merino wool.
 
For further information on Lou & Olly Eco Dyed vintage blankets, contact Jane Blakey on +64 9 525 3231 or  info@louandolly.com.

 

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