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.
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.
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
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.
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.
New Eco Dye Vintage Baby Blankets ease skin irritation in toddlers