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Olivia Anthony is Building a SZA-Beloved, '90s-Inspired Style Empire One Brand at a Time

Liv Streetwear Pre-Fall 2017 campaign
Micaiah Carter/Styled by Jessi Jacq

Liv Streetwear Pre-Fall 2017 campaign.

Olivia Anthony didn't go to school for design. In fact, when she started her label Liv Streetwear back in 2012, she was still studying theater arts at Alabama State University.

“I'm originally a dancer, but I feel like fashion is what people know me for,” 27-year-old Anthony told Billboard of her start. “When I was in school it just wasn’t fun for me anymore. I went to LA to visit my cousin, and she’s a makeup artist and took me to set. I was assisting the stylist and I was like ‘OK cool, I can see this happening.’ When I went back to school, this group on campus called Elite Models came up to me and asked me to be a head stylist of the group. So it kind of just grew from there.”

Though from Birmingham, Alabama, Anthony always knew she’d end up in New York, so upon graduation, she moved up north to the Big Apple. While she was interning with Complex, acting as a freelance stylist and working in fashion retail, the designer took a leap of faith a year ago, quit her job and began to pursue the hobby she was most passionate about: Initially her first brand, Liv Streetwear (which she tries to steer away from just trendy t-shirts saying, "Everybody had a t-shirt line.") and now the third collection of her editorial-style brand, House of Olivia Anthony.

 

It's Almost time 4 the @houseofoliviaanthony ? I'm So Ready

A post shared by ?????????. Olivia Anthony (@liv4olivia) on

“I felt like I needed to [quit my job]. I’m not getting any younger and I really believe in my brand," she said. "I told my parents, ‘I just really feel like if I work for myself full time, I’ll see the benefits,’ and I have. God is so good. Right when I quit my job I did my very first pop-up for Liv Streetwear and I interviewed Laquan Smith for Racked TV. Just seeing all that happen in like a week was confirmation.”

Her main source of inspiration is everything '90s, from TLC fashion and hair to music and movies. "For House of Olivia Anthony, I’m inspired by Clueless, Romy and Michele, all the supermodels from the '90s with a Tokyo twist. Liv Streetwear's latest collection was inspired by Freaknik and Lil’ Kim." That, of course, was where SZA's pink snap-off pants came from.

"In my mind, I'm competing with Moschino," Anthony says. "So I love when people come to me and I feel that the client or the stylist gets my brand and brings it to light. It's called Liv Streetwear; SZA is the definition of a person who is not afraid to live. When she wore my piece [a pair of pink tearaway sweatpants, a style made famous during the '90s hip-hop era] for her 2017 Afropunk performance, it was definitely a moment. I loved it.” 

 

Issa Mood --

A post shared by ?????????. Olivia Anthony (@liv4olivia) on

But the real drive for Anthony was creating a line "that's like my love letter to black culture." I wanted to highlight that we’ve been doing this--having your baby hairs and long fingernails and grills. We’ve always set trends, and we’ve never been afraid to live. And now we’re getting to a stage where everybody is starting to see it [and receive it]. I feel like [being from] the South does play a big part in how I design. I mean, we’re the ‘dirty south’ — we’re as cultured as it can get."

Since her decision to venture out and live on her own terms, the emerging designer is proud of the direction her brand is going and the progress she has made. “I personally love the slow and steady success that I’m experiencing because I want longevity. Everything is 'trends,' and they’ll last for a minute and everybody will be so into it and then they’ll get sick of it and it’ll be gone. What will keep people and brands going is their genuine love of fashion, so if I have to go up the hill very slow to get to my peak, I don’t mind it.” 


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