Olivia von Halle founded her eponymous business in 2011 with just one pair of silk lounging pyjamas, the Lila. Ten years on, the brand’s extensive range of luxe pyjamas, robes, kimonos, nightshirts and eye masks is sold by some of the world’s most prestigious retailers, as well as in its own flagship store on London’s Sloane Square. Its Missy silk-cashmere tracksuit was a sell-out when it launched in 2016, while its slip dresses grace the wardrobes of many of the fashion world’s movers and shakers. The Lila, meanwhile, remains a bestseller.
‘Unlike other brands, we make all our own fabrics, dye to order and screen-print our own hand-drawn motifs,’ says Olivia. ‘We also work with cashmere, using a heritage knitting technique to blend it with our silk.’
As occasion wear became less relevant in 2020, Olivia von Halle’s mindful luxury and natural fabrics chimed very much with the unprecedented times. ‘It was definitely the banner year for luxury loungewear. We were incredibly fortunate to see our product and brand resonate strongly with consumers, many of whom turned to our pieces to provide flair for days that all felt the same.’
Naturally there were challenges. ‘At the outset of the pandemic we had to shift focus to direct-to-consumer, safeguarding Olivia von Halle from the uncertainty of bricks and mortar. Beyond that, we learned to be nimble. We found that small adjustments to our brand strategy – such as our tone of voice – made a great impact, and ensured we remained relevant in a rapidly changing and challenging environment.’
Olivia designed her first set of lounging pyjamas when she was living in China. She is now based in London but her influences, she says, remain universal. ‘My first design was inspired by the lounging pyjamas worn by Coco Chanel and her contemporaries in the 1920s, but although our designs are inspired, at times, by the insignia and silhouettes of yesteryear, our strategy, our community and our identity are forward- looking and inclusive. The many identities of the Olivia von Halle woman means there is no single national trait we embody or wish to represent.’
This year the brand will make its first foray into cotton, blending it with silk for a characteristically luxe take on nightwear designed for balmy summer nights. ‘One development we are especially excited about is the launch of our beautiful house slippers – velvet, heavily embellished and the most comfortable slipper imaginable. We want to continue to create directional and decadent dressing, designed for the party or the after- party; whether enjoying revelry in person or dreaming of it from afar, Olivia von Halle is for moments of freedom and delight.’
Despite the undoubted challenges of 2020, Olivia feels the developments she made then have brought the brand closer to its customers and afforded it clarity of vision. ‘Having streamlined our offering, our brand mission is now clearer than ever,’ says Olivia, ‘and we have absolute confidence in our brand purpose, this year and beyond.’