behind the brand
We spoke to Emily Oberg, founder of the sportive and luxurious label Sporty & Rich, about keeping the balance between work and leisure, her view on sustainable brands and how she finds inspiration for the collections.
Emily Oberg, photo by Pavielle Garcia
First of all, how are you doing?
I just got back from a two month-long holiday, so the post-holiday blues are setting in. But life in LA feels like a permanent holiday so I cannot complain at all.
Sporty & Rich started as a mood board magazine. What made you decide to expand with a collection?
It was sort of just a natural progression of the brand, I built the Instagram and did the magazines, and I had just left a full-time job and was trying to figure out what to do, so I decided to give it a shot and it worked. It was very natural and not forced, I wasn't ever trying to build a brand or make clothes, it just happened over the years.
It was a slow build and as I grew as a person, the brand grew as well. It all happened at the right time and at the right point in my life. I'm a true believer that everything happens if and when it is supposed to.
How would you describe the aesthetic identity of your brand?
The name itself pretty much sums it up! But it's really just the combination of sport and luxury, clean and fun, the brand is very personal because it's a reflection of me and what I like: my interests, my hobbies, where I travel and live, the house I live in, my lifestyle, the music I like, the food I eat, the people I surround myself with, etcetera. The aesthetic identity is well, me.
What inspires you? Has this changed over the past year?
Everything and anything. Food, places, people, cars, buildings, design, art, music, houses, furniture, movies, the sun, the sea. I've always been deeply affected by my surroundings and my environment. For me it's so important that I surround myself with positive and authentic people, but also beautiful spaces and nice furniture, good lighting and nice weather. If I don't like my environment, I can feel it right away and it alters my mood and mental state.
"The aesthetic identity of Sporty & Rich is well, me."
Is the collection created with a specific Sporty & Rich woman in mind?
Yes, always. I picture different girls whose style I admire wearing the clothes, how they would wear it and for what occasion. I also design for myself, like most designers do. I would never make anything that I myself wouldn't wear, so it all must be stuff that I love and can see myself in as well.
What do you think when you see someone wearing a design from your hand?
I still think it's so surreal and cool. I love seeing people in Sporty, knowing that there are people out there who like what I've built and can connect with it - that to me is so rewarding and special. I'll never get over this aspect.
What does a day at the Sporty & Rich (home) headquarters look like?
My business is structured differently than most. My entire team is based in Paris except for me, I'm the only one in LA so I often work alone.
I travel to Paris every 2-3 months to work with them, but the rest of the time we work remotely. I work from my house, and I always start my day with some sort of movement, preferably fasted. I'll either do 5 minutes of rowing, dance to my favorite song in my living room, go for a hike or do some yoga or stretching. Then, I'll make myself some bone broth and berries and get to work. I usually have calls with my team from 7 am-11 am since they are 9 hours ahead. Then, I'll work by myself until around 1 or 2 and I'll have the rest of the day to chill. I use my pool a lot, almost every day. I see friends for lunch and dinner, drive to the beach, go surfing, a long walk or cook for friends. I love hosting, it's my absolute favorite thing to do.
"I love seeing people in Sporty, knowing that there are people out there who like what I've built and can connect with it - that to me is so rewarding and special."
You make items that last a very long time – what does Sporty & Rich contribute to sustainability?
I always say that there's no such thing as a sustainable brand, because there really is not. If you are interested in conserving the planet or reversing climate change, you likely won't be in the apparel industry. But since I have a brand and value our planet, I do what I can to offset the damage that having a brand does to our environment. For me it's not really an option to run your business as sustainably as possible— it's kind of just mandatory.
How would you describe your personal style?
It's very simple and classic. I have a ton of vintage Levi's, T-shirts and knitwear. I mostly wear the same thing all the time, and I prefer uniform dressing over chasing trends.
Photo by Pavielle Garcia
I'm very much inspired by timeless menswear and elegant women. I love when people look chic but effortless, to me that's the most stylish look of all.
Do you have a favourite design from the autumn/winter collection?
It's so hard to choose because we have so many styles! This season we did this really nice rust colour that I love. We're also launching our first full collection of wool knitwear which I am super excited about. It's always fun launching new categories. It's both challenging, exciting and rewarding all at the same time.
"I'm very much inspired by timeless menswear and elegant women. I love when people look chic but effortless, to me that's the most stylish look of all."
You are working with various organisations and nonprofits that fight against injustice – how important are these causes to you?
I think it's my responsibility as someone with a platform and voice to speak out about these issues and bring awareness. Being someone who is Asian and a woman, it's important for me to stand up for minorities and what is right. It's not something I decide to do, I just do it and that's how everyone's mentality should be around these causes.
Any future plans you would like to share with us?
More product categories and lots of exciting collaborations!
Discover the Sporty & Rich collection in our stores and online at Pauw.com.