Growing up, I’ve always been interested in sneaker culture and streetwear. At the time there weren’t many women displaying the same level of appeal to the culture except for Emily Oberg. I remember being in college and watching her videos on Complex. For girls like me, she made it seem like it was okay to be into a lifestyle that was mainly dominated by men. After being familiar with Emily for years, you understand my excitement when I got to join a roundtable interview with her. We got to talk about fashion, individuality, and what it was like starting her own brand.
Some of you may be wondering, “How did she even get into streetwear?” Emily talked about how her dad has always been a sneakerhead so he introduced her to that world and shared his knowledge on streetwear brands as well. “And then when I was 14 or 15, that was when all the blogs like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety started and became really popular,” Emily shared. “[When] I was living in Hawaii and I was really bored. I didn’t like it there at the time, now I love it. But at the time it was hard because I left all my friends so I didn’t have much to do so I just spent every single day on the blogs just reading about all these brands and about streetwear and sneakers. And then I started to collect it.”
Living in a world seemingly run by men, Emily explained that her journey to success was actually quite easy. “When I went to Complex I was one of the only girls there. I was the only girl on my team, the video team which we started.” She went on to say that in the world of streetwear, they were more open. “But it wasn’t so hard because I feel like that there [weren’t] so many girls there [and] they were kind of more accepting and they wanted more girls to be involved and a girl’s point of view.” Luckily for her, she was also given the opportunity to create content targeted for women. “And then I started to cover more female-centric topics at Complex and they let me do that, which was nice. And then obviously at Kith, I really expanded their women’s division. It’s been pretty easy. People always say that it’s hard being a woman in this male-dominated world but it’s actually been pretty nice for me.”
When it comes to fashion, Emily also believes in it being inclusive, similar to Oxygen’s COED collection. She sees the importance in having separate lines but also in offering gender neutral clothes. “I think it is important to have female-oriented clothes and [options] for me and just have the division. Sometimes it’s nice that everyone can wear the same thing but I think sometimes, girls they want to dress or feel a certain way and I think only certain clothes can make them feel that way. But I do feel like this is important because since the beginning, women have always worn men’s stuff anyway, especially in streetwear, so I think it just makes sense to say it’s gender neutral.”
And for all the ladies out there, Emily pointed out that success is possible for women in streetwear. “I think there’s definitely a lot more female designers, which is great. At Kith I had two female designers, which was nice. You just see a lot more females coming to positions of power, which is really nice to see. This probably only happened in the last two or three years.”
In case you didn’t know, Emily recently stepped down from her position at Kith to focus on her own brand Sporty & Rich. “It started as a magazine first and then the clothes are kind of to help support the magazine. I do it myself and it’s expensive to produce and publish a magazine so that’s why I started the clothing. But now I’ve started to produce everything in LA and everything’s sustainable and [made of] organic recycled cotton. I wanna do more products under that line. The whole brand just represents good design and quality things and minimalism and simplicity, so just more products that fall under those categories.”
If you’re starting your own brand, Emily suggests working on why you want to do it. “I think the brands that do the best are the ones that have a vision and have a meaning. I always like to say that the ‘why?’ is the most important of whatever you do. The ‘what?’ is not so important. If there’s no ‘why?’ then it doesn’t mean anything. I think that if people just wanted to start a brand because they want to make money or just to say they have a cool brand, i think it doesn’t work.”
Now that’s she’s focusing on her own brand and is the new endorser of local streetwear brand Oxygen, what’s next for Emily? “I’m definitely going to be working on the magazine and clothing line. I wanna expand to more products, maybe different industries. I wanna do a jewelry line because I love jewelry. I wanna work more with the environment and helping animals because that’s what I’m most passionate about. Just finding a way to do what I already do and turn it into something I can help those industries [with].”
Emily is just a year older than I am but looking at her accomplishments has definitely given me a fresh perspective of my goals and some much-needed motivation to keep pushing forward.
Art by Marian Hukom
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