olive and oak

elize strydom's photo journal

Category: love/want

durban days

alex dyson high res (1 of 1)



Deb and her husband Mike lived in Australia for two years but have now settled back home in South Africa. We became friends after meeting at church in Sydney and I was lucky enough to spend two weekends with them in Durban in between Small Town Girl shoots. It was cool to be in the city with a couple of locals who knew their way around and where to get the best coffee (v. important). We visited Deb’s friend Amy Venter who’s a fashion designer and owner of Jane Sews, an artisan clothing, footwear and leather label. She was in the middle of setting up a new space at The Commune I really wanted to buy all of the things – every gorgeous item is designed and made in Durban – but I was traveling with just a backpack and a duffle bag so it wasn’t practical. Thank goodness for online shopping, though, right? On this particular day, Deb was tossing up whether or not to rent a space at The Commune for Bouwer Flowers, her floral design studio. All over South Africa I met passionate artists/designers/musicians/photographers/florists and jewellers creating scenes, working hard and making things happen. A vibrant, cutting edge creative industry is probably not the first thing you think of when someone mentions SA but it soon will be, trust me.

wear it well


Australian Fashion Week is happening in Sydney right now and it has reminded me of my one foray into that world. Three years ago I snapped the backstage preparations for Toni Maticevski‘s Spring/Summer 2011 show at Carriageworks. I then squeezed in amongst the dense pack of photographers to shoot the models strutting down the runway. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed and nervous yet forcing myself to play it cool and act like I knew exactly what I was doing. I’d love to do it again some time but I think I’d take a more photojournalistic approach. You know, try to find an angle, slow down, be in the moment, keenly observe and then *click*. Something a little more like what Tamara Dean captured here. Rachel and Hannah-Rose are covering this year’s event for Broadsheet and they’re going about it in a refreshingly level-headed way while still producing insightful and captivating words and images each day. Really, what else did I expect from these two wonder-girls? 

While we’re on the subject of fashion, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about style and sustainability, quality and ethics. For the last two years I’ve tried to buy clothes while keeping the mantra ‘seek style over trends’ in mind and I’ve been paying more and more attention to fabrics and where garments are made. Dan’s big on buying clothes that are both designed and made in the same country (eg. designed and made in Australia or Denmark or Sweden etc.) as he’s found it’s usually synonymous with care and quality. The more I look into it, the more I tend to agree. The other day I read the following quote from the PR Director of Australian label bassike, Jacqueline Perrett, and it really resonated with me: “There is a conscious step away from decided displays of luxury of the obvious and excessive kind, and no longer are the clothes wearing us. We’ve returned to a pared-back, understated luxury with a focus on integrity and longevity, and with greater regard for the product we’re buying ; where it came from, how and where it was made, and the philosophies of the brands we’re buying into.” And just yesterday I read this post on the slow and careful curation of a wardrobe and the process of developing personal style. 

I know things are tough for designers these days, but recently I was very disappointed to discover that one of my favourite labels has stopped making its clothes in New Zealand and has cut right back on quality fabrics like silk, linen, wool and cotton while sticking with the same price point. Thankfully, another one of my favourite labels, twenty-seven names, has not gone down that path. I refuse to pay $300+ for 100% rayon or viscose. 

Of course, from time to time, I still compromise and give in to my desire for something ‘on trend’ and affordable, but from now on I’m going to try my best to be a more conscious consumer and reject the collection of uncohesive and poor quality pieces. I’m aiming to buy less but choose well: I want to spend my dollars on garments that I’ll still be wearing and loving in 10 years time. 


general store


General Store in Venice CA is filled with the stuff of (my) dreams. I’ll take the lot, thanks.



ImageLook, I’m no good at thrift-shopping. I walk into the store with high hopes, set on finding some vintage gem that everyone else has overlooked. I start sorting through the racks of pre-loved garments with the best of intentions. But I lose interest…fast. I don’t have the eye, don’t have the stamina. I give up and go to the store next door instead, the one with ‘vintage inspired’ dresses that cost ten times as much. I guess I need my second hand threads curated. That’s where Portland’s Backtalk comes in. Never before have I seen such a good mix of affordable vintage, locally made and brand new clothes and jewellery. My friend Hannah and I stumbled on Backtalk when we were biking around the city’s Mississippi District last month. We struck up a conversation with the gorgeous Katie – store owner and jewellery maker – who gave us tips on where to eat, drink and shop in Portland. We exchanged band recommendations, too. Now I just need to hire her to be my personal shopper and I’ll never have to set foot in another op-shop again!