Luxury lilos are set to redefine the poolside experience. With travel restrictions eased, every stylish Oliver James lilo is created to be enjoyed both in and out of the water, manufactured with the finest fabrics. Oliver James draws inspiration from life’s beautiful experiences, with a product range consisting of nine lilos within three collections: Lisos, Panama, and Shore.
We met with founder Oliver Micklewright to find out more about him and his luxury lilos at Oliver James.
What inspired you to create Oliver James?
As a child, I was lucky enough to spend most summers in the south of France with my family. I have vivid memories of us all sunbathing, relaxing and playing in the pool on a big Intex lilo, which became a quintessential part of our summer holidays. Years later, my social media feeds were invaded by inflatable swans and flamingos, making me realise how the culture had changed since my childhood. That inspired me to start working on Oliver James; I wanted to design the world’s best floating furniture that would merge an elegant design with practicability and longevity, paying homage to those childhood memories I am so fond of.
What is your view on the current market for luxury upholstered pool floats and how does Oliver James position itself within this?
According to the American Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP), there are 10.4 million residential pools in the US, while in the Los Angeles County alone there are around 20,000 in homes worth more than 3 million USD. Yet, there is not really a market for luxury floating furniture, aside from a very few brands that – in my opinion – do not capture the lifestyle that accompany such products. Owning an Oliver James lilo means choosing the best lilo possible; from the design to the materials, including our first-class customer service, we are committed to provide our customers with products they will love and will be proud of. This is how Oliver James stands out.
Now that Oliver James is available in the UK and Europe, how do you see the brand evolving in the next five years?
In my mind, new ideas and possibilities for Oliver James are constantly evolving as I meet new people. It is them, with their different cultures and lifestyles, that inspire the vision for the brand. I believe we can only learn from each individual market and region, adjusting our perspectives based on their differences. Much of our inspiration comes from the romantic summers of Europe, which perfectly match the ‘international feel’ of our products. Introducing our luxury lilos to European customers is a huge milestone for our young brand.
What is Oliver James’ commitment to sustainability?
We must start by admitting that the pool float industry is not really the best when it comes to sustainability because of two reasons; the typical product lifespan, and the use of unrecyclable PVC material, preferred by most brands for its low costs. At Oliver James, we do our best to make sure our products are as environmentally friendly as possible. We do so by using thermal polyurethane (TPU) films to make all our products, which – despite being very expensive – is an extremely recyclable material that creates a more comfortable, long lasting, and durable inflatable. We also exclusively work with suppliers and factories that have sustainability rooted in their supply, like Sunbrella for example. All our plastic and fabric off-cuts are used to make other products, including our fabric swatches, while our collateral and packaging are either made of recycled or organic materials. Beyond this, we collect and send all faulty products back to our warehouse free of charge, and we offer our customers the option to carbon offset their deliveries through a fantastic service called Cloverly.
Tell us about some of your latest collections and what we can expect from Oliver James in the next year.
We started in 2020 with a core collection of one luxury lilo in six colourways, and this year we have added three more colours. Our goal is to provide a collection of luxury lilos of all different shapes and sizes. Currently in development are a double lilo, a ring and a noodle. We also see collaborations as an important component to Oliver James, and to this end we are currently developing custom fabrics and colourways with some exciting brands in different regions and sectors, whether that be in fashion, art, design, yachting or hospitality. We have an exciting future ahead and this is only the beginning.
Does Oliver James offer bespoke designs and personalisation? And if so, how does it work?
Absolutely, Oliver James has over 100 fabrics in stock and many more available to order. We also offer embroidery in outdoor fabric yarn and other custom options. Customers can reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org specifying what they are looking for, and we will be happy to work on any requests.
How important is the design when creating an Oliver James lilo?
Before we go to market, we test our designs in demanding environments, learning how to adapt them for every specific use. In addition, our design team constantly improves through feedback from the market and studying new materials. As for the brand’s design language, we like to keep things minimalistic. We look at our products, our packaging, our collateral, our website, etc., and always ask ourselves how we can make it as simple and easy as possible. But also, since we are defining a new market, how can we do this in a creative and original way that reflects what we are building.
How do you balance functionality / durability and design aesthetic when creating the lilos?
A luxury lilo is an interesting product in this regard; it has this balance between functionality and design that must survive the elements and environments to which its subjected, such as the sun, chlorine, and seawater. The design for the perfect luxury lilo has to be supported by material development, which is something very important to us. On the other side, our Oliver James aesthetic is somewhat at the cross-roads of outdoor furniture and fashion, giving a glamorous feel on the outside, while on our e-commerce users can have a glimpse into technical aspects such as material and performance.
What are your favourite destinations in Europe and how do these inspire your vision for Oliver James?
My favourite place in Europe is my father’s home in Mougins, France, where I have so many childhood memories that eventually inspired the creation of Oliver James. It is a sanctuary and the place I feel the most comfortable. I also love visiting Ibiza, which is where one of my closest friends’ family is from, and I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Cornwall too; I think it is romantic in a sort of homely way. There are so many places in Europe I would love to visit, and I hope that Oliver James can become a vehicle that makes that possible, chasing the never-ending summer.
To discover more about luxury lilos, visit: oliverjameslilos.com
All imagery courtesy of Oliver James / The Public Platform.
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