Rebecca Overmeyer, owner and designer at Rebecca O the Label
Hamilton-based designer Rebecca Overmeyer credits her grandmother with sparking her love of fashion and design. That and a pink Brother sewing machine she got when she was just 13.
“I always loved being creative as far back as I can remember,” she says. “I enjoyed art, playing around with my outfits, and wearing dresses handmade by my grandma.”
Those early passions set Rebecca on a path of being fearless around experimenting with design, colour, and fabric, and in hindsight, helped form a strong foundation for her rapidly growing business Rebecca O the label.
Like many young designers with dreams of making their mark on the competitive New Zealand fashion landscape, Rebecca has faced plenty of hurdles along the way. However, staying firm around forging her own path and proving adept at redirecting where necessary has seen her realise her goals.
The 25-year-old designer has successfully juggled motherhood alongside designing and launching her new label (as well as creating her own fabric designs) and graduating from her fashion studies.
Having originally launched Rebecca O the label in 2021 as a rental business, it didn’t take long to pivot and reconsider that concept.
“There wasn’t much point having a rental business when no one was going out due to COVID and lockdowns,” she says.
“So I adapted and focused on creating a made-to-order range that was received really well.”
That made-to-order philosophy is proving an excellent fit in all respects – for customers as well as Rebecca’s own mindset around sustainable and slow fashion.
“The fact I make every piece to order ticks a lot of boxes around my desire to practice sustainability and slow fashion. There’s less production waste and because each item is custom sized, ideally the customer will wear it and use it for longer.”
The collection can be customised, with a choice also of fabric, colour, and silhouette
Working mainly with linen and cotton fabrics, Rebecca sources her linen from New Zealand businesses. She also uses scrap fabrics from her designs to make scrunchies and masks, selling these and donating funds to the Mental Health Foundation or sometimes adding them as a feel-good freebie to customer orders.
Setting Rebecca O apart from the crowd is the eye-catching printed fabrics at the heart of many pieces.
“I’m very particular with prints,” says Rebecca, “so I wanted to have a go at creating my own fabrics.
“I wanted to add something signature to Rebecca O the label and thought exclusive prints would make my brand stand out amongst the crowd, plus, allow me a bold pattern that aligned with my designs.”
The decision to evolve the signature prints to include the Rebecca O logo was carefully thought out.
“Having a designer’s signature on fabric can be a hit or miss, but because I’m dealing directly with my customers, I get their feedback and many of them love it, which is awesome.”
Her RO fabric collection is exclusively designed here in New Zealand and printed on organic cotton.
“It also allows me to have another medium to express my creativity and my love for colour. Customers have responded well to my RO signature print, which comes in a pink, mint green, blue, and brown.”
Rebecca’s signature print is custom-designed and printed in organic cotton
There’s a common theme threaded throughout Rebecca’s story when you chat with her – and that’s around staying true to herself.
“It took me about two years after graduating to really have a solid idea of my business concept and the type of clothing I wanted to make,” she says.
While she knew that her goal was to create a brand that catered for all body types and to create flattering, sustainable pieces that could be worn through many seasons, it still took time to refine her ideas.
“I also wanted to start a slow fashion brand that only produces garments when needed. This method has really worked for me and my customers and allows for customisations with style, fit, and fabric choice.”
Having originally started studying fashion back in 2016 at Wintec, Rebecca took a gap year to have her first son before going back to study and graduate in 2019 and showcase her designs at her first fashion show.
Rebecca works mainly with linen and cotton fabrics
Running her own business under her own label was always the end goal. Rebecca’s love of vibrant colour and discerning eye for pattern is part of her brand. She also knows, and more importantly acknowledges, that every body is individual.
So the driving force behind her collection is the fact all garments can be custom sized, with a choice also of fabric, colour, and silhouette.
“I love to create fun feminine pieces that can be worn every day and help women feel confident, whatever their body shape.
“The decision to offer custom sizing, custom linen, and fabric options and custom designs is so that every woman can have something handmade especially for them.”
Working from her studio at home where she lives with her husband and two children, Rebecca often shares videos and photos of new designs in progress on social media and thrives on being able to get immediate feedback from the community around her.
“A huge amount of work goes into photographing designs and keeping up with all of that and that was another learning curve for me.
“Looking over the journey I’m grateful for humble beginnings and proud that no matter what life throws my way, I have consistently nurtured this business and am genuinely happy to be actively doing what I love and staying true to who I am.”
Images by Rebecca O and Kelsey Harding