The Oscha Slings Libero Waikiki arrived here back in June. These days I wrap my four year old so rarely, it took me way longer to get around to writing this review than I anticipated. Oscha was one of my favorite wrap companies in the early days of wrapping. I have owned many of their woven artworks over the years, and was admittedly very excited when they asked me to review one of their new blends as a part of the Oceania Collection.
Oscha Slings is a family owned company based in Scotland. The father-daughter team behind the company Mike and Zoe Masters, are committed to supporting their local economy and the rich carrying traditions of their own culture. For this reason, they proudly weave all of their fabrics in the UK, with the bulk of their manufacturing taking place in-house in Scotland. They initially began their journey grad dying Irish Linen, and then began working on their own Jacquard Woven Wraps. Although many of their designs are inspired by the beauty and natural elements in the Scottish landscape, they also have been known to borrow heavily from other cultures such as many of the Japanese designs they are famous for.
The Libero Waikiki wrap is inspired by the Art Nouveau movement in Italy, while the colorway is inspired by tropical scenes – like the rest of the pieces in the Oceania Collection. I have mainly wrapped with Oscha Linen, and this new blend was completely unique in hand compared to other wraps I have tested. It is 40% Organic Combed Cotton, 17% Linen, 30% Wool, and 13% Silk. This combination of fibers, as Zoe explained, is part of their journey to “try to satisfy as broad a range of customer requirements as possible and to find new wrapping experiences for customers”. That was exactly what came to mind when I read what the blend was! A little bit of something for everyone! This wrap had some really interesting wrapping qualities. The combed cotton made the wrap really soft after only one wash. The linen gave this wrap a really sturdy feel, making it appropriate for larger babies (or 31 lb. toddlers). The wool gave it a bounce and a cush which contributed to the support of the weave without a lot of the diggy feel that made me trade some of my other linen/cotton Oscha’s once the Dragon Baby got to be around 20 lbs. The Silk contributed to the passes gliding really smoothly in all the multi-pass carries we were trying out, and gave the wrap a nice fuzzy hairy feel that I have come to love in silk wraps. Silk can sometimes get pretty diggy too, so it was nice to see it in a combination that would be suitable for older kids as well as tiny babies. This combined with the unique wrapping characteristics of the fabric blend, makes for a really awesome wrap that can be worn with a squishy infant or a heavy toddler alike. It is definitely a wrap that you need to read the washing instructions on though. Hand wash only, which is a big reason I don’t own many interesting blends. I am a machine wash only kind of a girl.
I tried this wrap first in a Front Wrap Cross Carry. Not my typical choice for a toddler whose head I can no longer see over, but she was having a rough day and needed some cuddles. I spent about 45 minutes with her on my front while I finished up some work at the office. It was plenty supportive, without straining my shoulders like many thinner wraps. This wrap weighs in at approximately 237 g/m^2 which puts it right in the category of medium thickness. It feels quite breathable though, a combination of the linen, and the airy weave of the fabric. It felt cool even in the heat of the summer in a multi-pass carry.
The next day I wore it in a Front Wrap Cross Carry Tied at the shoulder. This too surprisingly held up well under the 31lbs of my daughter on my front side. I decided to try out some back carries in it, so I tried both a ruck with the tails threaded through the shoulders, and a double hammock. The wrap was a little bit too thin to wear her for long in the ruck, I prefer a much much floofier, thicker wrap for those kinds toddler single pass carries… but the Double Hammock was amazing. Not only was it effortless to get those cross passes in place and tightened, but it had just the right amount of grip to hold them there without adding any resistance while wrapping. I can see this being an awesome ruck wrap with a smaller baby, but I prefer some multi-pass carries with my daughter in this wrap. I wore her in the double hammock for a long walk, and she was weightless because I was able to get such an amazing wrap job. I wish I had more time to try out some fancy finishes with this, because I am sure it would be lovely for that!
In learning about Zoe and Oscha as a brand, I was reminded of some of my favorite parts of this industry. The appreciation of traditional textiles, and the support of family businesses and local artisans is something that many of my favorite carrier companies have in common. Oscha was started when Zoe had 3 children under two years old – a toddler and twin babies! She admits that though she often felt some guilt for the amount of time she put into starting the business in the beginning – she felt such a drive to share with her children her creative and entrepreneurial spirit – it propelled her forward. She loves bringing her kids into the office and the space where they manufactured the carriers, to show them the work that their family is involved in.
Oscha has a design team based in Japan that has been an instrumental part in creating many of their iconic wraps. Zoe found herself inspired by much Japanese classical art and design through her travels there, and decided to expand their team into that region to be sure that correct attention was being paid to respecting the cultures they are inspired by. I am happy to hear that, as they have had some problematic designs in the past. It is something I personally grapple with on a regular basis, as I truly love their products. They have recently released a design created with Australian Aboriginal Artist Elizabeth Close, and another piece with Ali Yee – a designer with Filipino roots who is creating work inspired by traditional tribal tattoos. I am excited to be able to admire the masterpieces these collaborations are producing, and hope that they will continue to grow as a brand and do more to contribute to the communities and artisans they are so inspired by.
Oscha is known for creating beautiful, wearable pieces of art. They are released in limited quantities – this Libero Waikiki is one of only 11 that were woven. This makes them highly collectible, and highly sought after. The quality of the yarn, the unique blends, and the captivating designs make them a brand that garners many devout followers. I asked Zoe out of all the patterns they ever wove if she had any personal favorites, and she went for some of (self-described) “underdogs” Eire and Teo, while pegging Victoriana as a design she initially did not like as much… but really grew on her over time. I actually felt the same way about Nouveau initially – though it is one of my favorites now.
Oscha have contributed some really novel ideas to the world of woven wraps, such as the concept of themed collections, and the multi-color warps which were quite unique when they started using them. It is these innovative qualities that will always make this company stand out in the world of High End woven wraps, qualities that will ensure they stay relevant in this wrapping game for years to come.
*** I was not compensated by anybody (including Oscha Slings) for this review, nor asked or coerced into say anything about them specifically. They decided to let me use this wrap in a Giveaway on my Facebook Page after I was finished reviewing it. ***