Over the years, fashion has become oversaturated, with young entrepreneurs unaware they are fresh meat. Style goes beyond clothing and pandering to the temporal trends in society. Okuru, is the latest brand to understand this.
A fashion house is created on fundamental principles which become an entity, taking on a life of its own and conjuring a following of its own. The industry lures, chews and churns these bright-eyed fawns, the ones who have not realised this and spits them right back out again. It is lethal. This will not be the case for Chris Okutu, though. Chris knows this.
The London-born Congolese designer founded OKURU back in 2018. With a focus on unity and cultural appreciation, the foundations of this brand seek to intertwine the elements of Japan and Congo. Ikigai is the philosophy that inspired the brand identity — finding purpose and exploring the reasons behind our being. Chris exclaims that OKURU is “made to stimulate”. He wants you to ask why, and then why, and then why again. It is a collaboration between creatives, with the consumer as the priority.
This year’s campaign is a microcosmic show of solidarity between cultures and generations. “Juxtaposition, not competition,” the designer asserted. The best example is the Black Panther jacket, Chris’s favourite. It sports sky blue kanji text on both sides, and a traditional black panther bears its teeth armoured on the lower back. The silhouette is familiar. This is deliberate – inspired by timeless varsity jackets and the canonical 90s Avirex. To me, this token inspiration was quite charming. Lately, innovation is only deemed excellent and worthy when fresh and completely original. Capitalism — an omnipresent force that haunts society by conditioning it into believing that all the best things are new.
So, it was remarkable to see a brand acknowledge and pay tribute to styles from the past that pioneered and paved the many faces of fashion today. It is just as impressive to rejuvenate the old as it is to create something new.