It’s been only 5 years since Oskar Metsavaht embarked on an experiment. He opened up stores around the globe – Tokyo, Milan, New York, to name a few – challenging no one other than himself and his creative team. Three continents, totally different cultures and only one thing in common: a selective market.
It was a necessary experiment. “We saw it as a test to measure the quality of Osklen’s products and if my style would be accepted by a diverse amount of people”. Apparently, it was. Just a few weeks back, Osklen did a second show at NYFW for Spring 2014 collection, “Rio by Night”, showcasing a palette on a whole different wave and spectrum than what was seen at the entire NYFW event.
When we think about Brazil, an explosion of colors impetuously comes to our minds. A quite folkloric imagery was nurtured back in the 50’s, a great expressive decade, when Carmen Miranda, Bossa Nova and Carnaval spread to the rest of the world. “People still expect a folkloric and tropical exuberance coming from us. Well, we are all of that but we are more than that”. Osklen is raising it’s voice in an universal aesthetic language, recreating particular Brazilian elements in a minimalist way. It is a Rio de Janeiro based brand but Osklen is inserted in the world through the eyes of a cosmopolitan Carioca, who look to his own country as a voyager. “For the first instance you look at our pieces and don’t instantly figure Osklen as a Brazilian brand, but if you pay attention to its details, geometry, curves… if you seek, you find Brazil’s essence…”
That’s what makes Oskar’s work even more interesting. It’s not an easy design, it promotes thinking. “My clients like design with a meaning, they are open minded and curious people”. That was the essential characteristic to start the process of internationalizing the brand. “Osklen is a balance between the local and the cosmopolite, nature and urban, simple and sophisticated. It’s something that I personally search for and it’s reflected by my clients”.
They are currently looking for another location in Midtown Manhattan, and plan to launch a studio for product development not only in New York but also Paris. “90% of products are made in Brazil, and it’s almost a miracle to keep our quality, since we don’t have that many textiles. To have additional studio outside Brazil means to diversify our material, and to have no concerns about importation, resulting in Osklen being more accessible”.
As you may know, Brazil is facing an extreme change in it’s fashion industry: Back in the 90’s the country was closed from importation, so designers of that time used to travel and copy pieces from the luxury brands reserved for only a few Brazilians, who had the means to travel abroad. This habit started to change with the advent of SPFW, São Paulo Fashion Week. SPFW has gathered new and authentic designers to showcase their work, while flying in international fashion editors and journalists who could identify what was a copy and what was not. Oskar was among the closed team of authorial designers, even though he doesn’t like to consider himself a fashion designer. His main form of expression is photography and short films he shoots with his 16mm. His collections start from an abstract image: colors pop up in his mind, shapes and textures are brought together with a text he wrote or an image he once saw. For example, his next collection takes “Futebol”, soccer as its theme: “I was 9 years old when it happened, in 1970; the World Cup elevated the sport to an art. It happened again last World Cup. The aesthetic of filming changed with those new cameras. It used to be filmed from top, and in this one I could see horizontal and lower angles, as the images got better so did the clothing. It became more epic, an aesthetic soccer. Observing those elements, the insight came to me: a low angle image, bright white lights illuminating Maracanã’s grass, vivid red from the football boots, a blurred speed. All of these I’m describing to you is what is told to my team”.
“It’s a little opportunist” he says, as next year Brazil will be holding the World cup. Well, I disagree, who better to keep pace with Brazil’s progress, than those responsible for it?