Normally, when we use the word “collaboration” in menswear, we mean when two brands come together to create a product that combines their two aesthetics into a new inventive way. But for oki-ni, collaboration means something far bigger.
Ever since oki-ni was founded in 2001, the British concept store has reinvented what “collaboration” means in menswear. Yes, the high-end imprint, which deals exclusively in limited-edition goodies, has done traditional collaborations, releasing a plethora of products with brands like adidas, Oakley, Dr. Martens, Volta and more. But oki-ni does much more that that: with every new season it taps a different designer or tastemaker to curate their newest offerings in a series of editorials called STYLED. It’s a moment for pieces of clothing to be not just simple objects, but rather props in a nuanced story, costumes in a real-life play.
Originally a gallery space-cum-store-front, the first oki-ni location was launched as an experiment in new-age menswear. However the internet is where oki-ni shines. Browsing through their website feels like walking through an avant-garde art gallery. Yes, there’s clothing you can buy, but there’s so much more to feast your eyes on.
The STYLED Series
For its STYLED series, oki-ni’s creative team brings together a host of collaborators for a “coming together of like-minded people to present a unique and compelling vision – a wearable presentation of looks pulled from our brand mix”. They’ve featured such movers-and-shakers as A$AP Rocky, John McCarty, Jane Howard, Hiroshi Hashiguci, Glen Kitson, John Colver and more, for artistic editorials that have pushed the brand towards the top of menswear culture.
As part of their collaborative world, oki-ni takes its customers behind these scenes of fashion creation through its interview series and backstage fashion show photography. The store has sat down with fashion greats such as Sir Paul Smith, Fraser Moss and Christopher Kane, and been on hand for fashion events such as J.W. Anderson’s 2013 show, Thom Browne‘s trunk show, YMC SS14 and more.
oki-ni doesn’t just collaborate with clothing designers. Since 2010, it also engages with musicians through its MIX series of curated playlists. There are 182 now, and the list of featured artists includes the likes of Rhye, Ryan Hemsworth, We Have Band, Chathouse, Perera Elsewhere, Panes and more.
In it’s own words, oki-ni explains the concept behind the mixes,
The series aims to venture off the dancefloor, allowing the artists involved the freedom to produce unique, personal mixes that speak directly to their passions and interests.
Play a stand out offering above.
Interactive Shopping Guide
Back in 2011, oki-ni experimented with a new way to showcase their offerings. They took the traditional idea of a lookbook or editorial and flipped it on its head, shooting a fully shoppable storyline that brought the viewer into probably the most stylish game of ping-pong ever played. As the action unfolded, you were prompted to click on the actors and shop their outfit. It brought a new level of dynamism to something that has traditionally been static.
In 2012, to celebrate the relaunch of its website, oki-ni seized the opportunity to once again change the way you look at clothing. What they did was take a selection of their newest offerings, fasten them to weather balloons, and then launch them (get it) basically into space. Along for the ride were a set of cameras which captured the clothing’s journey. Watch the video above.
What’s next for oki-ni? As the store continues to build bridges with its collaborators, there’s probably nothing it can’t accomplish. In the age of the internet, oki-ni’s boundless reserves of creativity, and fearless dedication to trying out new things leaves them uniquely poised for big things.
Now, enough reading about it, go to oki-ni’s website and see what we’re talking about.