OSKLEN: INTO THE MOUNTAINS
Creating a Fall/Winter collection with global appeal in a tropical country with relatively little seasonal change presents an interesting challenge to a designer. For that, Founder and Creative Director Oskar Metsavaht – born in Caxias do Sul, Brazil, and an honorary ‘carioca’ – who lends part of his name to the brand Osklen, turns to his own very active life for inspiration.
For the Osklen F/W 2013 “Into the Mountains” collection, Metsavaht dug into his passion for snow sports. He went to the Aspen of the 60’s for sophistication and from Patagonia he extracted the rusticity of textures. As the name suggests, the collection, heavily influenced by mid-century skiwear, goes full on into heavy winter gear featuring a tanned leather and wool sleeve shearling lined parka, a snowflake print Italian wool sweater, buffalo plaid shirts and shirt dresses. Detailing from snowboarding outfits permeates both men’s and women’s collections.
Metsavaht has a keen interest in balancing classic and modern aesthetics, and his design embodies the contrast between the urban and the natural. This diversity becomes evident through his use of clean shapes and luxe materials and through the antithetical combination of high-tech synthetic fabrics and locally harvested organic materials.
A lover of the outdoors, Metsavaht believes it’s his responsibility as a designer to promote preservation as means to sustainable development. Hence, his engagement with environmental activism through the creation of Instituto-e – a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the impact the textile productive process has on the environment, and to galvanizing local cooperative labor.
Among the projects incubated by the Institute, the most noteworthy are E-fabrics and Traces. E-fabrics identifies renewable and repurposed materials to develop and manufacture eco-friendly fabrics, while Traces – a partnership with the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea, and Forum das Americas – traces the carbon footprint of six pieces of clothing designed and manufactured by Osklen that contain e-fabrics. Instituto-e liaisons with Osklen so its materials can then be showcased and adopted by the textile industry.
Oskar Metsavaht expands his field of action as a designer and branches out into multiple creative outlets. His collections are often birthed from the films he directs and the pieces are designed to be the costumes worn by the characters he creates. These films accompany the collection as part of the campaign. Furthermore, Metsavaht has collaborated with the Andy Warhol Foundation of Art and has designed a special edition for Jeep Cherokee and a collection of watches for H. Stern. His sense of aesthetics and entrepreneurship lift Osklen from its sportswear base into a lifestyle and luxury goods brand.
Whether winter or summer, the choice of materials – governed by the concern with sustainability –and the very design of the clothes give Osklen a vernacular trait that conveys the lifestyle seen in many Brazilian cities, where asphalt and forest converge, and a certain tropical laissez-faire is translated into neoprene, handmade silk and organic cotton.