AKJP, a South African fashion label, has been quietly making waves in the industry, gaining both local and international acclaim. With an aesthetic that found itself on creativity and high quality, the brand has become known for their ethical practices and have recently been crowned as winners at the Cape Wools Designer Challenge at the South African Fashion Week (SAFW).
If you aren’t familiar with the brand, picture this: a modern aesthetic, with lookbooks that are akin to those from overseas, where the director envisioned something conceptually off-centre, with non-traditional models in uncomfortably alluring poses. The brand is the result of the teaming up of designer Adriaan Kuiters and artist Jody Paulsen. After a successful initial collaboration, the duo continued to produce collections, leading up to the Cape Town store, which hosts a collection of young designers. At AKJP, one can rack up wardrobe staples, featuring limited edition prints. The brand offers clothing and accessories, including leather bags. In simple, modern style, the brand allows form to meet function through their signature boxy silhouettes, layering, and asymmetrical detailing. When seeing AKJP collections, one can admire the craftsmanship that went into producing the collections, which takes inspiration from tropical Durban, to artistic brush strokes, and hedonism, delivered in beautiful prints and cutting-edge silhouettes.
The look of a brand is often inspired by its ethos. At AKJP, this is paramount and has been celebrated as such. AKJP was featured in Ethetics (ethics and aesthetics), a “series exploring the crucial marriage between aesthetics and society’s well being.” Brands who cause minimal “damage to the planet and her people, while still giving the consumer an aesthetic satisfaction.” In this way, AKJP is at the forefront of promoting fashion consciousness and social responsibility. AKJP pushes boundaries by tackling the obvious, for instance, developing a winter collection that was more suited to South Africa. We experience winters that are not as harsh as that of our Northern counterparts, who generally produce dark, thick collections which are then replicated for local audiences. Furthermore, AKJP prides itself in creating luxury through quality which translates into confidence for its wearers. AKJP also outsource work to the likes of Woodheads for leather and the SvenMill factory for their jacquards.
When it comes to making a mark on the South African industry, AKJP said that there are opportunities for designers in South Africa through funding and competitions by industry leaders such as SAFW. South Africans also support local design, but there is a challenge when it comes to international retailers who sell fast fashion. These companies have budget for marketing campaigns and offer trends and affordable prices. This buying culture, however, often comes at a cost, to both the people behind the scenes in the factories, and the environment. This commentary, as stated in the Ethetics fashion video, was followed by closing commentary stating that the world’s eyes are on Africa, and that technology is the key to bringing South Africa closer to the world in the realm of fashion.
The growth of the South African fashion industry, with new frontiers including AKJP, makes it more important now than ever to support local.
For more information on AKJP, visit the store on 73 Kloof Street in Cape Town, or their website at www.akjpstudio.com.