Over the course of the next few months Oki-Ni will be launching their 'New Faces of Menswear' feature which will showcase a number of emerging menswear designers as well as simply giving us the chance to buy their creations. The feature kicks off with HEDERUS and Mr Hare with the likes of (deep breath) Martine Rose, Christopher Shannon, Satyenkumar, Odeur, Lou Dalton and Kling by Kling (who looks set to awarded a spot at this year’s S.L.A.T.E. trade show in Las Vegas) to follow over the next couple of months (exhale). We often talk about the wealth of emerging design talent out there but far too often the designs are just too difficult to get hold off. With Daniel Jenkins soon to be stocking Carolyn Massey (more on that in the near future), the online offering for AW09 looks extremely bright...we're just not sure Steve's bank balance can take it!
The feature will include an in depth interview between each designer and Oki-Ni's Creative Director John Skelton detailing the designers personal experience in the industry so far. Each interview is accompanied by an intimate portrait of the designer shot in their own creative surroundings by in-house photographer Ben Benoliel. When we first heard about the feature we have to confess to being a little jealous and slapped our foreheads for not thinking of it first! Oki-Ni continue to show many other online retailers how it could and should be done. We caught up with John to get his take on the designers involved, future oki-ni projects and who he has his eye on for SS10...
The 'New Faces of Menswear' designer portraits by Ben Benoliel
Style Salvage: Talk us through the featured designers and what caught your imagine in their AW09 collections?
John Skelton: What, all of them? Haha! We’ve spent six months compiling the most in depth interviews and covered everything from inspiration of the current and previous collections to the state of the British Fashion industry today and you want me to write it all out again!! Ha, let’s just say that every single one of our pack really caught my attention for completely different reasons. There is so much talent amongst this lot and so many different angles and styles covered that I feel very proud to have met them all and to be showcasing their collections. The only thing that they all have in common is that there expression is born from a completely pure and true feeling, which is the absolute love of product. That’s why I’m subscribing myself to all of them.
SS: What are the pieces you are most excited to be stocking next season? What might find its way in to your own wardrobe?
John Skelton: Its really difficult for me to single any of them out as I think they are all fantastic and I would love pretty much all of it for my wardrobe. I just cant do it. they are all exceptional in their own way as pieces and collections. Sorry!
SS: To be honest with you, we are a little jealous of the feature and wish we had done it first! It includes in depth interviews and intimate portraits of the designers in their own environments to provide previously unseen insights in to the designers and their collections. How did you find the experience of the interviews? Who did you have the most fun chatting to?
John Skelton: Thanks for your kind words, we are very proud and pleased with this project and how it has worked out. I really enjoyed the whole experience and got a lot personally from it as well as for the site. I cant really say I enjoyed talking to any of them more than another as they are all so different that they all give me something extremely interesting and important in their own very unique way. A bit like all of their collections really. What I have realized over the past year or so is that there is no such thing as the best. What I mean is that there is no way in the world in the creative field that someone can be the best. Whether that is the best designer,dj , writer or whatever it might be when you get to the pinnacle of something there are a certain few who are doing something to such an amazing standard but in such a unique way that they can not even be compared. It would be wrong to say that one is better than another as they are so different in their approach and execution but are loosely seen to be doing the same thing. I find it completely fascinating how original and unique people really are. That’s what I find inspiring about these guys.
SS: The site provides much more than the basic shopping framework and is becoming something of an online resource of men's fashion. Do you have plans to develop this further?
John Skelton: Yeah, that’s something that we are totally committed to as a team and as a brand. I don’t want oki-ni to be seen as just a place where you can go and buy clothing. I really want to develop our information and resource material so we can be a guide and a port of call for anyone who is genuinely interested in and wants to learn more about the products and concepts that we are pushing and love ourselves.
SS: We asked you back in April to tell us your favourite emerging designers and you mentioned both Satyenkumar and Hederus so it must be so satisfying to be stocking them for the AW09! How straightforward is the buying process with emerging talent?
John Skelton: Its pretty straight forward to be honest. If we love it, want to wear it and believe in it then we will have a go at it. I honestly believe that in a worldwide community that there is a customer for any kind of product or brand. For us its not about whether the product will sell its just a question of can we find the customer that would buy it.
SS: Finally, who have you got your eye on next for SS10?
John Skelton: Phil Manzanera and Junichi Abe