JZO, the emerging menswear label run by design duo Joseph Ike and Olamide Akindeinde is a new age label in many regards. It is one of the new wave of predominantly menswear labels ditching the international calendar (which frankly does little for us) and embracing a Rainy/Harmattan calendar. Their catalogue has also taken a distinctly African view point.
2015 saw them take their mission statement of ‘creating clothes that are distinctly African but contemporary, not traditional’ seriously. They shed their initial catalogue of heavily embroidered kaftans and adopted aso oke as their fabric of choice. The result is their Harmattan 2016 collection, Aremo, a lush treatise on the contemporaneity of fabric in the hands of the right designer. Aso-Oke is basically redefined as they ditch the complex print patterns and settle for single block colours, only occasionally dabbling in striping.
The new collection features blazers, pants, shorts and a reimagined white shirt that draws inspiration from Victorian era fashion; ditching collars and cuffs and detailing with a ruched bodice and obvious shoulder closures. The duo also play with lace-up detailing and simple embroidery stitching to piece up their shirts, creating slivers of skin that add a sense of sensuality to their otherwise serious clothing. The whole thing is very much geared towards a younger demographic.
However there are not nearly enough clothes to get a feel for JZO, or even a proper roll-out of editorial images from the new collection to properly understand the direction the duo are aiming for.
And then there are the shorts in the collection, which coast merely on the fabric choices alone. With such interesting material to work with, (the lustre of aso oke and the weight of the fabric allows for more adventurous construction experiments) it seems a shame that Ike and Akindeinde barely apply themselves.
Considering their new concessionary deals with retailer Mei Dei and niche Menswear store Stranger Lagos, they need to offer more than fancy fabric, they need to offer unique clothes.