Oskar Metsavaht’s Osklen has a tale behind its birth full of the striving romanticism that befits any high-performance sports brand. Seemingly, it was born as the result of the needs of a group of Brazilian snowboarders who decided to climb Aconcagua, the tallest peak in the Americas in the mid-1980’s.
The brand has actually been in existence since 1989, steadily building up a following for it’s particular style and ethos, initially based on the demands of high-performance sportswear but gradually shifting to an identity emphasising environmentalism and a laid-back surfer zen outlook on the world.
Like a number of other sportswear brands, Osklen is a unisex brand hoping to appeal to both men and women. But, rather smartly, unlike numerous other sportswear brands that have designed for women with their origins in women’s’ sportswear, it’s perhaps not inaccurate to say that Osklen recognised a gap in the market for clothing for women who lead active outdoorsy lives, but don’t like the idea of ‘sportswear’.
In many ways, it is this move towards designing free-moving, versatile clothes that are still informed by high fashion that might be responsible in recent years for the steady groundswell of its international following reaching dizzying heights. The public hunger, particularly for its newer more structural look that has become something of a mainstay in the collections, seems insatiable.
In almost elliptical pattern, the womenswear has certainly started to inform the approach to the menswear collections. Simple sports garments might remain within the DNA of Olsken’s menswear, but as if clearly evident from the SS11 Oceans collections, the structural approach that has become something of a signature in the wonmenswear garments is increasingly visible in the male clothing. Again, like other brands based in sportswear, Osklen has steadily moved towards speaking to an urbane fashion-conscious male rather than making clothes purely for sportsmen or men who aspire to be sporty. As some of the male silhouettes readily testify, Osklen’s vision of a sporting man is hardly restricted to the clichéd stereotype of the jock.
But, perhaps the most notable difference in approach is that – unlike various others- the clothes are made without the emphatic visibility of iconic logos or branding, again appealing to a more individualistic clientele who shy away from the idea of assuming an identity by association.
Constructed in high-tech flowing, breathing fabrics and restricting its palette to the water-inspired blues of the collections’ inspiration, it also manages to entirely use a colour that definitely seems to be of the moment, judging by its presence in the collections of numerous esteemed designers. In the case of Osklen, however, it really isn’t a platitude to say that it segues easily from beach to chic nightspot. The great outdoors, after all, is in its blood.