Stylecabin interviewed the free thinker and global entrepreneur on her ethical luxury brand, Okapi and on what sustainability means to her. Here’s what we found out!
What does Sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is a term that is now thrown around in the media, but when I began my brand in 2008, my view of “sustainability was about creating an ecosystem, local economies, and harnessing local supply chains.” I am not so interested in fashion on its own. I am more interested in what the big problems are and finding solutions to them. For instance, a lack of education and employment in a continent with an abundance of resources.
I would like to challenge the perception of Africa as a place where you go to get materials rather than go to make the finished product. I am looking to ensure that every single element of the brand (be it the metal works, or ostrich farms) makes an impact on the community that is long lasting and sustainable and contributes to broad economic growth and a brighter future.
And how does your brand achieve that?
My goal is to create a socially conscious brand that creates a sustainable lifestyle for everyone contributing to it, using artisanal organic materials, handmade with very ethical labor practices: A brand that builds people up with specialized skills rather than one that relies on machines or low skilled labor. Okapi works closely with farming communities with the aim of building them up. It may be a small social impact but the hope is to inspire others.
“Creating a social impact, one step at a time…”
Brand’s Target Market
Who did you create the range for?
I created the range for international, young, trendy, daring, looking for high quality, unique pieces to add to their wardrobes. They don’t think about buying outfits every day. They are more interested in quality. The price is high but the range is full of beautiful pieces that are fair trade and handmade rather than machine made.
How to Wear an Okapi Bag:
Pair with simple block and monotone colors so that your Okapi handbag can take centerstage in your overall look.
Where to Wear it:
What to Wear for a winter escape to Cape Town or you can take the African chic to NYC like Leonie has done below:
What did you want to achieve or create?
I wanted to separate Africa from the perception of charity like giving a percentage of the business to charity for example. Instead, the aim is to empower people, create jobs, and a thriving supply chain. You feel like a part of something. There is room for the private sector to do more to provide apprenticeships, skills, mentoring and opportunities for young people.
Latest collaboration: Okapi X Quentin Jones
“Renowned mixed-media artist Quentin Jones, and luxury, African accessories brand, Okapi, have collaborated on two limited edition sustainable handbags. These two pieces are a fusion of Okapi’s commitment to using disregarded and forgotten materials with Quentin’s signature surrealist style to create a ‘patchwork’ masterpiece. Okapi works only with sustainable materials from locally sourced, commonplace livestock such as Ostrich; the leather from which is a bi-product of the existing free range farming industry in South Africa. Both bags are made from sustainably sourced Ostrich leather.” By Agora world. Find out more on: https://agoraworld.co Ends Dec 31!
It’s Your Turn:
Now that you know more about ethical luxury brand, Okapi, why don’t you head over to get one of the brand’s gorgeous bags on their website or to one of their stores. See below:
- OKAPI – 40 Eaton Terrace, London, SW1W 8TS Telephone – +44 (0) 203 4177 172
- OKAPI, Trumpet Building, 19 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196, +27 (0) 10 594 5157
- MERCHANTS ON LONG, 34 Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 422 2828