It is one of the most long-standing love affairs that we know of. Their predominantly parallel paths occasionally interlace to create some of the most imaginative and emotive pieces destined to stand the test of time. What keeps them close is a deeply rooted desire for self-expression, one that is often devoid of any hesitation to cross cultural borders.
We’ve identified with the blatant honesty and “unrefined finish” of contemporary art since long before we set out to be designers. The reflection and provocation it invoked in us as its spectators eventually found its way in our habits as creators.
About two years ago, when Āroka was launched, our first collection was miles away from the stylistic hand we believe we were dealt with. An elaborate assembly of flounce and embellishments, it resembled the festive collection that routinely makes the rounds each year. Statistically speaking, the experience felt rewarding but we were well aware of the lack of sincerity in our sense of self-expression. We spoke no truth. As a result of what may have been displacement due to imposter syndrome, we kept circling back to the honesty we found in the works of Basquiat, Ai Weiwei and Anselm Kiefer, to name a few.
They were fearless and this fearlessness pushed the boundaries enough to erase any rule that came with presenting your expression. Before contemporary fashion began to be applauded for reflecting inclusivity, its artistic counterpart had been ceaselessly fighting for non-conformity of any kind. The surreal rejecting the rational, the grotesque mirroring the unjust and the unorthodox demanding acceptance.
We’re now well into our second contemporary collection, VOID. The more we dug into the inspiration, the more liberated we felt to speak our truth. We design our pieces for anyone pushing the boundaries enough to break the archetype. We like to use raw, handwoven fabrics, every distressed detail is welcomed. Blurring the lines between what is masculine and what is feminine, each silhouette cuts the figure of what you wish to be, the plunging necklines say nothing other than what you wish for them to say and the oversized T-shirts talk rebellion or comfort as per your demand or desire. Your body is unreservedly yours.
Kicking off our Journal, it only felt fitting to first write about what makes us the way we are. Sharing some of our most beloved pieces below:
One domino effect of Ai Weiwei’s confrontation of society’s bitter truths, was us relying on the use of a distressed expression in our textiles. The fraying, rugged features standing in for the loose threads in the society’s social fabric as we know it.
Louise’s work often dealt with uncomfortable themes, she believed that an artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing. Louise never fails us to inspire, urging us to allow creation even when it stems from a place of darkness or discomfort.
As designers, we tend to gravitate towards Chloe ever so often. Her anonymous subjects transmute into these peculiar but intimate sculptures that undoubtedly command your full attention with their imperfections. We credit Chloe for our desire to actively look for imperfections in our drawings and bring them to life nevertheless.
Wool can be straightforward but he never fails to reflect his sensitivity for the troubled. There is something about his keenness to question or console his audience that we took to our collection VOID.
P.S Do keep a tab on the Artist Spotlight series on our Instagram, we love to share thoughts on some of the most remarkable artists of our time.
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Credits: Cover Image by Helena Almeida