BOBBY KOLADE MAKES JACKETS LUXURIOUS
Producing all of his clothes locally in Germany, environmentally conscious Bobby Kolade prioritizes sustainability in all aspects of his business. From the Fairtrade fabrics he uses, to the 100% Vegan shoes he collaborated with Mats Rombaut on, this Berlin-based designer constantly looks for ways he can manufacture luxurious items while also minimising any environmental impact that may result from it.
This respect for the planet may be in part due to Kolade relocating numerous time since a very young age. The son of a Nigerian and a German, he was born in Sudan in 1987 and raised in Uganda until he moved to Germany in 2005. After completing his studies in fashion design in 2013 at the Weissensee Kunsthochschule, Berlin (The Academy of the Arts), he packed up once more and moved to Paris, where he gained invaluable knowledge under the tutelage of the designers at Balenciaga and Maison Margiela.
And it’s not only physically that Kolade travels. He also uses different places to emotionally and stylistically inform his fashion collections. Starting with a specific place in mind, be it an office, a courtyard or workroom in West Africa, he injects their unique atmospheres and feeling into each season of clothing. In his Summer ‘16 collection, he transported us to Benin and Nigeria, the bold collection inspired by the expressive Yoruba people.
Whereas Winter ‘13/14 felt more like wandering around a gothic European city like Antwerp or Amsterdam on a wintery day: all oversized coats and wide lapels paired with woolen trousers and fitted blouses.
Image: BOBBY KOLADE, S/S 2015
But it’s this unique marriage of cultures and influences that make Kolade’s designs stand out from the rest. Drawing on both sides of his ancestry and bi-continental experience, he combines European cuts and embellishments (ties, belts) with African fabrics, resulting in a refreshing cosmopolitan look that is entirely new. The BOBBY KOLADE label equals classic shapes, elegant designs and exquisite tailoring. It also means exciting experimentation with fabrics, unexpected textures and cutout detailing.
Even with all of the different influences and styles that Kolade combines, one signature look that remains a backbone to his label is the women’s trouser suit, and especially the jacket. Actually, correction, make that: The Jacket. Right from his second collection, ‘39’ (named after the amount of pieces sewn together to make each jacket), Kolade has reworked suiting over and over again. He cites The Jacket as probably the most difficult item to produce, but a firm favourite nonetheless, and as it turns out, the perfect vessel for experimentation.
For Spring/Summer ‘15, the focus was on the woman’s back and how to show it off (Kolade credits the inspiration to the moment when a woman walks out of the dressing room and turns to check her back in the mirror). The collection featured backless suit jackets with slitted sleeves, smart woolen vests, blazers with a kimono twist, long, luxurious coats and cropped trousers.
Both images: BOBBY KOLADE: A/W 2015
Then for Winter ‘15/16 we saw yet another approach to suiting and outerwear. Working with a touch more vibrancy in both colour and texture, this collection was playful, curious, and eccentric. From bright yellow casual jackets with drawstring waists, blue bombers with glitter patch pockets, short sleeved trench coats in a metallic ice blue, and jackets with bright red exterior hand stitching along the seams, this collection saw Kolade really merge the distinct sartorial styles of Europe and Africa together.
Whether he is making trench coats, pantsuits, tailored blouses, turtlenecks, tapered trousers, or tuxedo jackets, Kolade stays playful and innovative with his fabrics. He consciously avoids leather and fur, instead choosing biologically grown fabrics and alternative materials like hand-woven, untreated cotton from Ethiopia and Bark Cloth. Processed from fig tree bark and purchased from eco-friendly manufacturers in Uganda, Bark Cloth is a Fairtrade fabric and yet further proof that Kolade supports local production efforts.
He does however admit maintaining these values isn’t always easy, when it costs around four times what it could do, just to manufacture in Germany. But he believes the closer he is to the production of the product, the more personal and precious (read luxurious) it will become, for himself and the wearer. The care and attention Kolade puts into his fabric choice, design process and manufacturing is no doubt responsible for the growing numbers of fans he has. His no-shoulder bomber jacket already has a loyal following, and his navy woolen cape has also proven to be a big hit. It seems the reign of The Jacket will continue for some time - as long as Bobby Kolade is around.
Follow him on Instagram here, and check his latest collection here.