Nigerian sisters and the design talent behind NY-based label William Okpo, Darlene and Lizzy Okpo have been interviewed by i.D Magazine, talking about their father (after whom their brand has been named), their new collection and working with Solange Knowles at Puma.
Speaking about their father, who travelled to New York in the ’70s with just $180 in his pocket, the duo reveal;
“We’ve always been inspired by our father because he was our stylist growing up, he took a lot of pride in dressing us.
My favourite jacket he has is a corduroy version of the North Face Snorkel that he got off a crackhead in the ’80s in the Bronx for $20! He’s a hoarder, but he’s very specific. He used to bring us to TJ Maxx every Saturday after we did our grocery shopping. We would stay in the store for two hours, and he’d leave with just one item. We’d play hide-and-seek in the racks to pass the time.”
Explaining to the mag about their beginnings in design, Darlene told i.D;
“Our first collection made its debut at Opening Ceremony in the autumn of 2010. OC was the first store to pick us up as young designers and we say in every interview that we are forever grateful to them for it.”
“They gave us a chance. Carol and Humberto sat us down and gave us such valuable information that we still hold on to and take with us to every meeting. They gave us financial advice – how to calculate patterns and samples – as well as visual advice about how to make a simple collection look so elegant and cool. We’ve really held on to that and we keep it in the back of our mind.”
When it was announced last year that Solange Knowles has been announced as the new creative director at Puma and that she’d enlisted William Okpo to recreate a version of the classic Puma Disc trainers (read about that, here), we at SPICE were excited by the outcome. Explaining a little of went on behind the scenes of the collaboration though, the creatives told i-D that;
“Solange has been a friend for a few years. We work with her on many projects and when she became the art director of Puma, she wanted to curate her collections, not claim she was designing them. She wanted to honour the people that she loves and help create based on what she admires.
She loves visuals so she chose Hisham Bharoocha, Gerlan Jeans, and us. By bringing all of us on, she helped Puma to open up and take a different approach on things. We all connected so well and we really got to express ourselves. There were no rules.”
Their Spring/Summer’15 collection – a thing of beauty that includes matchy two-pieces in baby blue and pink, plus pleats, cutouts and bandana-tie details – had us watering at the mouth when it was first revealed, but The Okpo sisters have explained;
“We didn’t want any boundaries this season; we weren’t trying to please anyone but ourselves. Every season we always try to do something fun, silly, and quirky, and this collection definitely was that.”
Image source: I-d.vice.com