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Sustainable Luxury, the Revelation of a True Brand: OSKLEN

Posted by: Bertrand Chovet on Tuesday, April 17 2012 05:07 PM

Luxury and sustainability can appear paradoxical… but not so.

Invited to 1.618 (www.1618-paris.com) in Paris, it was impressive to see how it was rich in insights, content and innovation. With brands such as BMW and Foundation Jacques Rougerie participating, 1.618, named for Fibonacci’s Golden Ratio, is an annual public event held in Cité de la Mode et du Design. A hybrid of trade shows and contemporary art shows, the event’s focus is on Sustainable Luxury.

Particularly impressive was Osklen (www.osklen.com), a brand created following a trip with a group of Brazilian snowboarders, who set out to climb the Aconcagua in the Andes, the highest mountain in the Americas (6959m). Oskar Metsavaht, a sports medicine specialist who had been on the trip, seeing a need, created athletic clothing for extreme cold. Enjoying immediate success, he decided to launch the specialized jacket brand Osklen in 1989.

Rapidly the collections were adapted to the Brazilian climate. Oskar Metsavaht’s passion for surfing and snowboarding grew the product line to also include lifestyle-inspired clothes for these sports. Inspiration from the mountains and the sea was at the heart of the design, leading in 2002 to the launch of e-brigade and designing its collection from recycled materials.

The earth -- its movement, natural materials, sophistication -- is an endless source of inspiration for this strong brand. No doubt the original quest for adventure, lived in the waves and the snow, informed Osklen’s Winter 2003 Collection, for example, 'Surfing the Mountains.' The Surfing the Mountains Fashion Show highlights this spirit of adventure, available in several episodes. (Surfing the Mountains) Clearly a passion for natural experiences continually inspires Oscar Metsavaht to take a unique and fresh look at the world with all its subtleties and reinvent genuine luxury fashion.

In 2007, WWF-UK named Osklen a ‘Future Maker’ in its report, Deeper Luxury: quality and style when the world matters. The ‘Royal Black Spring/Summer 2012’ collection is indeed a perfect combination of luxury and sustainability, illustrating the primal futurism trend.

Awarded this year with the HEC 1.618 Sustainable Luxury Award 2012, an honor École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris, one of Europe’s premier business schools, and 1.618 initiated to honor innovators in the field of sustainable development. Osklen is definitely a brand to watch for merging sustainability and luxury.

Bertrand Chovet is Managing Director of Interbrand’s Paris office.

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