Founded in 2017, ITS 2019 finalist Rafael Kouto’s eponymous brand has a unique sustainable approach to fashion design and products. The main core is the customization and upcycling of a single curated selection of old textiles and garments. The cultural background and business model is based on Kouto’s own origins mixed with the practice of upcycling, which is very common in Africa. The concept and the hybrid aesthetics, blending Africa and the West, are distinctive characteristics: they represent an alternative to the current production in fashion, a new luxury paradigm which encourages recycling and upcycling.
Thanks to the Lotto Sport Award won last July Rafael had the opportunity to take part in a training course at Lotto's style office, developing and creating garments inspired by the brand's heritage. The capsule collection was created by upcycling a selection of Lotto garments. Rafael Kouto mixed them with stock fabrics, aiming at redefining the concept of luxury. "Escapism Through Unknown Neighboring Lands" is a limited edition capsule collection that recounts the cross-pollination of couture, ethnic fashion and sportswear, reflecting the background and professional experiences of Kouto, in keeping with the identity of the Italian brand.
Rafael was also featured in Vogue Talents recently with a full interview as the winner of the Special Mention by Vogue Talents at ITS 2019. We discover more about the collection he produced for Lotto - which was officially presented at Pitti Uomo 2020 - through his own words, with extracts from his Vogue interview too (you can see the full feature here, though only in Italian)
"In recent years, ready-to-wear has been very much influenced by sportswear" comments Rafael, "The aim of my capsule is to do the opposite: to propose typical sportswear in a couture and ethnic key that reflects my background and professional experience. This collection mixes items and fabrics from the Lotto archive, with prints reinterpreted with camouflage, fantasy and optical motifs, coloured patchwork, thus redefining the concept of luxury".
Many elements in the garments from the Lotto Archive matched Rafael's personal aesthetics: "Sportswear is a world I was always attracted to. Lotto in the past has mainly developed kits for tennis and soccer, but they have been including very extravagant, eccentric details and prints in their collections. Elements which are more common in couture and ethno/African styles rather than in sportswear."
"I've chosen this title for the collection because it describes the apparently mixed feelings I've had both in the past and during the early months of this new experience. On one hand, they tell of leaving my home in Switzerland for a neighboring land, culturally and geographically. On the other hand, I'm describing that feeling when you daydream of faraway lands you love so powerfully they seem to be around the corner, almost within reach."
Next in Rafael's professional life is yet another adventure that has started thanks to ITS: he will be landing in Diesel as the winner of the 2019 Diesel Award to work on a very special project. Stay tuned.