Sisterly Success for William Okpo
Few things challenge my mind like young designers, who aim to uphold traditions whilst breaking rules and playing with androgynous shapes and jaunty details. New York based fashion design duo, Darlene and Lizzy Okpo, have done just that, building their career using these modern and traditional elements.
Their brand, William Okpo, was named after their Nigerian father, who immigrated to New York in 1976 with just $80 in savings and a lot of love for his wife, who joined him soon after. What mostly inspired the creative duo was that even though their father worked so hard to achieve the American dream and providing a fulfilling life for his family, he never agreed to compromise or denied his Africans origins. This is why the purpose of Okpo’s collections is to create a unique style, which celebrates an aesthetic built on a foreign sense of style colliding with American cultural sensibilities. The result, as well as the key to their success, is a modern, feminine design refined with masculine elements. It works.
The Okpo sisters, born in the Bronx and raised in Staten Island, started designing in 2005, reconstructing old clothes and making t-shirts at only 19 and 15 years old. They continued to study while still working with passion to build their brand, but struggled to complete their studies whilst committing to internships in magazines and the fashion industry. Too determined and talented to fail, the Okpo sisters found a place in Queens and started to create their unique garments. In 2010, fash-pack favourite Opening Ceremony placed their first order, and since then the Okpo’s career has been going from strength to strength.
In 2012, William Okpo walked its first New York Fashion Week catwalk for SS '13, proving that the Okpo sisters, still under 30 years old, can really play the fashion industry game. In September ‘13, Lizzy and Darlene launched their new womenswear collection SS '14 at the Opening Ceremony BTW* Sunset Takeover party, a charity night supporting the 14+FOUNDATION: an organization devoted to building schools and orphanages for African children in rural communities.
So what's next for these sisters? This month, the ladies launch a new creative collaboration with Puma for the Girls of Blaze collection, inspired by the atmosphere and colours of Brazil. Don’t miss out on these hotly anticipated shoes, out February 2014.
Brighton Fashion Week Guest Blogger