The brand Rafael Kouto is focusing on sustainable design and production systems, mixing upcycling with couture technics and crafts. The main core is the customization and upcycling of mass-produced discarded garments into unique pieces, 100 % remade in Switzerland. The potential of the sustainable design and local production is giving a new value to the discarded materials as the main resource. The cultural background and the business model is based on Kouto‘s own cultural origins mixed with the practice of upcycling and creating an hybrid aesthetic, between Africa and the West. It represents an alternative to the current production in fashion as a new luxury paradigm with the aim is to encourage to recycling and upcycling.
Photographer: Diago Mariotta Mendez
Still life: Simone Cavadini
Website: Leonardo Angelucci
The collection ALL THE NOTHING THAT WILL REMAIN proposes a de-Westernisation of mass-produced discarded garments and textiles, upcycling them into a hybrid aesthetic between Africa and the West. A year ago, Kouto started collaborating with recycling center Texaid in Switzerland, collecting waste garments, textiles, and unusual materials to be transformed into high luxury items. ALL THE NOTHING THAT WILL REMAIN focuses on sustainable and environmental design systems in the creative process, mixing upcycling with couture technics and crafts on three different main layers: prints, embroidery, and weaving. With a background in fashion design and work experience in couture and ethical fashion, Kouto became more critical about the creative process in fashion and the production system. “The starting point of my work is inspired by the quote of the artist Romuald Hazoume: “I send back the West that which belongs to them, that is to say, the refuse of a consumer society that invades us every day” from which I started my personal discovery of the African culture.” The quote is built on the idea of an endless exchange between the West and Africa, fueled by globalization and economy, in which the waste of a consumer society should be sent back to its place of origin. „I want the garments made of waste and upcycled materials to become a statement of new values and meanings of a more sustainable production system in fashion.“
Swiss textile and fashion designer Rafael Kouto recently graduated with an MA in Fashion Matters at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Previously graduated from the Institute of Fashion Design - Academy of Arts and Design - FHNW in Basel, Switzerland. With a professional background in Couture (Alexander McQueen, London 2013, and Maison Margiela, Paris 2015) and Ethical Fashion (Ethical Fashion Initiative, United Nations - International Trade Center, Geneva 2015) and lately for the ready-to-wear brand Carven in Paris. Kouto’s previous collection DRAG ME TO THE AFTER HOUR ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON / THE MOON PARADE, inspired by the evolution phases of the moon, has been shown at the fashion competitions Fashionclash (NL) and Mittelmoda (IT) in 2015 and published on GQ British, Vogue.it, Elle Man Vietnam, Fuckingyoung.es, Viewpoint and Idol Magazine. Kouto’s aim is to continue researching, writing and promoting about the use of upcycling of waste garments and materials in the creative process and into a larger scale production, for his own brand and in the sustainable department of fashion groups.