Outerwear made simple – with an accessories designer championing new opulence
Words: Cayleigh Bright | Video + Photography: Nick Gordon
“I’ve worked it out so much in my head it’s ridiculous!” Githan Coopoo says as he talks through the concepts behind his jewellery, and why clay is his medium of choice. “I love how it’s consistently malleable. Fluidity is a concept that I’m embracing at the moment, and I think it comes through with the jewellery because they just change: and when they break, that’s all part of the process. And it’s cheap! I love the idea of elevating a common and mundane material.” After all, he’s inspired by rocks and rubble: because of the fact they’re already got a history, but are still incomplete in a way. “I want my jewellery to also embody the notion of being something that will exist for a period and will change with time.”
If you think that this doesn’t sound like a sure path to financial success, you’d be right. “It’s not a lucrative process. So when I say I’m unemployed, I’m unemployed!” he laughs. His pieces may have taken to the runway of SA Men’s Fashion Week, but without the option of duplicating the pieces, going fully commercial isn’t really an option. It’s when he’s pressed to explain why he can’t just put the pieces in a shop that the core of his concept really comes out: “I’m just terrified of people not understanding that the intention is that when you wear them, you have to be gentle with yourself.”
If fragility is essential for creating beautiful accessories and gentleness is integral to Githan’s notion of self-care, his attitude to clothing stands in stark contrast. When he invests in a piece, he expects it to be built to last. “My personal style is definitely informed by my family and the people around me,” Githan says. I inherit a lot of my clothing from them. My dad has a beautiful archive of clothing and I think I learned from him to really appreciate garments, because he has so much respect for the things that he buys.” Githan’s inherited his father’s respect for pieces that have been designed with careful consideration for fit, fabric and texture. He rejects the notion of clothing itself having a gendered identity – they’re objects, available for wear by whoever wants them. “It’s not as if you’re being androgynous or needing to go into another gender in order to ‘lose’ this one – it’s just acknowledging that the ones that exist don’t pertain to the clothes that are chosen.” After all, there are more important things to consider: “Your clothing can support you, so in terms of silhouettes, it needs to be a confident one. A very physical approach, but, yeah.”
The textured bomber
Githan takes a classic piece – his vintage Levi’s – and adds texture in the form of a suede bomber and a T-shirt featuring cut-out accents. If you’re not a flashy guy but you still value distinctive style, follow Githan’s lead in layering up a patterned or textured tee under a solid-colour jacket. More benefits to owning a soft-to-the-touch bomber? It’s simple enough to throw over what you’re wearing over the weekend, but looks luxe enough to work well with a business or evening get-up.
“I don’t really like wearing garments with text on them,” Githan says. “I’m a big advocate for celebrating silhouettes and structure. Quite often I like to dress in a single colour, then there’ll be something that’ll kind of clash with the rest of things… like for it to be a fully realised concept, and dressing tonally is a way to achieve that.” It also makes assembling an outfit pretty easy: whether all-black everything, or multiple pink pieces beloved of rappers and Tumblr kids alike, various pieces in one colour create the impression as if you’re the kind of guy who never tries too hard but always looks good.
Bet you didn’t know your jacket could do this. Githan’s take on lightweight outerwear doubles the lightweight jacket’s usefulness: it looks just as good tucked into pants in a sportswear-inspired look, reminiscent of 90s hip-hop, as it does worn over jeans and a T-shirt in a more anorak-style, 90s Britpop aesthetic.
The classic bomber
“I’m enjoying simplistic structure: something with a high waist, that’s a bit cinched.” Actually, Githan’s into pretty much anything cinched at the moment – for example, tighter wrist details, like you get from a good cuffed shirt, or a bomber like this one. You probably had a jacket like this when you were a kid, so we don’t need to tell you how to style it, but we can tell you that you’re now allowed to wear it how your parents always told you not to: half-zipped, half-on, half-off. Fashion Week says so.
The worker jacket
“I like injecting a notion of tradition and classicism into a modern world,” says Githan who’s wearing the season’s streetwear staple, the worker jacket, with a vintage-inspired look. It’s that versatile – ready to be worn as part of an athluxe look or with workwear straight out of the world of Mad Men. “On its own, a high-waisted slack is pretty boring. But when you take it to a rave, it’s so much fun, and it really messes with things, which I love. I like the disruption of it. It’s a very slight and subtle disruption – probably not ground-breaking – but it’s enough for me.”