Once considered the preserve of the fairer sex, pattern and print has successfully infiltrated menswear closets in the space of a few seasons. Harnessing micro-print, botanical hothouse blooms and ethnic motifs, designers have made a determined effort to challenge traditional perceptions of masculinity in the west by convincing us to infuse a patterned punch into our dressing regimen. With bold motifs sitting comfortably in ready-to-wear collections, it should come as little surprise for swimwear to be the next wardrobe department set for a visually conspicuous overhaul.
The men’s swimwear market has seen rapid growth and development in recent years, with pace-setting brands spotting a gap in the market for well-designed, high quality apparel. Changes in modern lifestyles and dress codes have sparked a demand for greater versatility in clothing – it no longer cuts the mustard to have something fit merely for one purpose. Proving that style and functionality can go hand-in-hand, swimwear designers have stepped up their game to address this issue, offering smart and practical garments that translate seamlessly from beach to bar.
One of the new-and-now labels to emerge from this recent swimwear renaissance is Okun beachwear. Launching the brand in 2012, founder Bola Marquis draws creative inspiration from the traditional patterns and colours of his native Africa. Of Nigerian descent but born in Senegal, Marquis’ design sensibilities are deeply rooted in the heritage and craft of his homeland; this season’s collection references indigenous Congalese Kuba and Ghanaian Adrinka motifs, infused with a retro 1960s-1970s edge.
With a strong focus on fit and shape, each design from Okun will ensure you maintain a sleek profile at all times. The brand offers three fits: Patrice, a tailored mid-length style; Ali, a shorter, boxer cut; and Jomo, a longer board short style.
The standout design from SS13’s aptly named ‘Independence’ collection, are the Patrice Ile shorts. Inspired by the dapper Sapeur gentleman of the Congo, these elegant shorts sport a signature bold and bright allure that is distinctively African. Crafted from a specially engineered quick-dry fabric, these unique shorts are a master class in ethnic cool and luxury craftsmanship.
Okun is passionate about promoting the creative talent and furthering the welfare of the world’s second largest continent, supporting it directly with a proportion of the proceeds from every sale going towards programmes nurturing local design talent and educational development. Although currently manufacturing its garments in Europe, the brand has a ‘Made in Africa’ scheme, with the ultimate goal of producing all of its product in Africa under strong ethical trade guidelines.
So, not only do you have the satisfaction of looking stylish by the pool in a pair of Okun’s, you can also feel a little smug on your next indulgent break, knowing that you’ve done some good in the world.
The SS13 Okun collection, including the Patrice Ile shorts, is available now from okunbeachwear.com, with prices starting from £80.