When discussing the future of menswear in the west, there is talk of futuristic styles, leaning away from traditional tailoring and an attempt to evolve the male silhouette while remaining close to the recognisable ideas of the masculine form. There are very few attempts to bridge a connection from the past and bring its styles to the future.
It could be argued that the idea of fashionable menswear is a fairly new expression and lacks maturity and depth. However, there are plenty of places in the world we can all travel to for a different approach to the idea of modern menswear.
One artist and creative that is embodying the intersection between traditional and modern, is the talented Patrice Kouadio, who brings a fresh perspective to contemporary menswear.
Understanding the difference in rich cultural levels that create the beautiful identity of Africa's fashion scene is what Patrice deeply understands and excels in. Originally from the Ivory Coast, he now hails from Marrakesh and has embedded his transitional journey into his approach to style. Effortless chic in babouches (handmade leather slippers which can be worn in or outdoors depending on the sole), loosely tailored pants and a printed button up is a look I can get behind.
Noisin discussed the Kouadio influence from his surrounding cultural reference, how the fashion industry is shaping up in Africa and the emerging launch of his brand TRAVEL. And to be honest, after talking to this delightful person, his articulation, passion and vibrancy is something I think we all need right now.
ND: Can you explain the different approaches to style between your origin country Ivory Coast and your adopted home of Marrakesh?
PK: In my opinion, the approaches between the two is practically the same. Whether in Abidjan or in Marrakesh, people rely on societal, cultural or even religious influences to shape their clothing identity.
Indeed, in Ivory Coast, we are witnessing a plurality of ethnic groups with different cultures and aspirations, but this does not prevent Ivorians from being free in their choice of clothing style, which can be traditional for important occasions such as a wedding or a cultural festival, modern for our everyday life or even traditional-modern, the golden mean, to reinforce our self-image in modern society.
While in Marrakesh, we face a traditional style, contrasting air-conditioned babouches (local slipper) the best expression of style made locally and djellabas (a long and majestic dress with different cut). These occupy an important place in the local clothing habits for men, which today evolves considerably in a mix with modernism.
Moreover, this mix seduces more and more of Marrakesh, in the sense that this traditional-modern style is not limited only clothing style but also finds its place in the lifestyle, architecture and interior design.
ND: And how do you blend these styles to make it your own?
PK: As a cross-cultural person who is proud of my origins and interested in style, I am always interested in the fashion and influences from other cultures.
Living in Marrakesh is an opportunity for me to see a number of styles not just locally but also from visitors around the world who visit and live in our city.
I like to mix certain elements that are a part of Morocco’s clothing culture, such as babouches, which I find comfortable to wear and readily available.
I am rather satisfied with this mix. I strongly advise everyone to consider babouches for spring and summer.
ND: What are your signature pieces from your wardrobe?
PK: To tell you the truth, I have a lot of my designs in my wardrobe. My favourite two creations from my SUNKECH set, is an elegant shirt and pant set in yellow coloured linen with an oversized look to represent the sun of Marrakesh, a sun that marks for life which can be testified by all that have travelled here. Another signature piece is my ARTYKECH set, is a fluid shirt and pant set that celebrates the artistic aura emanating from the beautiful medina.
These unique pieces are from my clothing brand, called TRAVEL. I created the brand with the aim of celebrating the aesthetics of Marrakesh, to show the new face of a postcard that is worn in itself, an opportunity to give added value to the male wardrobe that never ceases to demand strong pieces, but above all to invite travelers to get closer to our indelible memories past, present or even future.
If the universe does not allow you to visit Marrakesh yet, you can make space in your wardrobe for some unique strong pieces that will allow you to get closer to the essential things that actively participate in your fulfilment, your memories or hopes of future travels to this endearing city.
ND: We hear that you’re in the process of launching your fashion line, TRAVEL. Can you give us an insight into the brand and what it means for you?
PK: I'm delighted to hear that, indeed, I'm in the midst of developing my limited-edition menswear brand. TRAVEL is a brand that invites its TRAVEL(ers) - those wearing the garments - to travel in the true aestheticism that our beautiful Africa offers. Of course, my pieces can also sublimate women, if they wish.
Through our elegant and timeless pieces, we will make palpable your memories of indelible travels of the past, present and future on the African continent, giving life and above all, added value to your dressing room.
TRAVEL. It’s an opportunity for the Travel(ers) to discover the new face of the postcard that is worn within itself, allowing you to cherish your indelible memories even more.
For me to carry out this project is a way for me to strengthen my relationship with fashion by giving value to the male wardrobe and above all, to promote African aesthetics.
ND: How did the idea for TRAVEL come into existence?
PK: The idea of TRAVEL came to me thanks to the trip I undertook from Ivory Coast to be able to continue my studies in Marrakesh, Morocco.
During my studies, I was striving to explore what this city had to offer me.
I was searching for a springboard to nourish my creativity, test my skills and above all to affectionately contemplate another unique aestheticism, a development of the rich cultural energy here in beautiful Africa.
ND: What can we expect from a future TRAVEL collection?
PK: Structure, elegance, simplicity, beauty and art... such is the aura that will direct the future TRAVEL collection.
ND: We understand the challenge of starting a fashion label is a mammoth task for anyone, as there is so much involved beyond the creation of garments. With that in mind, what are your plans to break into the market?
PK: You said it so well, creating a clothing brand is a huge task, that's why time and reflection are my allies in bringing my project to fruition.
Having said that, my plan to reach the market is simple, in the sense that my brand is aimed at people who want to make their memories of trips to Africa palpable.
A way for these TRAVEL(ers) to get closer to what contributes to their fulfilment and joy when wearing the collection.
ND: Given the issues that we are experiencing with worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, how is your local textural and fashion industries adapting and changing to the challenges?
PK: With this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, I can tell you that the local textural and fashion industries are in slow motion. Nevertheless, courage and determination are driving them for a better tomorrow.
ND: We are excited to see what develops from Africa regarding menswear and the future of the fashion industry. What difference do you see within menswear contexts between the western approach to style and the local influence of your home city Marrakesh?
The future of menswear fashion in Africa is very promising, in the sense that today Africa is facing a creative youth that intends to further promote African aesthetics. A motivation, that in my opinion, will give added value to the menswear wardrobe.
The difference is the cultural level. Unlike Westerners who bet much more on a modern style, Moroccans takes support from their unique traditional style that allows them to solidify their identity.
An advantage which allows them today, to open up to a mix with modern fashion.
ND: Finally, we love your blend of traditional style with modern referencing. My favourite is the Sponge-Bob head scarf matched with the rope crown. Do you always approach fashion styling in an intersectional manner?
PK: Thank you for your appreciation, as well as creating clothing designs, I also model.
This picture is a magnificent artwork entitled ''Sponge baba'', made by the talented Belgian-Moroccan photographer Mouslamrabat and styled by Lisa Aswel from Belgium.
The picture was exhibited at the exhibition ''A GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM, Deconstructing Stereotypes”, an exhibition curated by Alessia Glaviano and Francesca Marani for the fourth edition of Photo Vogue Festival in November 2019 at Base Milano in Italy.
To answer your question, as a model, it is always an honour for me to work in an intersectional approach when I have the opportunity because this approach totally awakens everyone's consciousness. I invite everyone to discover the universe of photographer Mouslamrabat, you will not be disappointed.