Here: Wish This World Would Last Forever → Rafael Kouto has now established himself as a fashion label associated with audacious, colourful looks and a deeply engaged practice of upcycling. His hands-on approach based on couture craftmanship and an exclusive deal with the collecting and recycling organisation Texaid creates collections of unique pieces. The latest collection emphasises even further the re-made quality of the unique garments, integrating pieces of waste into the designs, allowing the word “waste” to resonate positively with the vastness of a world that we need to take care of.
Fashion + Textile Design
There: Upcycling, remaking, partnering → While further researching how to realise a circular economy for the fashion industry, Kouto’s new designs integrate hand-dyed parachute fabric, bottle caps, recycled ropes and plastic objects and bags. Waste becomes ornaments, with style and forms borrowed from western and African cultures, thus inventing a new hybrid culture for the future. As partners for his practice, Rafael Kouto works with the last hand screen-printing company based in Switzerland, TDS textile printing, Arbon, as well as the designer Sabine Portenier, who runs a textile factory in Thun.
Everywhere: Fashionable sustainability → The designer has attracted much attention in recent years, as his work echoes the many attempts to reflect and look for more sustainable practices within the fashion industry, as it comes under scrutiny for its unfair and unsustainable modes of production. In 2019 he received the Diesel Award and the Lotto Sport Award from the talent platform ITS, as well as the Swiss Design Awards in 2019 and 2018. It is remarkable that Kouto’s practice not only takes action starting at his own scale, but also provides a narrative and a taste for how we can do better with what is already here.
Rafael Kouto → (*1990), Based in Losone and Zürich, www.rafaelkouto.com
Education → MA in Fashion Matters, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam
Project(s) → WISH THIS WORLD WOULD LAST FOREVER, 2019