Darlene and Lizzy Okpo are the masterminds behind their women’s wear collection, William Okpo. The line is inspired by the parents of the Okpo sisters who are daughters of Nigerian immigrants. So far, their collections has illustrated their unique design aesthetic that results from their parent’s immigrant style contrasted with American culture. William Okpo’s brand aesthetic has grown naturally by taking influences from their stylish father. Their dad did not fall into the stereotype of how immigrants from third world countries tend to dress. It is by no accident that their brand is named William Okpo, their father’s name. “Our father was a huge influence because he is vey militant, very stern with his clothes. He spends two hours a week ironing his clothes for the week. Sunday is the big day: He spends the whole entire day making sure his outfits for the day are completely pressed, his ties match, his shoes match…” (Vogue.com)
William Okpo was started in 2010 with simple tailoring that transformed mundane silhouettes into show stopping pieces. The Lizzy and Darlene Okpo enjoy creating simple garments and experimenting with the fabrication and details such as their Willie Overall Pant, a simple wide leg pant that are 100% cotton denim. The Willie Overall Pant features pleats with high front slits and blue metal snaps which all works cohesively to create a comfortable voluminous silhouette. “He [their father, William] told us James Brown was his influence growing up in Nigeria, so he would make sure that he got suits perfectly made: He would buy the fabric for the suite and then get all of them well tailored.” (Intothegloss.com) Each garment birthed out of every collection has evolved into their everyday inspiration of the stylish risk-taker New York woman as their brand’s muse. However, the collection differentiates itself from the average New York woman. “We live in this big, bright city and I don’t want to wear black all the time. I want to wear a big print walking down 34th street or Broadway.” (ModernStichMag.com)
With all of the success that the Okpo sisters have acquired over the past few years, such as being featured on Vogue.com, The New York Times, Refinery 29, and collaborating on with Solange on the classic Puma Disc Sneaker, the Okpo sisters come from humble beginnings. Before launching their label, while striving to finish their degrees, they had to learn everything from the bottom up. The sisters started designing in 2005 at the young ages of 19 and 15 by starting off with a T-shirt line. Lizzy began working at Opening Ceremony, who was the first retailer to carry William Okpo, and Darlene worked as a visual merchandiser for H&M and completed various magazine internships.
Their current Summer 2016 collection features an array of cotton denim pieces with a combination of crisp pleats, bold straps, voluminous silhouettes, deep pockets, and unexpected thigh showing slits. The brand collaborated with illustrator Rashaad Toney to create screen printed a ‘Man’s Face’ that is featured on selected shirt pieces.
William Okpo label is carried in a few New York-based boutiques including Opening Ceremony, for both their New York and Los Angeles locations. Additionally, the Okpo sisters carry their full Spring/Summer 2016 collection in their flagship store that is located on 6 Fulton Street New York, New York 10038.
Featured Image Credit: NY Mag