Rio de Janeiro,
Osklen is a Brazilian lifestyle brand which produces clothing, footwear and accessories. It was founded in 1989 by Oskar Metsavaht and is now a subsidiary of Alpargatas S.A. Osklen is also known for adapting alternative and non-traditional fabrics such as organic cotton, Pirarucu fish leather, Amazonian jute and more in manufacturing its products. Currently the company operates stores in Brazil, Italy, USA, Japan, Uruguay and Greece.
The company launched in 1989 by Oskar Metsavaht, an adventure sportsman and orthopedic surgeon with the degree in medicine. Osklen started off as a sportswear and surfing accessories brand, gradually expanding its product line in the early 1990s. The company opened its first store in 1989 followed by the second one in Ipanema in 1991. In 1992, the brand held its first fashion show at the Copacabana Palace Hotel.
In 1999, Osklen started to participate in organic cotton growing projects in partnership with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) and the NGO Esplar, in Ceará, the Northeast Region of Brazil. The same year, the company began producing t-shirts made with hemp consisting of a resistant fiber with no use of chemicals in its production. In 2000 Osklen began manufacturing its first organic cotton t-shirts. Later, the project evolved into a permanent line that used recycled fabrics with prints highlighting key points of the ecological movement. The same year the Osklen Collection line was launched, showcasing a variety of brand products in limited series, without abandoning its connection with traditional sportswear.  In 2006 Osklen launched its first ‘e-fabrics’ products line (environmentally friendly products - in company's own terms), based on research, advances in sustainable materials and new manufacturing processes developed in collaboration with Instituto-E.
In 2012, SP Alpargatas Group bought 30% of the "Osklen" stake followed by another acquisition in 2014. As a result, Osklen became a subsidiary of Alpargatas (which is owned by the Brazilian banks) while its founder Oskar Metsavaht retained a position of the company's creative director. In 2018 Osklen started the ASAP campaign. The acronym stand for "As Sustainable As Possible, As Soon As Possible". The collection was developed with the largest number of processes and materials with the goal to minimize negative socio-environmental impacts. By January, 2020, the company had 75 stores in Brazil (some of them franchised) and a number of retail showrooms in the US, Italy and more.
Brand identity and sustainable development efforts
Since 1998, the company has adapted new methods in manufacturing, applying alternative components as well as more sustainable agricultural and manufacturing processes in addition to traditional fabrics in its brand products. Many sources confirm that Osklen has made substantial efforts in order to re-organize and re-position the brand in pursuing "sustainable development" by producing clothing, footwear and accessories partially using non-traditional materials from the Amazon Forest and other Brazilian regions. In particular, Osklen developed ‘e-fabrics’ or "environmentally friendly fabrics" which have been present across most of its collections in the recent years. Among them are salmon and pirarucu leathers, used in the manufacture of accessories; sneakers, bags and wallets; PET mesh, composed of cotton and polyester fiber from PET packaging recycling; organic cotton, grown without using toxic substances to the environment; recycled tricot, made from defibrated cotton threads, from the reuse of leftovers from the textile industry; and organic silk, made from cocoons.
In 2006 Osklen established and funded Instituto-E, a research hub with the focus on development of new production techniques and materials for the fashion industry. The institution has participated in a number of social and environmental projects related to the economically and environmentally disadvantaged regions of Brazil. In 2009, Instituto-E started Vegetation recovery project with the support of the Rio de Janeiro City Hall, to restore the native vegetation of Ipanema and Leblon dunes. The same year, the organization initiated Water Traces project by entering into a partnership with the Ministry of the Environment (Italy) (Italian: Ministero dell'Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare, also known as MATTM) to analyze the carbon and social footprints of six Osklen e-fabrics products. The multidisciplinary teams of Osklen, Instituto-E and MATTM toured different regions of Brazil, from the Amazon to the south of the country, closely analyzing each stage of the production chain of these e-fabrics. They measured the amount of CO2 released from the collection of the materials used in the manufacture of the pieces until the arrival of the products at Osklen stores. The pieces submitted to this analysis received labels that informed the customer of their carbon and social footprints. The product that had the largest carbon footprint had its emissions mitigated through a project to replace fuel with solar energy. As a result of Osklen's and Insitituto-E environmental initiatives, the company's founder Oskar Metsavaht was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UNESCO in 2011. In 2019, the company received "Green Carpet Challenge Effort" for its contribution in environmental projects.
- O Globo: Alpargatas compra 30% da Osklen ("Alpargatas buys 30% of the Osklen share" - translated from Portuguese via Google Translator)
- Globo.com: Alpargatas assume controle da grife Osklen ("Alpargatas takes control of the Osklen brand" - translated from Portuguese via Google Translator)
- Forbes: Osklen, Brazil's First Global Luxury Brand
- Suited: A poetic vision
- Forbes Brazil: Osklen receives international award of sustainable excellence
- Oskar Metsavaht makes sustainable fashion garments from Amazonian fish skin
- State of Fashion: osklen experiments with the formula of new luxury
- Osklen Founder Oskar Metsavaht Talks Sustainability
- FU: How Brazil’s Osklen became a research hub for sustainable fabrics
- FMD: Oskar Metsavaht
- Vogue Brazil: Osklen celebra 20 anos de inovação em design e sustentabilidade na moda (Osklen celebrates 20 years of innovation in design and fashion sustainability - translated via Google Translate Tool
- Osklen Sustainable Timeline
- Almanaque: Especial Moda
- Hoffmann, Jonas (2013). Global Luxury Trends: Innovative Strategies for Emerging Markets (p.42). Palgrave MacMillan (St. Martin's Press). ISBN 978-1-137-28738-0.
- Forbes: Havaianas Maker Buys 30% Stake In Brazilian Sportswear Label Osklen
- WWD: Osklen Founder Oskar Metsavaht Talks Sustainability
- Company's website
- Dezeen: Oskar Metsavaht makes sustainable fashion garments from Amazonian fish skin
- Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea
- Emerald Insight: Osklen: the aesthetics of social change
- UN News: UNESCO to name three Brazilians as Goodwill Ambassadors
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