Robyn Agulhas Blurs the Lines Between the Virtual and Real With Her Utilitarian Streetwear Collection

The fashion scene is one such space where time seems to function in a non-linear manner. With designers having to do the work of continuously looking back at what has been done as a source of inspiration, while simultaneously looking to the future for what is to come next. This non-linear experience of time and mode of creation can be detrimental to brands as pioneers of a certain aesthetics may launch collections that receive little attention or be branded as unoriginal and/or lazy for those fashion houses that simply jump from trend to trend.

Fortunately, the graduate collection by Robyn Agulhas under her brand sinCHUI finds an elusive middle ground. The collection looks to the future, incorporating QR Codes within the garments and making use of iridescent reflective materials to essentially change the whole look of a fit when a photo is taken with flash, all while having its themes firmly located within the ever-changing present:

“my collection was created around social media and how attached we are to our devices so I created technological adaptation to certain pieces within my garments. The orange element reflects the use of social media and how it allows us to be constantly connected to the rest of the world in the touch of an app”.

With a tech-centric theme, and the requirement to design within a specific trend, Robyn took to trend forecasting site WGSN to establish the look and feel of the collection to accompany the already strong thematic aspects she had planned to work with and as such settled on their Techtility AW 19/20 report. Centred around aspects of utilitarianism, tech-wear has been popping up far more prominently as of late having bridged the gap from high-end streetwear with the likes of Acronym to being an essential part of Samuel Ross’ mind-bending luxury brand A-Cold-Wall. Although obviously reluctant to look at a singular brand too much, Robyn does mention A-Cold-Wall and Samuel Ross as massive inspirations. Which makes total sense because as mentioned above he truly pushed the Techtility aesthetic and functionality beyond the limited  confines tech-wear was placed within.

The streets of Tokyo and more specifically Harajuku Style also played a role in Robyn’s design process, not necessarily by inspiring the collection’s aesthetic proclivities but rather  by serving a palette refresher- something different and interesting to get her own creativity flowing again,

“On days that I had a creative block while designing my graduate collection I scrolled through the images of Japan. Harajuku fashion is one of my favourite sources to look at for inspiration. It’s bright, dark, quirky, cute- everything I feel about fashion. I love the silhouette of Japanese fashion the oversized look and attention to quality and detail. I might not have taken inspiration from a specific trend Japanese designers have done but I have taken inspiration on the principals of their design… Japan is the most fashion-forward country in the world. Whether it’s the ability to hone in on niche audience obsessions or the cultural and futuristic, tech-heavy lifestyle, Japan is a boundary-pushing nation creatively.”

To a certain degree, this inspiration carries over into the collection in more ways than one with a couple of pieces having elements of Tokyo’s streets sprinkled over them. Take for example the wide raw hemmed jeans paired with a padded gilet, that looks like it could be straight from exclusive Japanese brand Kapital, and you have a curated look that would not look out of place in Harajuku, Shibuya or even the high fashion streets of Ginza. Now it is important to note that this was only Robyn’s graduate collection, an extremely good collection, but a collection that had to be situated within a specific trend as mentioned. As she moves forward on her creative journey and grows sinCHUI as a brand it is safe to say we’ll see a more fleshed out and established sinCHUI aesthetic.

By this, I in no way I mean stagnant, but rather building on and adapting work she has released. As she herself puts it best, “we just have to discover our own true identity with fashion. [With] my graduate collection [what] I did was more streetwear but that is what inspired me. We are constantly growing and the more we learn and absorb the more we grow creatively. So, I would like to evolve but still maintain my own signature to my designs”. With her graduate collection being but a taste of what we can expect, there’s no doubt in my mind that Robyn Agulhas and her work with sinCHUI will soon be on all fashion lovers in SA’s lips.

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