I see couture as an escape from capitalism, investigating the life cycle, disrupting it through upcycling of clothing and other materials, in relation to globalization and consumerism.
Rafael Kouto is an avant-garde, experimental and conceptual fashion brand with integrity and purpose established in 2017. The brand is characterized by a distinctive, visionary aesthetic merging the African and Western culture.
The brand is cultivating an uncompromised approach to sustainability as it exclusively uses the technique of pre- and post- consumer upcycling to create new clothes and accessories.
It also guarantees high quality and unique items exclusively remade in Switzerland by using local manufacturing, refined with traditional, artisanal couture techniques and crafts.
Rafael Kouto is a brand that aims to move the textile industry forward towards greater impact in environmental sustainability, increase access to high quality, creative and affordable fashion that stands out from the mass market offer and that hits the zeitgeist.
Rafael Kouto (*1990, Lucerne) is a Swiss, with Togolese and Italian origins, fashion & textile designer and researcher in upcycling methods and sustainable strategies with a particular focus on open source and craftsmanship. He studied Fashion Design at FHNW-HGK in Basel, earning an MA in Fashion Matters from the Sandberg Institut in Amsterdam. He has had various work experiences at Alexander McQueen, Maison Martin Margiela, Carven and Ethical Fashion Initiative. In 2017 he founded the avant-garde upcycling couture brand of the same name, of which he follows the creative direction, the development of strategies, collaborations and engaging projects for the promotion of upcycling and sustainability through the use of textile waste, dead stock and others materials in the creative and production process. The brand has numerous awards and recognitions winner of the Lotto Sport & Diesel International Talents Support Awards 2019; winner of the Swiss Design Awards in the Fashion & Textile category 2018 and 2019 and finalist 2020 and Gebert Ambiente Design Preis 2020-2021. His vision has been featured in Vogue Uk, Vogue Italia, Harper Bazaar Italia and Dazed among other prominent publications. The collections have been exhibited at the State of Fashion Biennale (NL), Furisalone (IT), Drapers Sustainable (UK), Textilmuseum St. Gallen (CH) and Museum für Gestaltung (CH) and are also part of both collection archives and presented at Mode Suisse, Zürich (CH) and Fashion Open Studio x Berlin Fashion Week (D).The promotion of upcycling takes place through workshops in collaboration with various institutions and through teaching as associate professor in Fashion Design at the IUAV in Venice. During the residency at the Istituto Svizzero in Milan, his reasearch has been focusing on the development of participatory projects related to sustainability, upcycling, climate change and open source in the creative and production process in fashion and textiles.