Giving street wear a different flair
The creatives of Namibia are bursting with raw, organic street culture. One of the current suppliers of this culture is George Shiyepo Illarius, founder and creative director of Presentation of my Life (POM) Couture.
21 March 2019 | Art and Entertainment
Clearing up why he chose to add the suffix couture to a street-wear brand, Illarius mentioned that the term couture represents specific designs that make them stand out. Narrating his upbringing and sharing how that environment influenced his style, Illarius said he grew up at Sauyemwa, a township in Rundu. “Growing up I wouldn’t say I had style back then. Nothing, zero. But the environment we grew up in really played a huge role in the ‘something’ that we are today,” shared Illarius. He is now an entrepreneur and 6th year medical student at People’s Friendship University of Russia.
Four years ago he launched a website POMdigital.com. On this platform he creates awareness on health issues. “Being a medical student, I felt the need to create awareness on some of the heated topics that spark debates in our society and circumcision was and is still one of them. The engagement was good. It was well received.” Around the same time he also co-founded a non-governmental organisation called The Youth Environment (TYE) aimed at sensitising the youth on preserving their environment.
“The following summer holiday we were doing outreach programmes with TYE. When the time came before I left Moscow I purchased a sweatshirt online then printed “POM” on it with a motivational quote and that is how POM Couture was born,” he said, adding that his friends asked him to make more similar sweatshirts and were willing to pay for it.
Illarius is hands-on when it comes to putting designs together and how the logos should be placed on garments. POM Couture however has a team of five members that he bounces ideas off during the creating process until they find the final piece. The team comprises of Esther Thomas, Axel Mukwena, Joanna Illarius, Mashinde Veiko and French Sebastian. “Esther runs all our operations in Namibia, Mukwena is our technical wizard, but we’re all involved in creating the designs,” said Illarius.
The inspiration for the designs is drawn from day-to-day situations the creators go through. “With our last range ‘Sorry 4 the Wait’, I know it sounds like a name of a mixtape, but we had to apologise to our clientele because we faced a halt logistically and couldn’t get our clothes to Namibia on time.
“Before that our summer collection was called ‘Couture Kulture’ - pieces that represented different ethnic groups and their culture,” added Illarius. He maintains that when it comes to designing, POM Couture likes to give themes to their ranges. “That way it keeps us consistent and it lets us tell our stories in a unique way.”
Asked where the clothes are made, Illarius chose to keep that a secret. He however mentioned that their clothes are made from a place of love and skills. “Strings and the stitches of every garment are appreciated and handled with care to make sure that we have 100% premium, high-quality products,” he said.
POM Couture has exhibited their designs on the runway at the Diversity Vogue Russian fashion show in Ryazan in Russia. He described the experience as beautiful; he however looks forward to taking centre stage of some prestigious fashion shows in Namibia. “I am pretty sure they are watching.”
The brand carries a strong hip-hop feel and it is for this reason they decided to align themselves with the hip-hop group Mighty Ill Game (MIG) as their brand ambassadors. “With MIG it really came natural, I felt like we are the leaders of the new school. Besides that their fashion sense is impeccable and they have a strong connection with the youth.”
“I can only do so much. Aligning with MIG helps because they also spread it out to their fan base and so on. Most importantly we have fun with it and it comes naturally,” he said.
Paulus ‘P-Star’ Musongo, one of the members of the rap group MIG, told tjil that POM Couture is a representation of a hustler’s life whose love for fashion means looking good at any cost. “The brand represents hustle in cutting out the middleman and sourcing swag from the factory to the streets. In a world where most brands are profit-driven, POM Couture takes a step back in quantity and sacrifices for the necessary high-end apparel,” said P-Star.
As a way of giving back to his community, the entrepreneur revealed that they are working on gathering funds to construct POM Couture headquarters in Rundu. He shared that the facility will consist of an office space, warehouse, restaurant and fully fledged gym. “With sufficient funding we are projecting to commence construction in the last quarter of 2019,” he publicised.