Breaking Through With OZO

Breaking Through With OZO

Find out how two b-boys came together to establish a brand committed to serving the ‘breaking’ and hip-hop community here in India.

‘OZO’ is an apparel brand dedicated to the ‘Breaking’ or ‘Break-dance’ community and hip-hop dance culture here in India. Co-founded by Rahul Singh Yadav aka ‘SAGE’ and Sunny Thapa, popularly known as ‘B-boy Funky Monkey', the label is inspired by the local subcultures of breaking, hip-hop, b-boy, and other avenues like adventure sports.

The two partners came together to pursue their shared passion for wanting to collaborate art with fashion and ‘OZO’ was born in 2014 out of the sheer determination to bridge the existing gap between hip-hop dance culture and the lack of its representation in clothing here in India.

Through their brand, the founders try and connect with the culturally inclined youth of today and serve them with a new language in fashion that allow them to pursue and deliver their talent while representing their community.

OZO

"We sensed a need that there weren’t enough clothing options available for the breaking community. Very few clothing brands back then catered to distinct sartorial choices of b-boys. Most of us had to go shopping at thrift shops or were forced to splurge on expensive international brands if we wanted to standout. We both saw an opportunity and wondered whether we could fill this gap."

Rahul & Sunny

B-boys in the same hip-hop dance crew, Rahul and Sunny have known each other since their college days. Rahul - a visual artist heavily inspired by hip-hop and street culture, started off as an art director at an advertising company before steering off to establish ‘OZO’ along with Sunny, additionally also co-founding the ‘Floating Canvas Company' - an art-on-subscription service.

Sunny, on the other hand was determined to make it as a dancer. He was a member of India’s first breaking crew — ‘Freak N Stylz’ and bagged some major dance collaborations under his belt with the likes of Levi’s, Tuborg and Red Bull. Sunny travelled the world representing India in international dance competitions like ‘Radikal Forze’ Jam in Singapore and ‘Respect Culture’ in Taiwan, before returning home to join Rahul in co-founding and creative directing OZO.

OZO

"Finding the right name took some time. Truth be told, both Sunny and I felt that a deep, philosophical name may restrict our creativity. So we ended up making a long list of names, but none of them appealed to us. Finally, we decided to shuffle a few letters around and 'OZO' was born. OZO is a versatile name with no constrictions. It can be seen as streetwear, casual wear, high-end to some - it is upto the wearer to decide."

Rahul & Sunny

OZO’s identity and design sensibility stems from the origin and genesis of ‘breaking’ — the streets. Wanting to reflect the grails of street culture, OZO dabbles mostly in minimalistic and simplistic designs like long, over-sized basic t-shirts, baggy pants and loose-fitted shorts.

The brand’s visual style and aesthetics draws creative inspiration from old-school graffiti, athletic symbols and tribal tattoo graphics and are also influenced by the works of designers like Errolsun Hugh, Nigo, Craig Green, Yoon, and Jun Takahashi.

One of the main focuses of the brand is getting the technical rendering of the designs perfect for the break-dancing market. It’s all about quality and comfort merged with art. The fabric and garment construction is always on point while making sure that each piece of clothing reflects the breaker’s language and terminology.

"One of our best-selling designs the ‘RESPECT BEATS’ is quite simple and self-explanatory to breakers. The ‘B’ from the b-boy or b-girl stands for ‘beat’ or ‘break’ and it’s really important for breakers to match the beats with their moves. And we managed to translate this idea beautifully on a T-shirt. This concept alone helped us to reach breakers on an emotional level all around the world. The success of this idea has led us to come up with ‘Version 2.0’ which might drop this November."

Rahul & Sunny

OZO

As creatives, Rahul and Sunny do no follow a stringent method when it comes to their design process. Sunny plays the role of the architect behind the ideas for the construction and silhouettes, and Rahul is the mastermind, taking control of the creative direction. A collaborative effort in every sense, Rahul discloses how Sunny tells him what he wants the canvas to ideally look like and the former tries to paint and bring it to life.

Additionally, OZO as a brand does not follow the conventional season based format for their drops, allowing them the freedom to launch collections at their own pace, in a more mindful manner.

The two have also faced a few hardships during the journey in the administrative front, but persevered due to their drive and belief in the solution. It is this belief and passion that has helped them sustain and grow as artists.

"We owe everything to breaking and the streetwear culture, because it has shaped us into the people we are today. We are what we are because of it, and OZO is our modest attempt to give back whatever we have taken from the culture. Artists all around the world raise the bar every day and we hope to join their ranks soon."

Rahul & Sunny

OZO

The two are currently working on streamlining their brand while they continue to create art with an honest heart and good intentions. Without succumbing to the pressure and rush of the industry, they are taking their time in perfecting their designs and constantly learning and evolving to keep up with the ever-changing tastes of the youth. Check out their latest drops on their official website!

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