Words: Aluwani Ratshiungo
The concept store is empty, bar for a couple of people that walk in and browse from time to time. I’m told it’s not always like this though. On some days, they can’t even handle the traffic and other days, like this one, it can be quiet. Luckily, their online store has allowed them to reach customers beyond their 44 Stanley showroom in the rest of South Africa, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and the United States.
As the store assistant and the PR Lady show me around the store, a tall, dark, and lean guy walks in looking like he just walked out of an ODRIN catalogue. He’s dressed in a coat, a striped t-shirt, and dark jeans – all from the store. I soon discover that he is Taire Avbovbo, the founder of ODRIN.
Taire is a typical Afropolitan – originally from Nigeria, he has lived and worked in several different African countries and spent most of his adult life in the USA. Shortly after moving to South Africa, he was struck by the lack of options for high quality menswear at accessible prices so he embarked on a journey to create an African brand that can stand toe to toe with some of the world’s biggest menswear brands.
As a second-generation fashion entrepreneur and Harvard Business School graduate, Taire believes in a retail experience centred on the core values of lifetime quality, the perfect fit, and transparency. At the core of ODRIN’s identity is an ethos of creating value in Africa. Thus, all ODRIN shirts, chinos and belts are manufactured locally at small family owned factories in Mauritius, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“We wanted to create a better way for people to shop,” says Taire. “One of the better ways is to have a wide range of clothing in one spot from casual, to work and evening.”
ODRIN offers a combination of in-house branded items and a curated selection of like-minded premium global brands such as Naked & Famous denim, Merz B. Schwanen, Filson, and Saint. James and they are all manufactured to the highest global standards. They also offer complimentary style consultations and free alterations.
The store is open and light, the interior is minimalistic – an extension of the brand’s aesthetic. But it’s not just about aesthetics, they had to take a lot of things into consideration – like the height of the fixtures – just to make sure that people with average height can reach without struggling. Every single detail in the store was thoroughly thought out with the customer in mind.
The same principle applies to their clothing products. For example, the lining on their suits is made from canvas and horse hair which means that as the suit gets older, it gets better because it moulds to your body. Similarly, their shirts are finished with Mother of Pearl Buttons which are cut from the inner side of pearl oysters meaning they don’t dissolve after repeated wash and give depth of color to all their shirts.
“Most suits that are made locally are fused and the problem with that is that as you dry-clean it and as you wear it overtime, it’s not comfortable because you literally have a big layer of glue and it’s rigid. As you dry clean it starts separating so you start seeing bubbles,” says Taire. “Stuff like this, beyond just like the pattern and look, those are the kind of things we pay attention to.”