Onesimo Bam Uses Kimonos As Canvas To Portray South African Stories

Onesimo’s collaborative spirit inspires his creative process, with each kimono of his being a collaborative work between himself and other creatives – from fine artists to illustrators. The styling of his shows are usually done in partnership with upcoming stylist Tandekile Mkize, and often feature either a spoken-word piece or a rap performance from Cape Town hip-hop artist Uno July.

His brand, oneiam has made admirable strides from its rather casual inception in 2016. Some of his accolades include showcasing at SA Menswear Weeks in 2018 and 2019, as well as screening a fashion film titled Dichotomy at Zeitz Mocca, based on their collection of the same name.

When asked why he chooses to express himself through Kimonos, he said: “I just always had this fascination with Japanese culture. And I really like the shape of the kimono. Anyone who wears the kimono creates their own shape. I like the fact that it’s very… malleable? Is that the word? [laughs]. You can kind of mold it in your own way.”

His fascination with Japanese culture extends to his other influences, he named legendary Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, founder of famed fashion brands Comme Des Garcons and Dover Street Market, as someone he would love to work with in the near future.

But as one would imagine, running a fashion business is not done without any obstacles. Onesimo sheds light on a common obstacle faced when studying any art medium:

“I suck at business and making business decisions [laughs]. At design school, they don’t have intense business classes. That’s kind of something you have to take on yourself. Because they give you a very light course on business, and it’s like ‘oh this is how you sell something.’ But it just does not work like that.”

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Credits for Images:

Creative Director: Kassie Naidoo

Photographer: Marius Strydom

Stylist: Claire Channing

Retoucher: Lorraine Baker

The series of kimonos were curated by Unknown Union.

Models: Bing Tao, Ntombi Maji, Carolyne Wamono, Matthias Lang, Oke Ojukwu, and Caitlin Dobson

Written by Luvo Mahangu.

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