Here at Style Out Here, one of the things that I most closely associate with Canada is its emphasis on diversity, and strength as a country as a result. So I don't think there's any better way to mark this 150th Canada Day than to do a brand feature that showcases some of the incredible and diverse people who have contributed their rich culture and style into this community.
Orange Guice is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting new small collections in YYC because, like other brands such as Alora Boutique, it brings refreshing and new grassroots cultural aspects into our formerly static fashion and social scene. Featuring chokers and other small pieces (for now), founders Erica and Louis are aiming to connect their different passions through a socially transformative medium of fashion and art. For more on the brand, their background, and future plans, check out my interview with Erica and Louis below (and check out some of their beautiful choker designs in the photos):
So first off, what is your name and what is your own creative background inside and outside Calgary?
We are Orange Guice. We are an artisanal guerilla fashion brand. Orange Guice is a conceptual brand created by Erica Effah and Louis Cza. Separately, we have individual projects and ambitions in the Calgary urban scene. For that reason we’ve come together to push forward our vision for an intellectual and expressive Pop culture/ West-African brand in Canada. Due to our creative personalities, Orange Guice utilizes creative and artistic approaches to create unique artisanal clothing and accessories. Here’s a little background on each of us individually:
Also known as YYC’sFashion + Lifestyle + Business blogger— Styled By: Tiwaa. Erica is a young Ghanaian-Canadian woman. She is currently working towards achieving her Bachelor’s in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Supply Chain Management and a minor in Anthropology. In addition to this, she has many ambitions alongside fulfilling her education. One of the main goals she strives for is achieving an atmosphere of positive self-expression through challenging personal creativity in the world of fashion and business. In doing so, her blog is a safe space for anybody to visit and enjoy innovation. You can also find her on instagram @styledbytiwaa.
Louis Cza is a Nigerian-born musician and artist who currently resides in Calgary. He belongs to the art group, Roman66. He is currently studying Marketing and has a minor in Computer Science at Mount Royal University. Louis has recently dropped 2 full-length music albums. Louis is also a painter and sculptor who creates expressionist, contemporary, cubist and abstract forms of art. Louis recently performed at The Hifi Club and Broken City for the 2017 Sled Island Festival which was curated by Flying Lotus. Louis’ own artistic pursuits stretch into the visual realm, with his abstract paintings mirroring the urban feel of his music. It’s understandable, actually, considering how closely the musical and visual arts actually work in concert for Louis Cza, due to him having the rare neurological condition synesthesia. Louis wishes to enrich culture through art, music and style.
How did you get to this point where you’re starting a clothing line? What inspired you to start Orange Guice?
The establishment of Orange Guice dates back to September 2016. So it’s been nearly a year since it’s come to life. How we got to this point has definitely been a long journey full of lessons and experiences. Prior to this business, we were already friends. We met back in the first year of university. It was only a matter of time until we really connected in our passion for the arts and fashion. Louis came up with the name of the brand. We were both interested in similar styles of clothing because we adore West African culture and vibrant colours.
For most, 2016 was a year of learning through turbulent situations. We know that many would agree with us on that. This brand was an incentive to turn negative emotions and situations around in our lives and the lives of others. So when we reflect on how Orange Guice was created, it was just two friends indulging in an idea to uplift the sub-par year...But here we are today about to launch this summer and we couldn’t be more excited!
For most of us who aren’t fluent with the cultural roots behind the designs, can you tell us a little about what sort of specific connections these designs have to the brand’s Afro-fusion background? Are there any particular stories or beliefs that influenced how these pieces ended up looking?
Our particular prints that we have chosen are called Ankara. They are wax-printed and are found in most African countries. Many ankara prints have individualistic meanings to them. Orange Guice uses a variety of different colours and patterns to portray the motifs of African proverbs. Additionally, we have a fruitful theme to our brand. For example, our first line of chokers are inspired by the pollia condensata. Also known as, the “marble berry”. This fruit is found in West African regions such as Angola and it contains a variety of colour once light hits its surface. This mirrors our brand because of its characteristics and its heritage.
What sort of audience are you aiming to reach with this brand? Many people are (thankfully) starting to catch on that they can’t simply adopt other cultural practices or designs without any discussion or understanding of said culture, so are these pieces something that anybody can (or should) wear? What would you want people to understand or consider about these rich cultural connotations before wearing these pieces?
Our aim is to target creatives and intellectuals who appreciate unique artisanal clothing. However, it is not completely limited to this audience. We say this because our designs target the individualistic persona. In other words, we encourage people to wear what they want with respect to the history.
I’m always super excited to see more diverse and creative brands coming up in Calgary, as a place known for its fairly staunch stylistic and social conservatism; what niche are you looking to fill here, and what kinds of of things do you think this brand can do for our city (inside and outside the fashion realm)?
As much as we’d like to say we have a specific niche, we don’t. This is mainly because of the concept of our brand. Our brand cannot necessarily be put into a box until is fully out there. Having said that, we don’t want to put a specific restriction on it. Not to say that we don’t have an idea of who (the “individual”) our brand would most likely appeal to, but that our brand is very open.
This brand can bring awareness to cultural appropriation. We are hoping that it will allow people to ask questions to become educated about diversity. In pursuit of this, we hope that people will learn that it’s okay to celebrate each other's cultures through love, respect, and knowledge of history.
Lastly, where are you hoping you can take this brand in the future? Are you looking at keeping this line as an everyday kind of wear, or possibly extending it out into higher fashion or other realms?
Ideally, we’d like this brand to circulate worldwide. Being able to provide an everyday fashion for people will always be the goal. But we’d love to take our brand into higher fashion one day and display our designs in their true art forms.
With respect to our products, we have started with chokers, ties, and paintings for our launch. But look forward for more artisanal products to come soon.
With their inaugural launch just this week, keep up with @orangeguice on Instagram to see when they launch all their pieces!