Dreams are everything to Jokie Riak. A South Sudanese fashion designer and brand owner, Riak constantly dreams and works to bring his events to life. He dreams of creating a fashion house based on storytelling. “The hopes and dreams are amazing,” says Riak. “It’s a great ride, but I can’t just hopes and dreams.” He won’t have to, and he’s already halfway through creating his brand, SAFARIand a collection to premiere in September.
SAFARI is led and organized by Riak along with six other people. The brand focuses on three clothing lines: menswear, womenswear and bespoke clothing, which Riak is particularly enthusiastic about. He launched the bespoke clothing line to connect more with his customers and spend time getting to know each personality, creating something new just for them.
Regarding the origins of his brand, Riak says, “I got the name [SAFARI] because when I was hanging out with my friends… we were going to a lot of places and we knew a lot of people, so they started collectively calling us the Safari Boys. The nickname stuck and flipped a switch in Riak’s mind. This nickname could represent something bigger: a fashion house.
“I have the name [SAFARI] because when I was hanging out with my friends… we were going to a lot of places and we knew a lot of people, so they started collectively calling us the Safari Boys.
Riak’s fashion debut came from his love of storytelling, which led him to date Salt Lake Community College study fashion and business. There he discovers his favorite creator, Martin Margiela. Margiela’s first show premiered in 1989 and left an impression on Riak. “When [Margiela] has been [at Maison Margiela], he was so captivating, so exciting, especially the fashion shows,” says Riak. What appealed to Riak was how Margiela was able to establish her own world and present different parts of it through her clothes. Margiela’s inspiration would then become Riak’s driving force for SAFARI and shape dreamsa capsule inspired by the spirituality of dreams.
For this collection, Riak found himself gripped by world-building and storytelling through fashion. He says, “The name of the whole story is Dreams and nightmares. It’s a two-part story and it’s a two-part collection. The story is set in medieval times and follows two characters, Luna (after the moon) and Light (after the sun). The pair of opposites meet the way dreams and nightmares are intertwined in our psyche. Riak dives deep into unraveling the unconscious with his creations, and how paying attention to our dreams can tell us more about ourselves than we realize.
“The name of the whole story is Dreams and nightmares. It’s a two-part story and it’s a two-part collection.
Drawing inspiration from the anime, each piece in the collection is an integral part of the story, using soothing colors and chiffon to recreate the characters’ journey through the garments. He envisions using a variety of tulle to illustrate the fluidity and lightness of dreams, but also wants to develop the potential symbolism the different materials hold regarding the characters’ stories. To showcase Luna and Lumiere, two representations of light in their own way, he will use reflective fabric, which is gray on the surface but emits a glow when exposed to flashing light. It’s a fashion show but more importantly, an experience.
The dreams collection will also include custom pieces that will not be recreated. “I’m going to use a lot of embroidery to play with the modularity of the clothes,” says Riak, “mainly to make it really hard to replicate.” He explains that this methodology will allow the collection to be inseparable from the history and experience of attending the show. One piece, “The Angel”, stands out for Riak as particularly transcendent of his medium. “My favorite track is definitely ‘The Angel’,” says Riak. “It’s going to be one of the last pieces because each piece will represent a chapter in the story… ‘The Angel’ is going to be really important to the story.” And while he’s keeping “The Angel” a surprise, you’ll be able to see him soon, in September.
Discover Riak’s first collection on September 30 on Holladay City Hall and stay up to date with the artist on Instagram @safarijokie.
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