14 January 2015

AJ on OS

To “the goth kid whom everyone evades during lunch break, the pack of punks hanging out at the back of the building, or that offbeat kid who, to be honest, just don’t give a shit” — pardon the labels, but if you relate to these personas in any way — OS is for you.

Latin for “bone”, OS is the name, material and mantra of the street accessory brand established three years ago by partners AJ Omandac and Paul Jatayna. “In history, jewelry loosely started with bones as adornments, either as prize for a hunt or even war. We thought it would really be awesome if somehow we make it contemporary,” shares AJ.

The idea, however, of harvesting real bones was a challenge. Not to mention it’s fairly impossible to export or reproduce it in a humane, let alone environmental method.

It wasn’t until AJ and Paul chanced upon artist Leeroy New, who taught them the basics of mould-making and resin casting. “From there we practiced and experimented until we got it right,” he continues. And OS Accessories was born.

Bone is at the core of everything OS. “Bones are naturally dark and beautiful. The OS design philosophy always revolves around that edgy, and sometimes dark aesthetic,” says AJ.

Looking at the pieces, you’ll see exactly what he means and concede that theirs are creations that can rightfully represent a subculture that continues to challenge the norms. “Edgy” is being overused nowadays but OS Accessories may serve as an accurate definition.

One has to wonder, though: How far can you deviate from the norm while still maintaining a lucrative job? How difficult is it for art and business to share the same space?

“I think design is just that: art and business. Design is not successful if it’s just one or the other. It has to be both beautiful and usable, and therefore sellable,” explains AJ. “It’s a tough balancing act, especially in our kind of environment (our country). That’s why we opted to focus more on the international market. In this scenario we can still practice the brand’s design philosophy without so much compromise.”

He adds that another concern, especially in fashion, is the shifting taste of people. “But trusting your instincts and smart actions will always trump these challenges,” he says.

True enough, following their instinct led them closer to the dream of growing into a respectable fashion house. Since OS Accessories entered the fashion scene in 2011, it appeared in editorials in glossies like Harper’s Bazaar China, Dazed and Confused Korea, and Elle Magazine.

The products also featured in international pop acts’ music videos. One of the Bangtan Boys donned the seacage cap in “We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2”, while the ribcage harness was worn in Girls Generation’s “I Got A Boy”.

“Who would have known that our simple idea of bone jewelry would still be running after three years, and worn by people we only dream of in places we’ve never been to?” ends AJ.

—Originally published on GIST

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