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Jamaican fashion

December 1, 2014

In the past we’ve taken a look at different aspects of ethnic tribal influences in Western fashion. This week we’re going to take a slight detour and look at Caribbean influences on modern fashion – with a focus on Jamaican fashion

Jamaican influences in Western fashion – Traditional dress

Our traditional view of Jamaican fashion is one of beanies, the “tam,” dreadlocks, headscarves and bright colours. Fabrics like calico cotton and no heavy clothes (this is after all the Caribbean and the weather is hot). Although to a large extent some people may still dress this way, it is not a true reflection of Jamaican fashion, which is vibrant, yes colourful, but modern and futuristic.

Tradition, belief and passion

The 3 colours red, green and gold that we associate with Jamaican fashion clothing do have a significance – the red stands for blood of the African people, yellow for stolen gold and green for lost African lands. It provokes some powerful imagery. Jamaican culture itself is a mix of cultural influences which makes for an exciting aesthetic when it comes to fashion, with African and European influences thrown in.

Jamaican fashion - Jamaica_flag_map



Jamaican fashion – The future’s Caribbean

To help things along the Caribbean Fashion Week has been going now since 2001 and boasts some famous visitors such as Kelly Rowlands. What Jamaican fashion demonstrates and perhaps most of the Caribbean, is that they’re not afraid of colour and know how to use it effectively in the form of prints, block colours matched together, or fused with prints. There’s a vibe of nostalgia and futuristic elements, sometimes mixing old island magic with western style.

Who should we be looking out for in the coming years from the Caribbean?

To start with we have a famous name in the form of Cedella Marley, yes the daughter of Bob, she’s already worked with home furnishings and come up with her own range of “Catch a Fire Brand,” blending a mix of vintage and urban. On her radar next is a men’s Jamaican fashion range “Marley Apparel,” something worth looking out for.


Next we have Meiling this time from Trinidad – her style is sharp, modern with a mix of bold prints, checks and bright colours. She’s well known in her own country and counts many local celebrities as her clients.


Claudia Pegus is again from Trinidad, and her “Resort” collection for 2015 is a mix of modern and traditional with a relaxed island feel.


Alicia Mullings is based in London and combines bright stand out prints and textiles with both an urban and feminine feel. There’s African elements in there too – illustrating perfectly the combination of European, African influences and Jamaican fashion.

Jamaican fashion Rudeboy style

Another influences that’s already visited England’s shores is the Rudeboy look. A Jamaican fashion subculture similar to the 1950s teddy boys and punks of the 70s, it represented rebellion, and the dissatisfaction with unemployment and lack of food and housing in Jamaican shanty towns (sound familiar?). Its look was immediately identifiable with pork pie hats, shiny shoes, mohair suits and Ska music.


It came to England in the 70s and 80s before fading away – but not for good. It may be back, but this time it’s not rebelling against anything, but takes its influences from art, music and fashion. This time it’s about style, attitude and expressing individuality.

Want a little Caribbean style?

If you want to adopt a Jamaican or Caribbean influenced look, then scan the internet for inspiration from the Jamaican fashion designers we’ve looked at today, or find your own.


If you want to put an Jamaican fashion outfit together fusing contemporary and Caribbean style, then mix bright colours together, or monotone shades of black and white. Heavy and light fabrics, patterns and prints, checks all worn with contrasting colours. Be bold, be brave, mix vintage, modern and plenty of colour for a mix of nostalgia and futuristic aspiration.



CFW 2014 Mesh, Rattan and Tropical Prints for Jehan Jackson’s “Vain Glory”

cedella marley


Meiling Esau

Meiling-Last Train to San Fernando

Claudia Pegus

Claudia Pegus designs

Alicia Mullings

Afrocentric Bohemia from British Designer Alicia Mullings kingstonstyle

Finally a list of new designers on the horizon featuring Azede Jean Pierre, Kimberley Goldson, Stella Jean and Courtney Allegra.

azede jean perre-spring-2015-nyfw

Kimberley Goldson

Kimberly Goldson Spring 2012

Jamaican fashion – stella jean


Various Artists & quot The Ska’s The Limit ; (Abaraphobia) 60s ska

Jamaican fashion – Prince buster, a 1960s Jamaican ska musician, in a tiny hat