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Jamaican Independence week may be coming to a close, but we're not done celebrating yet...

Join us tomorrow in celebrating Jamaican Independence at Harris Academy South Norwood with a FREE community screening of Perry Henzell's explosive 1972 cult classic The Harder They Come - the first ever Jamaican feature film!

Uptown Yardie x Harder They Come

Jamaican Independence week may be coming to a close, but we're not done celebrating yet...

We've partnered up with immersive events company We Are Parable who in celebration of Jamaican Independence have put on a FREE community screening of Perry Henzell's explosive 1972 cult classic The Harder They Come -the first ever Jamaican feature film! You'll find us there tomorrow at Screen25 where we've curated a marketplace installation for the outdoor screening.

The film features reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff who plays antihero Ivan, an aspiring musician, and follows him on his long journey to Kingston in search of fame and fortune. Ivan's betrayal by the music industry leads him in the hands of corrupt record producers and big time drug dealers. His persistence in pursuing his dreams means he'll let nothing stand in the way... not even the law.

We're incredibly excited to be part of this cultural event, especially as we've previously taken inspiration from the film. Last year, in run up to the launch of our Uptown Yardie Jamaica Collection (which you can find here and some items at the screening tomorrow) we had the pleasure of doing a photoshoot with the extremely talented Benji Reid. The shoot was inspired by film, which if you're familiar with, you'll notice that Benji's stature is reflective of the many posters of Jimmy cliff as Ivan. 

Benji Reid as Ivan

Benji Reid as Ivan

 

If the free screening (taking place at 8pm) isn't enough to bring you down, there's also a shoobs from 5pm, a reggae choir community workshop from 6:30pm and dozens of stalls run by independent Afro-Caribbean businesses selling everything from jerk (yum), to arts, crafts, clothes and various products that you'll be dying to get your hands on! 

If you haven't already got your free tickets, there's limited availability on the door, so move quick, and we hope to see you there!

...Oh, and one last thing, don't forget to rep your flag - you may have a chance of winning the 'Best Dressed Competition' which invites you to wear colours of Jamaica as we celebrate the land we love's 56th independence... Although, you may be outdone by Mr & Mrs Uptown Yardie. 🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲

In our last blog post we revealed how Jamaica had influenced the fashion industry, but today we want to delve into an art form which has not only revolutionised Jamaican culture, but has revolutionised the world... reggae music...

How Reggae Music Has Influenced The Globe

In our last blog post we revealed how Jamaica had influenced the fashion industry, but today we want to delve into an art form which has not only revolutionised Jamaican culture, but has revolutionised the world... reggae music...

Bob Marley, reggae icon

If I were to ask you what's the first thing that pops into mind when I say 'reggae', I'd say a good 85% of you would respond with the beloved Jamaican icon 'Bob Marley'. Of course, this is no surprise, Bob Marley was a living legend, a social advocate who used an infusion of reggae, ska and rocksteady to bring about social and political change all whilst touching the souls of many and making you forget your worries with his sweet songs. However, although an integral part of reggae culture, I dare you to think beyond Bob for a second, whilst we take you through how reggae has transformed the globe...

Born out of the Jamaican slums in the late 1960s, who would have know that sound of Jamaica would become such an important instrument to bringing about social change? The genre which was heavily influenced by Rastafarian culture was used to promote equal rights, unity and justice across the globe. The sounds had began to transcend across many, if not all continents, having a huge impact on the British, French, African and US culture. 

Reggae's Impact On Europe

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, England had a large Jamaican community, most of which lived in lived in working-class areas such as Tottenham and Brixton. At the same time, a youth subculture was surfacing in the same area, they were known as the skinheads or 'mods'. The mods began to mingle with what were known as 'Jamaican rude boys' and attended black clubs, hearing the sounds Jamaica. Both subcultures realised they shared many things in common - the rebellion, the working class culture, and let's not forget - marijuana.skinheads

However, reggae music didn't just influence the skinhead movement, it also influenced the punk movement, which was partly due to Don Letts. Don Letts was a DJ at the legendary nightclub, The Roxy. Born to Jamaican parents, In 1977 he introduced reggae and dub to the punk rock scene, influencing British punk bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols. However, Britain was not the only place in Europe which felt the impact of reggae, French too followed suit...

Bernard Lavilliers and Serge Gainsbourg were among the first white French artists to record reggae rhythms in the late 1970s. The pop singers were intrigued by reggae's rebellious aspects following the 1968 French revolution which left a sense of rebellion in the air. Whilst this was happening, young African and French Caribbean descendants began to feel a connection to the social, political and spiritual messages that reggae conveyed. This led to the birth of a French Reggae school.

 

Reggae's Impact On The USA

In the 1950s and 1960s, the USA welcomed hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans, many of which resided in the South Bronx. These Jamaicans never lost touch with their culture and would often go on trips revisiting their homeland. Therefore, when toasting aka DJ style became popular in Jamaica, this new genre which stemmed from reggae reached New York quickly. The genre mixed with Urban American culture stimulated the rise in rap music and the hip-hop culture in the 1970s. Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, who moved to the Bronx in 1967 was a pioneer in originating rap music and hip-hop culture. 

DJ Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc

There were definitely similarities between both genres: They both came from a context of oppression, reflected the lifestyle and realities for black people in urban ghettos, and also rebelled against establishment. 

Reggae's Impact On Africa

Reggae artists have constantly paid tribute to the 'Motherland' (Africa), and the first artist to do so was Bob Marley, with songs like 'Africa Unite'. Unsurprisingly, he quickly became a symbol for African youth who started to identify with Jamaicans and the Rasta culture. It was easy for them to identify with Jamaicans because as they were both experiencing similar experiences - oppression, ghetto living. This led to African reggae beginning to emerge, such as Alpha Blondy -who's arguably one of the greatest reggae artists in the world.

 Alpha Blondy

Alpha Blondy

From the style descending from the Jamaican rude boys, to the red, green and gold of the Rastafarian flag, we’re revealing how 3 designer brands have taken inspiration from such a small but mighty nation both on and off runway...

 

Jamaica's Influence On The Fashion Industry

Today marks the 56th anniversary of Jamaica, the land we love's independence day. In celebratory fashion we’re dedicating this week to unveiling the icons, street trends and snippets of history that have collectively made Jamaica the cultural powerhouse it is today. “Nuh undaestimate wi, wi likkle but tallawah” (meaning: "do not underestimate us, we are small but we are strong and fearless"is the phrase that sums up Jamaican culture, which you'll come to appreciate as we take you through stories of how such a small island has had so much impact on the world.

Whether you believe it’s appreciation, or rather appropriation there’s no denying that the island has influenced many industries across the globe, including one particular industry... fashion. From the styles descending from the Jamaican rude boys, to the red, green and gold of the Rastafari flag, we’re revealing how 3 designer brands have taken inspiration from such a small but mighty nation both on and off runway...

 

1. Christian Dior's Rasta Collection 

(John Galliano's early-2000s collections)

Featuring red, gold and green striped heels, bags, quilted snow boots and even a snowboard (God knows what they were thinking), Dior's Rasta collection led to tons of backlash after appropriating Rastafarianism. The collection was designed by John Galliano, a Gibraltar-born British-Spanish fashion designer who clearly had no knowledge of Jamaican culture, let alone Rastafarianism, misinterpreting what it meant to take inspiration from something, rather than stealing and trivialising what is sacred to many.

Unsurprisingly, the collection offended many Rastas so much so that they created an online forum to discuss their feelings of disgust by the collection and it's disrespect towards Rastafarianism. Many have complained that being a Rasta is a spiritual way of life, and therefore cannot be bought nor sold. Sista Kufunya who describes herself as a "born Rasta from creation" was so outraged she wrote a letter to Dior stating: "I am hurt by your total dis regard of my culture and millions of Rasta's who in the not so distant past where killed, ridiculed and discriminated because of it. Rasta is Not a Bikini- Rasta Not a Shoe- Rasta Not a Bra- Rasta Not depicted in a sexually way. Rasta Cannot be brought or sold!!!!" 

Perhaps, this collection took it a little too far with the racy, hyper-sexualised  images which completely oppose the values of Rastafarianism. Not so great Galliano, not so great.

Christian Dior's Rasta Collection

2. Levi's Vintage Collection

Described by head designer Paul O'Neill as "a mix of classic American clothes with old man wear from Jamaica", Levi's® current Vintage clothing collection is a personal favourite which embraces the vibrant dancehall and reggae styles of Jamaica for it's Fall/Winter '18 collection. The inspiration for the collection stemmed directly from the Jamaican film Rockers (1978), after O'Neill's trip to Jamaica.

Contrary to most culturally inspired collections, Levi's® have received compliments rather than backlash for the accurate depiction and cultural awareness surrounding the campaign, as well as for the stunning campaign photos that feature the individuals he met on his trip. 

If you're feeling the gear, you can currently buy the collection in-store and it will also be available online shortly.

 

levi-vintage-collection

          More of the photography can be found here.  

3. Tommy Hilfiger's Spring 2016 Runway

In Spring 2016 in line with NY Fashion Week, Tommy Hilfiger sent models down the runway wearing crocheted hats with red, gold, black, and green stripes surrounded by sand and water. The clearly Rastafari inspired collection was accompanied by a soundtrack which featured a remix of Jamaican icon, Bob Marley's 'Could You Be Loved'.

For some, Hilfiger's spring/summer collection was a little too controversial and seemed to appropriate more than appreciate. Although, the argument stands that he did feature some Jamaican models on the catwalk too. Zuri Marley (Bob Marley's granddaughter) was one of few people who gave appraisal to the collection and commented "most people pull the appropriation card but to the island girl, it seems like Hilfiger's Antillean inspiration is informed and honest. Besides, fashion is always taking cues from from different cultures, so Tommy isn't the first and won't be the last designer to highlight island life" - excerpt from Fashion Fridays: Zuri Marley Responds To Hilfiger's Jamaica- Inspired SS16 Collection.

Whether you agree with her viewpoint or not, one thing is for sure, she's certainly right about Tommy not being the first or last to be "inspired" by (or capitalise on) Jamaican fashion! So, the question is, which designer brand is next...

 

Appreciation or appropriation... You decide! Leave your thoughts below and tell the UY crew whether you're flattered or fed up of designers using Jamaican fashion as the focal point of their collections.

Uptown Yardie turns 2, Part II The Future

Last year we went to check out Afropunk literally before flying out to our honeymoon, and what an amazing time we had, Grace Jones was phenomenal. This year we’ve been asked to be part of the Spinthrift Market, where we will be combining art with fashion. Watch this space for the countdown to the market and competition offers.

   

We’ve been working on perfecting our unisex Rocker boots which will be landing soon. They are an update on our hugely successful remixed and twisted monkey boot. They will be coming in three different colour ways. Traditional black and bordeaux and to celebrate our two-year anniversary, we will be selling an exclusive limited edition colour to be revealed soon. There are only 10 pairs available, which are all individually signed and numbered by the Uptown Yardie Crew. Once these are gone they will be gone. Stay tuned for the big reveal and sign up to our mailing list to be alerted to the opportunity to pre-order. 

We will be selling the black and bordeaux colourways at Afropunk. 

Finally, we want to thank you for all your continued support of our brand. We often say it takes a village and we feel that surround us on this rocky but worthwhile journey.

 

One perfect love

The Uptown Yardie Crew

 

Uptown Yardie turns 2!

Bob Marley and Ras Malachi

Happy birthday to us. This week sees Uptown Yardie turn 2 and this second year of business has been a whirlwind. To celebrate we are giving 20% off selected items all week. Just use code ANNIV2 at the checkout.

It all started with a post of Bob Marley with Ras Malachi. Did you know that Ras Malachi, Bob Marley's spiritual adviser was Mrs Uptown Yardie's dad?

We want to take you back to the beginning of 2016, what we are currently busy doing and share some snippets of future projects.


People in business always say that it will take a good two years of grafting to get a new business off the ground and we would say that is very true. The first year for us was finding our feet. Being creative is one skill, making that a successful business is another. So, navigating working with factories, unmet deadlines, building a website and starting an online business marked some unknown territory for us and there were lots of lessons learnt. It also meant taking a big leap of faith in our vision and sinking a lot of our hard-earned savings.

Besides maintaining and growing Uptown Yardie we had two major events happening. A house renovation and a wedding. Unless you have super powers and nerves of steel not advisable to do both but we got through it. We now have a great kitchen, come studio, come office, come entertainment space. You may not know it but that rubber yellow floor you often see in our pictures, yep that’s our kitchen. One of our other passions is interiors. Mrs UY has a blog and a little side business doing interiors. Check her out on facebook.com/untillemonsaresweet  

By far our greatest highlight was our wedding. In fact, we loved getting married so much we did it twice. Both were beautiful. Of course we were wearing shoes made by Mr Uptown Yardie.      

        

   

 

 

 

 

         

Our second year has seen the business take off and we were busy trying to take it to the next level. We launched a Kickstarter campaign to help us grow the business and help us finance our new collection.   

We had great fun filming our video in our local shopping centre, which ended with us being escorted off the premises by security. Apparently, you need a licence to shoot in the car park. Who knew! Lol.

Unfortunately, we did not meet our target which has implications for what we want to do, we come to that later, but on the bright side it increased our brand awareness and had a direct impact on our social media presence and website footfall. For a couple who are media shy we have never been interviewed so much. Podcasts, magazine interviews and an appearance on BBC Radio London was all outside of our comfort zone but paid off in terms of getting the brand out there.

We were disappointed that we didn’t make our target and it meant that we were not able to claim any of the money we had raised because our crowdfunder was an all or nothing scenario. It means we have had to scale back on what we were hoping to do. The collection will be much smaller and we unable to go to the Tokyo tradeshow.

 

              

On the plus side, we have pushed ahead with Uptown Yardie Jamaica and we are working with a factory in Jamaica to produce the Yardie boot. We are very proud of this project as we can give something back to Jamaica which has heavily influenced our style and ethos.

This is a boot made by the Jamaican people for the world. We are currently working with the Jamaican High Commission in London on an official launch date both here and in Jamaica.

             

Part II The future - soon coming...