Blog » uptown yardie

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.

As we come to near the end of the Uptown Yardie Jamaica crowdfunder, we want to take you back in time to when a party was a shubz. Good music, good vibes, pure niceness. No lean foot shoes.

Uptown Yardie shubz - end of crowdfunder party in London

As we come to near the end of the Uptown Yardie Jamaica crowdfunder, we want to take you back in time to when a party was a shubz. Good music, good vibes, pure niceness. No lean foot shoes.

Donate £5 at the door to be in with a chance to win a pair of Yardie boots!
On the night as well as good music, there’ll be raffles, give-aways and an Uptown Yardie stall. Buy up your Christmas pressies and all monies raised will go towards the crowdfunder.

Limited tickets on first come first serve basis. Get your tickets here uptownyardieshubz

It takes a village. Go tell a fren to tell a fren. The Yardies are going to party hard.

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...