For many, the image of a well-dressed man is set in stone—dressed in Sunday best, all buttoned up. But a new generation of Caribbean designers are challenging these notions behind acceptable style for men, introducing new shapes, colors and textures. These creators aim to blur the lines between street and boardroom, high-end and high street, and even what’s considered male and female. The result—a refreshing update for any man’s wardrobe. We’ve rounded up our favorite Caribbean designers doing menswear now, from bespoke suits to futuristic streetwear.
Rebels To Dons
There has always been a rebellious streak in Caribbean fashion, and Brooklyn-based Trinidadian designer Joshua C. Joseph embraces that spirit head-on in his menswear line, Rebels to Dons. Joseph borrows and reinterprets common masculine archetypes, from cowboys to soldiers. His latest collection “Inner Flames” takes style cues from dancehall artists of the early 1990s, incorporating patchwork patterns, bright neons and baggy silhouettes. His unique looks make the designer a favorite of fashion editorials, with features in Harper’s Bazaar, Complex and Billboard magazine.
This British designer may be only two years out of school, completing a Masters at the Royal College of Art in 2017. But Bianca Saunders has been making waves out of the gate with her fresh approach to tailoring. She mines her Jamaican/West Indies heritage for inspiration, re-examining cultural identities through clothing. Her newest collection continues her exploration of male black identity within British culture, challenging stereotypes of the picture-perfect tailored man with unconventional silhouettes and fabrics. Think peek-a-boo mesh, ruching and soft drapery.
If you see more male celebrities upping their red carpet game with colorful, richly textured and impeccably tailored suits, you can thank designers like Davidson Petit-Frère of Frère. The Haitian-American designer has developed a loyal following for injecting personality into classic custom suiting. Think stars like Jay Z, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Steph Curry and Trevor Noah. And it’s no wonder, with the brand’s effortless fusion of classic Italian and English tailoring techniques with modern sensibility. In addition to their bespoke service, the brand now offers a ready-to-wear line. So everyone can upgrade their formal wear with some serious style.
Imagine contemporary street-wear meets the movie Back To the Future, and you’re not too far off from the futuristic style of Trinidadian designer and stylist William McIntosh. He developed a fan base thanks to his unique approach to style, mixing prints and bold color-blocking. Inspired by the Caribbean’s bright tropical colors, his 2019 collection combines saturated, hyper-real hues with New York urban silhouettes. But this is more than your basic baggy t-shirt. Each oversized tee and chino shorts are as meticulously tailored as any two-piece suit.
Shayne Oliver: Hood By Air
As the founder of cult brand Hood by Air, Trinidadian designer Shayne Oliver helped revolutionize men’s clothing today with his avant-garde approach to streetwear. His crew of collaborators and young New York creatives combined to explore definitions of race and gender through his designs. He became known for creating gender-neutral pieces. His work also reclaimed “urban” style for the marginalized communities who created them, from baggy jeans to oversized logos. He received serious accolades for his efforts, including the LVMH Special Jury Prize and CFDA award. The brand went on hiatus in 2017, but Oliver is getting set to relaunch the iconic brand this year.
New menswear brand Maromas is the brainchild of Thomas Harvey and Mauro Pitteri, who met as students at the London College of Fashion. The label allowed the designers to take a more personal approach to men’s style. The explore fashion through a cultural lens—Pitteria’s Argentinian roots and Harvey’s Caribbean heritage.
The collection they presented for their graduation show last summer, “Burn This Man,” dived deep into the Jamaican dancehall scene, exploring its tension with gender norms and sexuality. “Being homosexual in Jamaica is seen as a negative thing, which is quite amusing when you look at how flamboyant heterosexual men are in their fashion and dance styles,” explains Harvey in an interview with Dazed. “Their take on style is fully formed and beautiful, but to actually be gay is rejected. We want to explore that juxtaposition.” The result became a dynamic mix of mesh marina and bright hues with pleather pants and peek-a-boo cutouts.