Theophilio Gives A First Class Ticket on Air Jamaica

Theophilio Gives A First Class Ticket on Air Jamaica

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Theophilio Gives A First Class Ticket on Air Jamaica

Jamaican born, Brooklyn made, the brand that is on everyone’s radar

Jamaican born, Brooklyn made, the brand that is on everyone’s radar

Text: Michelle Diaz

Edvin Thompson, the Founder and Creative Director of Theophilio, transported all his show goers onto a flight with the destination to Jamaica. The long awaited collection did NOT disappoint and it was a small peak into what the brand’s future will reveal. Thompson truly created a space that celebrated beautiful  vibrant colors and tributes the stories of all immigrants. 

On Saturday, September 11, Theophilio, 2021 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, debuted its Spring/Summer 2022 collection during New York Fashion Week. After a long period of inactivity, postponement, and delays, the collection, titled “Air Jamaica,” restored travel desires and made everyone want to book a flight after the show to the Caribbean. 

Thompson grew up knowing that he would name his fashion brand Theophilio. The name originates from Thompson’s middle name, Theophilus, which means “loved by God.”

“Since I was six years old, I was artistically inclined, drawing, painting, but clothing is the best medium for me to really express myself truthfully. Even going back to my cultural heritage in Jamaica I think with the colors in this it’s so nostalgic and the theme of this collection being Jamaican, it didn’t just stop on the flight but more so talking about all the idols and icons from the island. It’s important to remember and celebrate Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, and Grace Jones,” Thompson discussed with me after the show. 

New York notables, celebrities and industry insiders all came out to view the collection including Kerby Jean-Raymond, Law Roach, Lucky Daye, VanJess, Brett Gray, Rome Flynn, The Clermont Twins, Shaun Ross, Brandon Blackwood, Ama Elsesser, Jordan Clarkson, Jordun Love, Kelsey Lu, Selah Marley, Tainy, and 24KGoldn. 

But Thompson wasn’t always surrounded by this much love. It wasn’t until his freshman year in high school he found a community that had a passion for clothing just like he did. They dressed up every weekend and called themselves the “Cool Kids Crew”. The community’s initiative was to create a space to celebrate themselves. The fashion club would throw different themed parties each week and they made $1,100 once from a pajama party. Thompson didn’t know the impact this club would have on him later in his life. 

As he was attending the Academy of Art University of Atlanta, Georgia online, he took a trip with a friend to New York in 2013 and that’s when it hit him that he had to move there in order to fulfill his aspirations of starting his own brand. When the goal to attend FIT didn’t work out, he started creating his first and second collections in 2016 and 2017 out of a garage in Brooklyn. The following year, he created an entire collection in a Mexican restaurant located underneath his apartment. Thompson made it very clear to me that it’s extremely important to remember where you come from. 

The show featured a mix of models wearing the men’s, women’s, and unisex collection designed by Thompson, even a snake made an appearance on the runway. Keeping it within his community, the models wore boots and sandals by designer and friend Sunni Dixon's brand SUNNI SUNNI. “I think you can find Jamaican inspirations anyplace in anywhere you go on the globe,” said Thompson.

Air Jamaica is the primary inspiration for the collection as it symbolizes the spread of Jamaican culture around the world. At the age of 9, Thompson, his mom, and siblings boarded Air Jamaica with a one way ticket to America. Considering himself the product of the American dream, Thompson always knew designing clothes was the best medium to express himself and to really cultivate what it was like for him and his family coming to a new country. On the soundtrack played at the show, you can hear Thompson say the names of his siblings in honor of the experience they shared together coming to America.

Thompson couldn’t afford lavish fabrics nor fabrications and textiles from Italy or China in the beginning and had to make clothing out of what was within his means. All his fabrics are from the garment district, small local businesses, and all his collections are made in New York. He proves that domestic manufacturing is possible and makes a note that it is crucial to support local businesses and communities.

The 28-piece collection is reminiscent of the airline’s interior airplanes and incorporates the colors of the Rastafarian flag (red, green and yellow) braided into the models' hair, neon claws with "THEO" on them, and major hoop earrings to feed the audience a taste of Jamaica. Air Jamaica is distinct for its astounding experience, from the stewardess’ bold and beautiful uniforms, to the food, beverages, and magazines, all constituting Thompson’s native culture.

The Kingston born designer spreads his heritage’s values by promoting and encouraging the shared manifesto of many immigrants - the celebrations of life and the good feeling from overcoming its adversities. By practicing his most authentic self everyday, Thompson influences others around him to express themselves unapologetically.

The show closed with a sunny yellow full-length couture gown with a train featuring a green leather bodice on the chest. When I asked Thompson if this is a small taste of what we’ll see more from him in the future, he simply answered with, “we are on our way.”

Click the slideshow below to view the entire collection:

Courtesy of Theophilio. Photo Credit: Andrea Sabugo.

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