Theophilio's Edvin Thompson Celebrates Caribbean Pride Through Fashion
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PHOTO BY PHILIP-DANIEL DUCASSE
I would love to know if there’s certain parts of our Jamaican culture that you draw inspiration from.
Mostly, I would say my younger years were the riches of my creativity and with self-discovery, just seeing myself in the world, how I show up and how I communicate with others. It's always been through fashion, arts and being very prideful of where I'm from. I always felt a sense of community when I was in Jamaica, so I always wanted to champion that through my work. I think it's innate for me to be like, “Hi, I'm Jamaican. This is where I'm from.” It's such a beautiful island and we have so much to share with the world. It's just been a natural cadence of mine.
Our island of Jamaica is so tiny, but we make such a big impact.
I totally agree. And I talk about this all the time. It’s such a small island, but per capita, the impact that we have is amazing. I think it just goes back to us being very prideful people. I always felt a sense of community when I was in Jamaica, so I always wanted to champion that through my work. I think it’s innate for me to say, ‘Hi, I’m Jamaican. This is where I’m from.’ It’s such a beautiful island and we have so much to share with the world. It’s just been a natural cadence of mine.
Designer Edvin Thompson PHOTO BY PHILIP-DANIEL DUCASSE
I feel like each piece of yours tells a story. Was that your intention?
Yeah, I think that's always been the idea, about fashion being similar to a biography. Going back to clothes, I found I use fashion and arts to communicate with people. Me dressing up, my favorite colors, my favorite fits, jeans or whatever the case may be, I use it in a way to connect with other people. I think we all dress to really champion the best versions of ourselves. So when I'm going into making clothes, I'm like, “Wow, this will look amazing on.” But I think that's a really honest way to collaborate with people: me creating a dress and then you decide to wear it your own way. It just serves a purpose in assisting you in being the best version of yourself.
You and other designers are helping to dismantle inclusivity and showcase the beauty of the diaspora.
I think it’s a way to be free. I think it’s a privilege to be able to see yourself and understand that you can be absolutely anything. But I don’t take that for granted at all. Representation is extremely important. I think we all deserve to think we can do anything or anyone at the drop of a dime without any constraints.
A look from the Homecoming spring/summer 2023 collection PHOTO BY OLIVER HADLEE PEARCH
What else do you think the fashion industry can do to support Black designers?
Lift the veil [to see] who’s actually at these tables, but I really feel everything is just surface level to be on the right side of history. I really feel like a lot of these connections are so ungenuine. What I’ve seen in a lot of these institutions is that they just need to put their money where their mouth is. These handouts are becoming so sterile now because they just come with a caveat. They don’t want to help someone just because they want to help, they want to help them because of analytics and viewership. I think we can have a very organic approach by just lifting the veil—and, of course, more dialogues for sure. I think that definitely helps. But sometimes I feel like that’s just running in place.
Theophilio’s Homecoming spring/summer 2023 campaign PHOTO BY OLIVER HADLEE PEARCH
You use a lot of upcycled fabrics in your collections.
Not to mention that there’s aliens here! (laughs) It’s been the hottest year on the planet. We’re going to be underwater in 2030. There’s so much waste. Initially, when I started practicing sustainable ways to create clothing, it was me not having enough funds to buy luxurious fabrics. So that inspired me to create very inventive ways to make clothing, whether it be going to the store, picking up a dress jacket and then reimagining it with my own flair or deconstructing it. But that continued conversation really inspired me to talk about how it’s important to take care of your doorstep and then expand to the world. We live in a very capitalistic society and I think we can all understand the importance of having a healthy environment. So I think it’s all of our responsibility to sustain that.
PHOTO BY OLIVER HADLEE PEARCH