The Mamayashi Collection’s soft Jersey dresses with their funky and afro-centric appliqués, randomly placed zippers, and perfectly coordinated colored fabrics have gained notoriety as the choice clothing for the hip, roots-conscious, urban fashionista. Created by a Jamaican-born, New York-bred daughter of a tailor and determined mother, this collection is essentially an extension of Mamayashi herself.
She has progressed from a child making doll’s clothes in her father’s tailor shop, and a teenager redesigning store-bought clothes and experimenting with daring facial adornments, to a bonafide celeb designer with original creations rooted in Africa and sporting timeless sensuality. Known for their geometric cuts and patterns, her designs are as a result of applying math skills like logic, critical thinking, geometry, calculus to her work: “I was taught to create clothes by mathematicians and scientists,” shares Mamayashi about the method behind the magic.
Mamayashi’s line is always in motion. Right now, her pieces are predominantly tube dresses, halter dresses and skirts, with some off shoulder tops. Mamayashi does not have a favorite color. She loves them all with the same enduring passion. So a combination of turquoise, mustard and pumpkin; or lilac, white and baby pink; or even neon greens and pinks are in fact a pleasant surprise to some, and a feature her loyal customers have come to expect. In fact the red, green and gold combination which is popular in the Rastafarian culture is not a dominant them in her collection. Not to worry, her colorful pieces, as well as her bangle clutches, dubbed after the appliqués attached to them such as ‘Rasta Baby’, ‘Rastafari’, ‘Ethiopia’, ‘Her Majesty’, ‘Che Guevara’, ‘Marcus Garvey’, ‘Ethiopian Millennium’, ‘Empress Menen’ and ‘weed leaf’; are surely outward reflections of her Rastafarian faith and her passion for Africana studies (which she started at Brown University).
Mamayashi first displayed and sold her designs on the internet. She was home with her newborn and spent much of her time designing and sewing. The response was very encouraging. After developing a strong online following, she returned home to Jamaica with her young son, to introduce him to his culture and establish her brand on the local scene. Since 2006, Mamayashi Collection has been featured in shows in her hometown of Christina, Manchester including Couture Style in 2006 and most recently Claat Daze in 2010. Mamayashi Collection debuted at Style Week, one of the Region’s premier fashion weeks, in 2008. Mamayashi secured an exclusive deal with the uber-exclusive Stanley and Empress Boutique and made further inroads on the Jamaican fashion scene by getting well-known artists such as Queen Ifrica, Alaine, and Etana to wear her outfits in videos, stage shows and appearances. Singer/songwriter Janine ‘Jah9’ Cunningham is the spokes model for the line. For the last three years, she has shown her pieces on local live television talent show Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall. The Mamayashi Collection has also been featured on television Jamaica’s morning talk show, Smile Jamaica.
Now relocated to New York, Mamayashi has been heavily marketing her collection through the collaborative efforts with Tuff Like Iron and Hariet’s. She has not strayed from her online presence which kicked off her success. Her loyal Facebook following has enabled the line to be introduced to many around the world. This year Mamayashi collection has been featured at fashion shows in Martiniquewith shows in France on the card. The number of celebrities sporting a Mamayashi piece continues to grow: Una Morgan, Cherine Anderson, Nelly Stharre, marie-claire, BarbaraHannah-Blake, Denise “Isis” Miller, Empress Mullings, Elise Kelly, Sophia Squire, Melissa Fearon, Vania Colours and Ayeola George are some Caribbean entertainers who are proud to wear their Mamayashi original pieces. The men (Konshens, Tarrus Riley, Majah Bless, Erup and Michael Franti) have shown their support as well, further validation of the appeal and reach of the Mamayashi signature style.
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Mamayashi says she is “looking forward to impacting culture worldwide”.