As one of the weirdest New York Fashion Week seasons in recent memory looms, one thing has become increasingly clear: This Fashion Week will be all about emerging designers. Even with a truncated timeline, 15 new names were added to the CFDA timeline, shifting attention from big name brands – which are mostly absent and may appear in formats yet to be revealed later this year – to newcomers with distinct and unique brands. visions.
Edvin Thompson is the Jamaican and Brooklyn-based designer behind Theophilio, a unisex line linking the designer’s cultural education and current metropolitan influences with a revalued philosophy that has been central to the brand’s aesthetic approach. Cunning, resourceful and energetic are just a few words to describe this labor of love put together by Thompson and his “design family,” a community dedicated to promoting and raising the voice of immigrants like them.
A glimpse into the brand’s Brooklyn studio revealed the exciting beginnings of a brand full of creative collaboration and passionate, positive and magical energy. Even during a pandemic, grueling calls for racial justice, and general pressure on young designers in an ever-changing industry, a look at Thompson’s spring collection showed she was incredibly strong.
Here he talks with WWD about his early career, cultural influences, and the fashion road ahead.
WWD: How did you get started?
Edvin Thompson: I was introduced to fashion thanks to friends in my freshman year of high school. I was then thirsty for knowledge of fashion design, styling and fashion history. I was so excited to make clothes, because of the stories I would tell.
WWD: How did your Jamaican heritage and your life in Brooklyn influence your creative process?
AND: Coming from Jamaica, I have retained many inspiring nuances of my culture. Moving to New York City gave me access to resources that fuel these inspirations.
WWD: In the current state of the world, how was your experience as a designer and creator?
AND: I use my experiences to tell stories and think about what’s going on, especially in politics. I never really saw myself as a political person, but during COVID-19 myself, my friends and family were basically stuck at home with not much to do but really filter out what is going on in the world. . I felt compelled to leave my house and go out and walk and I understand that people use their activism in different ways – I use my activism in my work, but sometimes it is very important to show solidarity and show his face.
WWD: Can you describe the customer you had in mind when designing?
AND: When I design, I consider all fearless, strong and independent men and women. My clothes inspire people to give their all in everything they do. It is a call to leaders and pioneers. I listen to people’s stories. This is one of the reasons I wanted to be a designer because in my community a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to share their stories or even have a space to be vulnerable, even to share their stories. This is really one of the reasons I became a designer – to light up my community, amplify their voices and create spaces in which they are normally not accepted.
WWD: What influences your creative process?
AND: I party with my consumers, I protest with my consumers, I live with my consumers, and I listen to people’s stories, especially in my community.
Coming from Jamaica to the United States and living in New York City, I find we have the same stories no matter where we are from. I think this definitely inspired the inspiration from my first collection to this upcoming collection. This is the biggest ideology of my brand.
WWD: Tell us about your design family.
AND: They are very, very close friends, members of my family, faces that I have known for a long time now. I love working with the same people and really having a really long lasting relationship. I still work with the same models, videographers and photographers from my first collection and even from my other home in Atlanta. I still work with friends there. These people have certainly contributed to my growth, as I have done for them. It’s more of a community, my family of designers.
WWD: What are the key pieces of this upcoming collection? Please describe them.
AND: I am more excited about the color palettes. I explore different color palettes.
When it comes to design, I’ve always avoided bright colors and I think it has a lot to do with my sexuality – being gay – because growing up I wanted to refine myself; I didn’t want to be that bright because of the way society really treats us. I wanted to decrease the brightness, but I gradually found the love of color again because of my cultural background. It’s very vibrant and we love to celebrate life and I think the colors definitely do. There is a corseted shirt that I have lengthened the sleeves and it looks amazing, amazing, amazing.
WWD: What considerations do you think your customers have now before making a purchase?
AND: I think my clothes make people feel great. I really go out with my consumers. I think a lot of designers should take note of that and be out there on the streets and really get to know people and get to know their consumers and their concerns. Ask them, “hey, how do you like these pants, how do you like the fit, how do you like how they feel? I think it’s very, very important.
I am always open to feedback from my consumers and that is like producing for my clients without having an online store. A lot of clients contacted my DM directly so it was a very personal approach and I got to see their appreciation and what they were passionate about and why they wanted the clothes. Recently a customer bought three pieces from my latest collection for her birthday. She really wanted the whole reggae vibe and inspired her to do a shoot like that. This stuff is what I want.
I want people to be passionate about things and find themselves and even be leaders in their own communities, start conversations and tell stories.
WWD: Where do you produce your collections and what is the price range?
AND: My price range is $ 300 and up and I produce my clothes in a few factories in Manhattan and a few small productions at my home in Atlanta as well. I’m exploring different areas of production and I’m also looking at Los Angeles and I’d also like to play with more sewing pieces from Mexico.
One of my goals in the near future is to build my own factory in Jamaica; I want to bring more to my country and really support the economy and the community at home.
WWD: Why is it important to be on the New York Fashion Week calendar?
AND: It was important because I wanted to fill this space. I wanted people to know that it is very possible for a Jamaican child to come to America and do this and I really created a space for myself. And just knowing that being a good person and having that motivation, that ambition and that passion for what you do will come to fruition.
WWD: What changes do you think the industry needs to make to move forward?
AND: I believe fashion needs to continue these conversations about diversity, inclusion, sustainability, and integration of these cultural diasporas. We must act by empowering and encouraging our brothers and sisters to strive in safe spaces within the fashion industry.
I would like to see measures so that we fill in the blanks and get funding. There are so many amazing black talent out there who don’t get the right resources, and they deserve it. I feel like there is a lot of mediocrity out there, especially with New York being a fashion capital of the world, and I feel like not all real talent is supported and that. is a change that I would like to see in the fashion industry in the future. .
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