Monday, November 29, 2010

Fyuuzhan Kalekshan

You ever heard the saying "two heads are better than one"? Well, on Thursday, November 25th, 2010, I witnessed, first-hand, that three heads are even better than two. Invited to the University of Technology by a friend for the launch of his new fashion line, was I in for a treat!
Dubbed the Fyuuzhan Kalekshan (that's Jamaican for "Fusion Collection") the fashion line is the brainchild of friends Damien Williams, R. Anthony Lewis and Anna Kasafi Perkins, and like the name suggests, is the hybrid of Jamaican and African elements. But, wait, before you roll your eyes- there's a twist, a refreshing one, too. The line is unique in that it interweaves other elements, too.

Williams, designer (left) with model, both wearing loose-fitting, dashiki-detailed shirts

Model wearing contemporary halter dress with African-esque print

As Perkins puts it, "we wanted to take all the different cultural influences that inform the Caribbean  identity, add a few contemporary, trendy touches and turn them into sophisticated, wearable, edgy pieces."

To cement her point, one needs to look no further than the piece pictured directly above, one they've coined the "sarini"; the print is distinctly African, so too the off-the-shoulder wrap silhouette, but look further and a distinct Asian element is apparent too- the sari. It's these interesting elements that I suspect will allow the line to be able to cater to the many different tastes of the fashion-minded Jamaican consumer.
So how exactly did this "fusion" come about? Well, for one Lewis is a studied linguist, specializing in Jamaican creole, while Williams has done his studies in psychology and theology, an area Perkins herself has studied as well. So to say the three have mutual interests would be an under-statement. The idea came about late September, and by late October, the trio started to work on finishing pieces. What's even more remarkable, though, is how new these guys are to the world of fashion. Knowing Williams personally, i'd never call him particularly fashion-savvy, which is not to say that he can't put himself nicely together. His interests lie more along the lines of academia, so for him to have revealed to me his interest in starting a fashion line struck me as odd. But that's just the thing with the creative process, isn't it? It's the oddness, the singular odd moments that come together to form an outcome of beauty. Naturally, though, they've already started to educate themselves on key areas of the business like fabric identification, and are looking forward to lessons on sewing and such forth in the near future.

I suppose knowing each other and being in constant daily communication help the process along, too; who better to collaborate with than someone you know well? So what's next for the terrific trio? (Hey, don't smirk at my attempt at alliteration!) As Perkins puts it, "failure is not an option." An accessory line is in the works, as well as mass-production of the pieces themselves, after all, what's the purpose of making clothes if no one wears them? Mass-production, though, won't equate itself with a dip in quality, as the group believes that quality trumps quantity. Prices will run the gamut from say $2,500 (that's app. US$30) to about J$9,000. In other words, there should be something for everybody. Right now, however, they're more focused on a niche market, citing Monsignor Michael Lewis as the perfect customer.

Williams (left) in a very casual striped mens shirt with female model donning Asian-inspired "sarini"

The trio of friends, all smiles after their well-received launch. From left to right: R. Anthony Lewis, Anna Perkins and Damien Williams. (All in pieces from the collection)

Let me add, before ending this post, that I am so pleasantly surprised and so inspired by what I saw. Their new line really is testament to the fact that in life there exists no real limitations, creative or otherwise, except the ones we assign to our individual selves. The sky is indeed the limit, and with that kind of attitude, I suspect Fyuuzhan Kalekshan will go quite far. Here's to more great fashion from you guys! Kudos!

For more info on Fyuuzhan Kalekshan, bookings and sales, feel free to email Consultant Manager, Anna Perkins at or call at (876) 250- 2299