Jawara Alleyne is on a mission to define a fresh perspective on masculinity; envisioning new, exciting stories for men through dress. The 29-year-old, London-based designer was one of the standout talents at last year’s Central Saint Martins MA show, with a collection that set to explore the ‘Self-made man’, someone who toys with both the performance and meaning of masculinity altogether.
“Through the collection, I was questioning the way we design for the masculine form as well as the narratives we create around them to put that theory into practice,” says Alleyne. It’s quite surprising, then, to hear the designer had not the faintest interest in menswear until his final year of studying for his BA at London College of Fashion. He grew up in Jamaica, moving to the Cayman Islands when he was 13, where his interest in design began to flourish. By the time he was 16, he had produced his own fashion show and eventually moved to London to start his journey at LCF, co-founding the inclusive modelling and casting agency, Nii Agency, alongside Campbell Addy in 2017.
“When I was doing womenswear it was all about the feminine and the sensual, the silks, satins, chiffons, anything light and flowing that allowed for movement,” explains the designer, who has transferred his sensual understanding of fabric, colour, cut and drape directly to his menswear. His MA collection looked specifically to pirate folklore which is big in the Cayman Islands. Attending the annual Pirates Week festival growing up, Alleyne was fascinated by the men who wore flowing tops and billowing trousers. “[Pirates] bent and blurred the lines of gender and even the idea of the pirate ship serves as a place where archetypes are made to walk the plank,” says the designer.
Jawara Alleyne MA collection
Each look has an air of a different character – vampires, sorcerers and werewolves – as models wore blue taffeta biker jackets, draped nylon coats, crochet vests and pink satin trousers. Looks came adorned with clusters of marabou feathers and intricate beading, bridging the gap between masculine and feminine dress.
“There’s an underground feeling of the spiritual being explored in the collection,” says Alleyne. “My father was Rastafarian so I grew up seeing a lot of Rastafarian men who were kind of outcasts of society at that time, I drew a lot from that. They wear the most beautiful robes which took me back to references of sorcerers.”
Alleyne continued his exploration of drape work when he showed his sophomore collection at Nigeria’s Arise Fashion Week last December. Unofficially dubbed Punky Reggae Rockstar, Alleyne took a singular top from his MA collection that captured his vision best and simplified it through t-shirts, stripping the silhouette back to basics and exploring the specifics. “Where my MA collection was about finding a man across time, this one I was using culture to place him in time,” he says. Collection highlights included crinkled chiffon tops in mustard and olive, t-shirts slashed across the sleeves and torso and pleated denim trousers, which Alleyne says are the most comfortable pants he owns.
“The idea of what is masculine has become homogenous,” affirms the designer. “Without the option to play and explore, the human identity stops evolving.”
Top image: Jawara Alleyne headdress pictured inside Issue 52 of 10 Men, photographed by Luca Anzalone and styled by Ola Ebiti.
Jawara Alleyne Arise Fashion Week