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It suits him

Natanga Smith

It suits him

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Rykii De Jude is full of swag as he fashions a scarf into a cravat for his photo shoot. The designer, along with Rosca McDonald and Rojoe Bascombe, was putting the final touches to outfits before taking positions for the cover shot.

Rykii De Jude has moved office and studio to Wildey Industrial Estate, St Michael, and it was there we all met.

“I was born to do this. . . . To bring purpose to mankind through my designs and through  the influence of being an international designer,” he said.

“My artistic influence comes and flows from God. It is my way of honouring Him with this gift He has invested in me. I remember I was fresh out of secondary school, I had just landed my first and only job  working for someone other than myself. I wanted to go to a street fair  and I had nothing new and little money.  I went looking in every store in Bridgetown and all the clothing just looked boring and were all costly. So I bought some fabric and went to an aunt who was a needleworker. She lent me her old machine.

“Having no training I cut the shirt square, with no curves in  the armhole area. The trousers was made with a drawstring. While my siblings laughed at me becaue I had to pull the shirt over my head, the guys I partied with asked me to make their outfits and then their girlfriends started to get in on the act and here I am,” he said proudly, recounting how he got his first taste of making clothing.

Rykii De Jude is a name synonymous with the fashion industry. He has won many awards for his creativity and longevity, but he said he never took his talent for fashion seriously even though he was in demand for his special pieces.

“On April 4, 2004 I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. After that I realised that this talent  is  a gift from God and I needed to do more with it than just market myself, make money and mess around.”

Rykii says he is self-taught, only getting formal training in 2012 when he recognised that he needed to do pattern classes in men’s tailoring: “That was another challenge I took up. It is by the grace and tender mercies of God that I made it this far as no one truly believed in me at the start but perseverance brings success.”

Where does his inspiration come from? Reading the scriptures.

“My designs are colourful, to reflect shades of rainbow nations such as the Caribbean islands and infusing gems of colour into the big city blacks and  greys. At Rykii De Jude we work with Sea Island cotton, Italian cotton blends and Italian wools and cashmeres.

“The fabrics are sourced from suppliers here, also from different parts of the world. Our islands do not have the supply infrastructure to adequately supply the  industry with different types of fabric, cloths and liners necessary to produce quality clothing  not to mention bespoke clothing.”

Rykii started out as a couturier. However, he has transitioned into a designer who puts out annual collections.

“While I still do one-of-a-kind clothing, my mandate has evolved to a wider focus. My collections  have been shown at Dominicana Moda DR, Miami Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week 2014 and 2015 and the UK Urban Music Awards.”

“Rykii says he is a hard worker, sacrificing bank holidays and vacation to oversee growth in the business.

“Working for one’s self is quite fulfilling, especially seeing a  garment coming together from inception to conception to completion. But it is hard work. Like anything in this life, you get what you put in and then sometimes more than what you bargained for.”

Rykii says his favourite client is basically a reflection of himself – adventurous – and he likes to push the borders of clothing; cutting edge yet understated.

Rykki is a fan of bespoke clothing and almost everything is made by hand – from the pin tuck finish on the collar, the lapels, pocket flaps, to hours of hand stitching on the inside. 

“Bespoke clothing demands a high degree of customisation, from measurements, patterns, measurement charts, customer interaction, fabric choices and finally fitting with pressing techniques involved. 

“In the former years tailors were highly prized. Most bespoke tailors do not consider themselves fashion designers and some look down upon designers. But I am unique in this aspect as I am of both worlds and bring a different perspective to the field of fashion and design.”

Rykii says as he has got older his tastes in fashion have changed, leaning towards jackets, vests, ascots and cravats. He shops mostly at his own studio.

“My wardrobe reflects me. My workday determines what I wear. If I am meeting clients, going to meetings or interviews, my clothing will be more fitted. However, in the trenches, where I need to move more freely, my clothing will reflect such a day.”

He says black slacks and white monogrammed dress shirts dominate his wardrobe. “However it is being strongly challenged by greys, blues, reds and neutrals,” he said laughing.

“I would say I am bolder, as I make trends, thus trends follow me. A designer is a trendsetter and as a designer I ask God for a design and voila, it is birthed. That comes from the relationship with Him.”