Mahdiyyah Muhammad (left) and Malcolm-Emilio seen here during one of their small pop up shops for the beginning of the collection.
Invest in heritage
Invest in your heritage, and use its richness to expand your creative horizon, is the advice young artists are being given by two international designers.
Mahdiyyah Muhammad and Malcolm-Emilio Yarde, two young creatives from North America and Canada respectively, have honed their skills in embracing their African heritage, with modern insights. Recently, the pair visited the island to interact with some young designers, and in doing so, created a small clothing collection that has been inspired by the island’s beauty.
Emilio was the brains behind the initiative, and recently during a sit-down with the group, he expanded further on what first inspired their vision.
“My father is from Barbados and I have been visiting the island for years. It took me a while, but now during this visit to Barbados, I am coming with more of my creative crafts and my intent on connecting with my generation a lot more. I’ve been doing my work and personal study for the past 7-10 years, and I have not felt like I’ve created a familiar space here where my family is from. I’ve done it all over the world where I had no personal connection, so it was important for me to begin a creative space here on the island,” he explained.
In creating his space that would uplift his art to new heights by appealing to the mind, soul and body of clients, Emilio sought the advice and artistic partnership from Mahdiyyah, who up to this point has been seen as a must-watch fashion mogul from the New Jersey area.
Unlike other designers, 29-year-old Mahdiyyah prefers a more hands on approach to her art; her unique sew skills added to her Sudanese background gives her a vivid flare with her pieces that her clients gravitate towards to.
Though it is her first time on the island, her experience so far during her meetings with local artists has been an inspiring one.
“I definitely feel as though I’ve had a warm welcome here from everyone I met so far. Being able to just move around and speak to people from various walks of life has been inspiring. I did a few e-mails out to persons and some messaging on Instagram to reach out to people and they have been very receptive,” she said.
The new collection, called ‘Earth Rhythms’, intends to be the amalgamation of the group’s skill and experience over the years in fashion, as well the addition of West Indian vibes. Not only were all the designs for the new brand done here on the island, but all the material was sourced on the island as well.
“Well I am a seamstress by trade, and have been sowing since I was about 10 years old. Malcolm himself had the vision and designs for a lot of the pieces, while I added in what was also in my mind to the fabric. We really thought it was important to create our own textiles and not just purchase fabrics and just make anything. We really wanted to take our inspiration, energy and vibe that we were receiving here on the island and channel that into the final pieces,” Mahdiyyah revealed.
With their experience on the international platform, the two designers both believe it is important for artists from African descendants, to fully leverage their background when creating new pieces for market, as this approach would inevitably help them stand out in the fashion world in what has proven to a very competitive field.