»You have to have certain swag to be Jamaican.«

posted on June 15th, 2010 by in Article, Fashion, SEEN


© kingstonstyle

Almost exactly one year ago, I was wondering why there was no Jamaican street fashion blog or at least none that I knew of or that deserved that name.

But it’s 2010 now and kingstonstyle laces up to fill that gap. We linked Eve Manning and Biggy Bigz – the duo behind kingstonstyle – to learn more about their project, about high-end brands in a partly third-world environment, about the reasons for some Jamaican men to put on rather feminine looks and more.

First of all, please let the people know what kingstonstyle is about.

Eve Manning:

KS is all about showcasing the raw energy and complexity of Jamaican ‘fashionistas’. We bring together a totally different style from how other sites present Jamaican fashion and or dancehall fashion. It’s not an outsider looking in, it’s from actual participants who have a love for what we do and have a clear understanding of art, style and aesthetics.

Biggy Bigz:

Ye, kingstonstyle is about showing street fashion and style in a different form like it’s never done before from Kingston, Jamaica. Our main goal is to get the Jamaican street fashion across to the world and becoming Jamaica’s first fashion blog.

What is it about Jamaican (street) fashion that interests you the most?

Eve Manning:

In one word creativity, I also love the bravado it takes to wear the clothes. You have to have certain swag to be Jamaican that’s why the world loves us in spite of our bad behavior at times. Nothing can be too tight, too short, too colorful and/or gaudy for some of us to wear and wear well. On the other hand, the same Dancehall Queen from last night will have a flip side and her daily life is completely conservative. So I guess I love it that we are all a little insane.


© kingstonstyle

How do you get your pictures – I mean which events do you go to and which people do you approach?

Biggy Bigz:

I go to dance-hall and uptown parties and I normally approach people that are hardcore and high end as well. I go to evets such as Weddy Weddy, Wet Sundays, Hennessy Fridays, etc.

Eve Manning:

Jamaican people love the hype and love “tek picture”. For the most part we don’t have a big problem getting pictures if anything we have too much pictures to choose from (not that we are complaining). In general as long as you are polite and state clearly what you are about people have no problem getting their pictures taken.

On your pictures, quite often people are wearing out high-end brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci – are these original or fake and in case they’re mainly original – where do people buy them?

Eve Manning:

Put it this way, some places got passed over during the recession, and for the most part Jamaicans are notorious for spending on flash. Sometimes however if you think a brand is suspect you kinda make a joke or something the real ones will tend to want you to look at the tag and such and say things like; “seet deh afta dis nuh say made in China!” But when it comes to flossing and real name brands Jamaicans don’t play.

What are your favourite shops in Kingston to buy clothes, shoes, make-up, accessories etc.?

Eve Manning:

I am really Jamaican when it comes to clothes and shoes so I wait until a barrel comes, or my boyfriend goes foreign. If I really need something however: Down Town– Church Street have quite a few shops such as Mini’s, Stylish Woman and of course the trusted Audrey in the Arcade.
Cross Road- Miami Heat you are still able to find a few affordable pieces that won’t break the bank. Uptown– Flirt Boutique (the ladies there are very helpful and the service one of the best you can find it’s really expensive but I guess you pay for the smiles.), Shimmer and X-tras (they are snobby and not very helpful most times, it’s a good thing they have eye catching pieces.)

As for accessories, its always X-tras and Artique.

I’m a total make-up whore but Jamaica is very expensive in general and the markup on items is usually ridiculous so I tend to buy things online or wait until family and friends come back from abroad. I buy most of my supplies from Cherry’s on Balmoral, Body Accent the one upstairs the dark lady is really nice and really pretty but the other girl is such a bitch.

Are there any Jamaican fashion designers you really like and recommend to the world?

Eve Manning:

I’ve always liked Siim think she is super creative and her passion shows in her designs. Barry Moncrieffe does some pretty interesting things as well. Tami Chynn has a new line named Anúna it seems to have some staying power if managed well. However the Jamaican designer that I have the most respect for is Earl ‘Biggy’ Turner I think he is brilliant. The way he used to dress Shabba Ranks was sometimes unreal; I think I love the fact that his designs are hardcore but managed to pull off sexy for both men and women. I remember when I was in primary school or early high school I don’t remember but I know I wanted a leather and denim patchwork battyrider and jacket suit he made (and you wore it open without a bra), needless to say at the time it was a big no, no for me cause I couldn’t imagine what my mother would do to me if I ever brought home that outfit much less to put it on and say I’m going out in public.

Talking of Shabba – who do you think were/are the best-dressed Jamaican entertainers (past and present, male and female)?

Biggy Bigz:

Sanchez, Big Yute, Beenie Man, Bounty Killa, Lady Saw, Cecile, Lady G, Marcia Griffith, I-eye, Tami Chin, Cherine Anderson.

Eve Manning:

Best dressed Jamaican entertainers? Then most defiantly would include Bob Marley; did you see all the hot denim and leather he wore? I like that his style transcends the period as many pieces he wore are still popular now and are actual staples in any wardrobe. Also the I-threes especially Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths I remember going to the museum and seeing some of their costumes. You could see that there was a lot of love for quality clothes and longevity in the pieces. Unlike now to a point. Crooners like Gegroy Isaacs and Alton Ellis were pretty smooth too with their custom suits. I love Shabba Ranks and Ninja man because they are not afraid of being out there and taking risks. Super Cat too was pretty badass not only as an artist but also in his style.

Contemporary entertainers would be Tessanne Chin because she appeals to my rocker chick side, her sister Tami for most would be the obvious choice also. Natalie Storm, TIFA and Timberlee because they are not afraid to take risks in regards to fashion and that have to be respected. Not that I like Queen Ifrica’s style but like I said you have to respect people who take risks. You can’t mention stylish female artist without mentioning Lady Saw to me she has that “Madonna” element in that she reinvents herself ever so often and give the young girls a run for their money. Male contemporary artists would be Assassin, I-Octane and Konshens.

And when and why have some Jamaican men started to dress and style like women?

I think you can thank Bogle with the “out and bad” attitude he had at the time. Interpret “out and bad” however you want. In my estimation, a number of these men are latent homosexuals and the have no outlet, so it oozes out in a pink suck on shirt and a tight pants that you have to use baby oil on your legs and put plastic bags on your feet to get them up (yes this is actually what some men do to fit into the tight pants). The rest might be globalization and a collective sheep mentality but what’s life without a few fashion faux pas.

Thanks Eve and Bigz for taking the time!

Make sure to check kingstonstyle – fashion from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, on a regular basis!