British fashion designer, Grace Wales Bonner’s Spring 2021 Menswear collection is a beautifully retro, jewel-toned tribute to her Jamaican heritage. The Central Saint Martin’s graduate regularly explores black culture through her designs, and her most recent collection takes inspiration from early-1980s Jamaica, and dancehall and reggae culture. Wanting to put her own spin on this, she looks to her upbringing in London and adds a British twist to her Jamaican roots.
The collection, which is called Essence, features bold prints and textures combined with immaculate Savile Row tailoring and British styles, representing the amalgamation of cultures that was emerging in 1970s and 1980s London. The first look of the collection features a striped, tailored nightshirt, worn over black tailored trousers and brown leather boots. Taking inspiration from the dashiki, a formal garment worn in Africa, Bonner shows how cultures can be combined, resulting in wearable and elegant menswear pieces. Bonner’s collaboration with Adidas Originals is a unique and shining addition to this collection, consisting of matching tracksuits and the iconic Adidas three-stripe shorts in silky jockey-like purple and green. The collection also features womenswear looks of long box-pleated skirt suits in tartan, or in black with the pop of a pink collar. One look consists of a gorgeous matching ribbed knitted top and skirt in green, blue, and yellow, which is perhaps Bonner’s way of subtly including Jamaican-inspired colours into her collection. This collection proves that Bonner succeeds in creating formal and chic menswear and womenswear that can be bright and modern, whilst also managing to represent and extol her culture.
In an interview with Vogue, Bonner stated that “the brand was conceptualized as a means to elevate the location of Blackness within the fashion landscape”, and by creating such a beautiful collection that takes inspiration from her Jamaican heritage, she inspires other young BIPOC designers to embrace their culture and history within their work.
– Megan Finch
Featured image source: Still via Thinkin Home, Wales Bonner // YouTube. Director of Photography: Jeano Edwards