For me as a designer, looking to those who came before me, is a essential part of my design development process. As I am addressing the issue of Jamaican identity it was key that I go back several hundred years, to truly understand the pattern of dress and where any styles I see today in Jamaica may have come from and evolved from, of which I can.
The first people of Jamaica the Taino (Arawak Indian’s) laid down the islands very first set of traditional dress. The kind of dress you would typically see in a warm climate. Apron style skirt with or without a under garment, and a bandeau (a strip of fabric around the bust). From the images collected below, the textiles used appear to be soft leathers/animal skin and woven cotton, both textiles can be light weight, long lasting and very dual, for the kinds of manual labour tasks they would carry out in there day to day living; comfort would be key. These styles of dress conformed to that, loose fitting with maximum comfort feel. This style of native dress are what we today perceive as swimwear separates (Bikini) and beach cover-up fashion. It’s fascinating to view, the apron style skirt as to me this has developed into what we would call a beach skirt or sarong today, just one of the many styles that have evolved as part of how we dress on the island during leisure and how the tourist dress when visiting warm climate countries. After viewing this key evidence, I would now like to start sketching up these shapes and styles for my design development process as the Arawak Indians will now form part of my main fashion muse focusing on identity. The silhouettes will inform the shapes you will see the development of in my collection.
Image Credit 1.2.3.and 4. http://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/pre-colonial-history/taino-indigenous-caribbeans/