In 2008, he erupted on the scene with a burst of color, inimitable eye for shapes, a distinct approach to style, and an unparalleled presence. One would suppose this is the crescendo of the narrative, but every story has a beginning, and this perhaps is his. For those reading, you should know something bold and eye-catching is happening. When? Or how? – Well, all of those details are still appealing mysteries. Why? However, is a question to be answered with much certainty – because Mr. Andre Rowe is already a fashion visionary at the age of 25.
Unable to fund a fashion education in the United States, he chose to pursue a degree in Food and Beverage Management at the University of Technology, Jamaica. Though he made the educational decision to focus on what he describes as his second love, he was relentless in his pursuit of his first love. He explains, “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to be a fashion designer.” Born in the 90s, Rowe has always been intrigued by pop culture and has long anticipated the shift from admiring other designers in magazines to the day when his own designs would be in high demand.
He describes his design style as an “urban chic aesthetic,” which he channels through his innate creativity and unique approach to finding inspiration. “I can be just walking and I see garbage and become inspired by that,” he adds, “in essence though, it is about being modern, futuristic and trying to achieve a new look for the Caribbean or Jamaica, and bring that international edge to the local scene.”
On his quest to transform fashion in the Caribbean, Rowe entered and won the 2013 Avant Garde Designer of the Year competition – the longest running design competition in the English Caribbean. “Winning the Avant Garde Designer award was actually quite surprising for me, because [when] entering a competition, there is that one percent doubt, and at that time I saw so many great pieces, and I was wondering: “is mine going to be the one? Is it going to be good enough?” The expression of the term – hard work pays off – I guess that was the end result of that show because it took me three weeks to get that dress done. I went through at least 10 sketches, before I arrived at that one look.
Rowe’s win only motivated him to work harder towards his goals. Since then, he has designed for the President & CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company – Kelly Tomblin, as well as the Deputy Director of Tourism in Jamaica. In addition, he has collaborated with Puma and a few North American designers. He hopes to revolutionize the Caribbean fashion scene in the same way his favorite designers – Christopher Bailey of Burberry and John Galliano, the creative director of Maison Martin Margiela – have done globally for fashion. He explains, “in terms of fashion, I have no boundaries.”
There is an authenticity and emotionality present in Rowe’s designs that separates him from others – “fashion has to have a purpose. It has to have a meaning and tell a story and when you see a look by Andre Rowe it should have a momentum to it that can last.”
Photos Courtesy of Wade Rhoden via Andre Rowe