Jamaican designer making history in the Netherlands
“Though I am Jamaican born, I have learned the fashion rules and have broken all of them”
Jamaica’s very own Carmichael Byfield has taken the world of fashion design by storm. Byfield, who prides himself on going against the grain, is the proud owner and designer of the luxury brand “House of Byfield.” Established in 2011, Byfield’s brand is known for its bold patterns and colors, which are inspired by Jamaican culture. Carmichael Byfield is multifaceted, making his mark not only as a fashion designer, but as a dynamic creator. His brand spreads across the fashion spectrum with designs in men’s wear, women’s wear, lingerie and fragrances. As one of the top designers in the Netherlands, Byfield shared his creative journey in the fashion industry.
When did your journey in design begin?
The journey started I would say in 1980. The pre-vision started at age 5 while making clothing for my sister’s dolls in Portsmouth, Jamaica. This was during the early 80’s as far as I can remember with a few flashbacks, and countless stories told to me by my mom and other family members. Without knowing the danger of what I was doing, I was using razors to cut just about anything, meaning in fabrics, clothing from siblings, table cloth, curtains, you name it. Obviously this was something I would say is a rather natural gift, because I would get countless compliments of how great I was. I would also get countless beatings from my dad because during those times, as you can imagine, no macho man or dominant man wants to see their son playing with toys for girls in that era.
What inspires you when you are creating a new collection?
Throughout the early 90’s I was and still am a huge fan of Versace, Ted Lapidus, Nicole Miller, Moschino, Donna Karen, to name a few. Also around 1994 when the American rappers, such as P Diddy and Biggie Small, used to sing about Versace in their music, which made the Dancehall fraternity very competitive and wanting to keep up with the fashion. The crews, such as Äfrican crews, Park Side crews, Ouch crew, Bad & Ready crew, Fashion crew, Up-To-Date crew, we all ran-up in those high-end stores like, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, just to get the latest of the designers brands to boast on each other to see who stands out the best. So Dancehall is a big inspiration to me.
Your designs are filled with patterns and colors. Is this inspired by Jamaican culture?
Since relocating from New York to the Netherlands, I carefully looked to the Dutch fashion market and what I observed is that the Dutch don’t have a wonderful sense of style with fashion. They are very boring and dull with standard colors, such as black, brown, gray and blue. Therefore, after observing, I thought that I don’t want to be a part of that, so I created something new on October 21, 2011, using a bit of my Jamaican flare with bright colors and patterns and surprisingly it has worked.
You migrated from Jamaica and now you are considered one of the top designers in the Netherlands. How does that make you feel coming from Patrick City to where you are now?
Yeah actually it’s a great pleasure and it feels really good to have accomplished and earned a title in a no zone fashion country. The Netherlands is a no zone fashion country. They are rated number 17 in the top fashion countries and that’s a huge shame. I have hope in the younger sets of fashion designers in the Netherlands. The brand House of Byfield have been and continue to be published in some of the world’s elite and classy magazines and as of today, the brand now has 5 awards to its resume. The brand has also graced more than 10 different international magazine covers.
You are launching your new fragrance and lingerie line. What inspired you to take this route?
I first launched “Celina Byfield” women 100ml fashion fragrance in July 2015, that was a dedication to my daughter. Later that year in November 2015, I launched “He’s Carmichael” men fashion fragrance 100ml. A year later I’ve launched two other women’s perfume and recently I launched a new women’s fragrance for a dear friend of mine in New York.
What is the concept behind your lingerie line and how do you want people to feel while wearing your pieces?
Women gravitate to lingerie, and women like to feel and be sexy. Lingerie also sells yearly, and I am clever enough to always incorporate women’s lingerie and men’s underwear.
You have always gone against the grain. What’s next for you in this new decade of fashion and runway?
I have always gone against the grain, that’s something I do intentionally and deliberately since the brand’s existence. It has worked and it’s rewarding from the consumers. The brand House of Byfield will have its first international runway show for 2020 in Kazakhstan in April and we are also preparing to have the brand’s clothing for sale in one the biggest retail stores in Romania.