House of Byfield
Carmichael Byfield is a designer who prides himself on going against the grain. The luxury brand House of Byfield, established in 2011, doesn't do monochromatic suits. Think bold patterns and colours which, he says, are inspired by Jamaican culture.
Fashion design is in Byfield's DNA. "I can safely say it's a natural born gift," he told Outlook.
Byfield was born on Headley Avenue in Patrick City before moving to Portmore and then migrating to Brooklyn, New York, in the early '90s to be with his parents and siblings.
Today, as one of the top designers in The Netherlands, he spoke with Outlook about his journey in the fashion industry.
He revealed that his love for fashion was inspired by his grandparents Lystra and Uriah Gardner and his aunt, Georgette Gyles. "In the early '70s, they showered me with clothing, and I remember cutting anything I'd get my hands on using razors to shape clothing for my sister's dollies to make them dolly clothes. And no amount of beating from my dad could and would stop such an inborn gift," he stated.
His natural talent led him to study design at Parsons College in New York, where he earned an associate degree in fashion. While studying, he worked at fast-food restaurants to ensure that his dream would come true. He later went on to teach at Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York before relocating to The Netherlands in 2008. He told Outlook that it was this move that reignited his love for designing.
But why The Netherlands instead of any of the other European fashion capitals such as Milan or Paris? "I did that to prove a point which, after five years, I did successfully. I wanted the world to acknowledge the truth that it's not about Paris, Milan, New York, and Berlin which are labelled as the fashion capitals. So, intentionally, wilfully, deliberately and spitefully, I came to The Netherlands. I saw and conquered and it's now documented and acknowledged that (Carmichael Byfield) places The Netherlands in the top 10 fashion capitals, as The Netherlands was rated the number 15 fashion capital. Mission accomplished."
House of Byfield (HOB) has offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. His designs are about being bold yet sophisticated. His website states his ultimate goal is to "inspire the classic, refined men to wear his challenging, sportive classic suits or mix it up with their own style. The designs are especially designed that adding just one HOB piece to your look creates very exciting, edgy styling."
Byfield has shown his designs all over the world but is yet to make his debut in Jamaica. Though he has been invited before, he noted that on those occasions he wasn't in a position, financially, to do so. But now, "Given the chance or opportunity, I'd love to showcase on the brand expenses. Maybe Collection Moda."
Having showcased on New York Fashionweek twice (2015 and 2016), his favourite collection was one he showed last month. "I think that was my best. Maybe because it was picked up by four retailers in London starting September 2016."
With the Jamaican flag flying high, Byfield is placing his stamp on the fashion world.