Jawara Alleyne, Rihanna’s Favorite New Designer, Is Ready for the Next Chapter

The rising star of London fashion takes us behind the scenes of his studio as he launches a new bespoke ordering service and ironic t-shirt

“I’ve been here for seven years, but I really need to find a new place. I have so much stuff that I’ve definitely outgrown it,” says Jawara Alleyne as she guides us to her studio. Located on the ground floor of an imposing period building in London’s Bethnal Green, the space, made up of a series of interconnecting rooms, feels larger than some of London’s studios. young designers that I visited. visited, but Alleyne is right.

The beams of light that miraculously pass through his huge windows, on what looks like the singular spring day of 2024 in London, highlight the amount of stuff he has accumulated since becoming a resident. Mood boards lean against the walls, art, photography, music and fashion books are stacked precariously on shelves, samples swing on hooks, rails and chair backs, and rollers fabric are scattered everywhere. In one corner, a large horse’s head is perched atop a narrow unit. “I needed a horse for a photo shoot I was doing a while ago,” Alleyne recalls, “and my friend showed up with this. It was quite iconic.

Although he’s still looking for a place to call his new home – London’s rental market will do that to you – there couldn’t be a better time for Alleyne to start a new chapter. In February, during a special show which saw him invade Westminster St Mary Le Strand Church on the last day of fashion week, the designer launched his AW24 collection. “It was inspired by the hurricanes we were experiencing in the Caribbean,” says Alleyne, who grew up between Jamaica and Grand Cayman. “Every year we prayed that the storm would miss our island. I wanted the collection to be very chaotic and capture that vibe – as if the models had just grabbed whatever was closest to them and put it on before running for cover.

The eye of the storm, as the designer called his second solo collection after leaving Lulu Kennedy and the relative safety of the Fashion East family in early 2023, captured exactly that. Its signature jersey fabrics were instinctively wrapped around models’ bodies, assembled with Alleyne’s signature silver pins, to become makeshift skirts and symmetrical swaddle-like tops, while textured silhouettes in the form of buttoned jackets hooded, spread-collar beach shirts, and knee-length shorts featured unfinished hems and uneven stitching, adding to the frenzied feeling of the offering. His persistent disregard for the gender binary also hammered home: who has time to wonder whether they’re wearing men’s clothes or women’s clothes when they’re rushing to leave their house in the middle of night, anyway?

Fashion fans and the industry world were also blown away by the collection, which seemed like a big step forward for Alleyne. But her position on the precipice of international stardom was solidified when Rihanna called upon a selection of her pieces, taken directly from The eye of the storm offer. The fact that she was photographed in not just one, but a series of looks over the past six weeks would be a coup for any emerging designer, but Ri went further and called Alleyne her “new favorite designer” in a conversation with Interview magazine that almost broke the Internet.

“It was so surreal,” he laughs when I ask him what it felt like to see his quote all over Instagram. “She was always on the mood board. When I think of a strong Caribbean woman who moves with a lot of confidence, that has always been her,” he adds. This cry sparked a wave of interest from the press and beyond, which, even without Rihanna’s co-sign, has been snowballing for a while now. Now, as part of a tongue-in-cheek nod to her compliment, Alleyne has dropped a t-shirt with the quote: Pre-orders are open now, and as Ri also noted in the interview, there has a shortage of good things. fashionable tops, so get yours while you can.

This is partly why Alleyne feels ready to launch the next phase of growth for his eponymous brand, offering a new, personalized, bespoke service. It makes sense. While retailers largely subject young designers to on-sale or return contracts – meaning if their stock doesn’t sell, it’s returned to them without them receiving a penny – and many, like Matches , are at risk of closing due to a drastic drop in sales, the fashion landscape is particularly precarious for burgeoning creatives at the moment.

Among many emerging talents, cutting out the middleman and providing a direct line to customers is a concept that is radically gaining popularity. Fabric is not wasted, the whole process is much more collaborative, there is room to experiment and, importantly for Alleyne, he can speak to many more people, rather than having to Adhere to retailers’ existing size charts. which, in luxury fashion, are notoriously narrow. “London has always had this DIY spirit and focus on the underground and subculture, so it feels natural to do things my way,” he says. “Fashion isn’t really just about what happens on the catwalk. More than ever, it’s about what’s happening in the streets.

Watch Dazed’s video, which sees Alleyne giving us a tour of her studio and talking Rihanna, punk and that horse face, below, and click through the gallery above to see her latest campaign.