Teen Vogue Generation Next Designer Edvin Thompson of Theophilio on Merging His Worlds of Jamaica and Brooklyn


Moving to Brooklyn in 2014 also inspired Thompson. “Brooklyn is not far from Jamaica in regards to just culture,” he says. “It honestly feels like home here. So just navigating that, it’s a tangible way of accessing my inspirations. Brooklyn has adhered to my cultural background. And even through my designs, I think New York’s pretty progressive culture has really assisted with the edge in the way that I create my clothing.” 

Thompson also found a community of friends here, a group of creatives that pushed him to start his own line. “I think with any brand or company, a community is very vital in assisting that brand’s growth, because it is, in some form, a leader in whatever community they serve,” the designer says. “The people in my community, they help with really churning out its ideology and sentiments, and just being a part of the many stories that I share and discussions I have knowing I’m not the only one that has these experiences.”

Josefina Santos
Josefina Santos
Josefina Santos

Thompson’s design background is untraditional in that he has not supplemented it with a fashion school degree. He did move to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, though that didn’t pan out. But while living in Atlanta, from 2010 to 2014, he gained sewing experience with the help of mentors Mya Moto and Wynter Alex, co-owners of the now-closed vintage boutique Poor Little Rich Girl. “They were already propelled in the industry as renowned stylists,” he says of Moto and Alex. “They really took me and my best friend, Sakinah Bashir, in (she’s now a stylist in Los Angeles). They cradled and nurtured us, and gave us a really unique perspective on the industry before we decided to take that move to New York.”

After 12 years, Thompson recently made his way back to his community in Jamaica for the funerals of his grandmother and great-grandmother. The short film, Migration, which accompanies a recent collection, is a continuous recording of the coastline recorded from his family car while he was there. The sartorial marriage of Thompson’s homeland and current home in Brooklyn is evident in both hue and silhouette, especially in the Migration collection, where warm island colors, including the omnipresence of red, green, and gold (Rastafarian flag colors), fall on short skirts and silk dresses.

Josefina Santos

“With the collection, I was just thinking about marshland people moving and sharing their stories and having conversations on why people migrate,” Thompson says. “Many Americans think that immigrants are a threat to this country, and I believe that conversation is flawed. So with this collection, I wanted to have deeper conversations on why people do migrate: for love, for work, for education, and many flee to seek asylum. I think these conversations should be at the forefront of the topic of immigration.”

Josefina Santos
Josefina Santos

In the past year, Thompson’s clothes have been styled on the covers of major fashion magazines, including i-D, ColorBloc, and Teen Vogue. As opportunities continue to roll in for Thompson, he’s learning how to navigate the fashion industry, and the entertainment and art industries as well. He recently joined forces with the Black Fashion Fair, a cultural platform and shopping portal that is meant to support Black designers and help sustain their businesses. Thompson also has his sights set on creating a fragrance line and finally establishing a large enough studio space outside of his home to match the growth of Theophilio.



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