Creating signature T-shirts channelling the energy of Dancehall Image

by Biko Kennedy

If you coupled the dynamic and ever head-turning persona of the world of Dancehall with the creative chic of urban wears, the result would be in the form of RepJA.

The clothing label that boasts itself as one of the few that showcases Caribbean/American culture in edgy styles has become popular among a number of local and international celebrities and plans to evolve their reach even further. spoke with Omar Thomas from the Dancehall-inclined fashion label to learn more about their company as well as their latest design.

Jamaicansmusic: You guys are currently promoting the Bounty Killer-slanged Tee "Cross Hangry Miserable", why choose this slang and how do you go about selecting the slangs to print?

Omar Thomas: We have hundreds of ideas/concepts that are stored and or written down. We usually go over this list every couple of weeks to decide what we actually send to print, as well as new concepts are added constantly. We chose the Cross, Hangry Miserable tee based on the Bounty Killa vs. Tommy Lee "demon" hype/feud. As you know Bounty Killa is always proclaiming his religious views and love for GOD. We came up with a clever way to depict that visually.

JAmusic: RepJA has been around from '06, how has the brand evolve over the years and where to you see room for improvement?

OT: As a brand our designs have graphically grown stronger. We've learned the ins and outs of running a fashion brand/clothing line the correct way from production, shipping, inventory etc. The brand has maintained a consistent look and feel to our designs. We always push to always catch people off guard with our execution of the concept. The evolution of the brand is more behind the scenes which is understanding our customers and realizing who is actually buying our brand. With this information we are able to choose our designs wisely and strategically (for example we released the 'crush it light it' t-shirt with Mickey Mouse hands and that shirt was our biggest cross over shirt to where Caribbean's and Americans could wear equally. That was a strategic move). There's always room for improvement. This year you will see us getting more active in the streets with promotion, sponsoring more events, collaborations, viral campaigns and being more vocal overall as a brand.

JAmusic: Using lines from varying songs or a simply catchphrase from an artiste may undertake some copyright issues. Does the artiste(s) receive royalty for their popularized quotes? Or is there a mutual understanding between the brand and the artistes?

OT: Lines from songs, movies, etc. are used as inspiration all the time in fashion. Most of the artistes do not get any royalties from those designs unless an understanding has been agreed upon. In our case we don't have a direct connection with these artistes; we have tried multiple times to reach them however we have been unsuccessful at those attempts. Our goal is empower everyone around us by building the right partnerships. Internally we want to partner with the right artiste to release a t-shirt with and make it financially beneficial for both parties, until that time comes we will continue to show the power of these phrases with our design genius behind it and bring awareness to our culture graphically. JAmusic: Where is RepJA's biggest market and why do you think this particular demography gravitates to the street-wear faster/easier than others?

OT: Our biggest market is international/overseas market. The brand JAMAICA has literally done all the work for us to influence the world. Our job is to show another aspect of Jamaica which is the fashion. People gravitate towards RepJA (Represent Jamaica) because it looks like what they're used to wearing from American/European brands but its represents the island they are infatuated with. We are simply highlighting a street wear culture that's there and showing the Jamaican influence in that scene.

JAmusic: With the ever shifting plates of the fashion world, how do you keep relevant with your designs to stay ahead of the pack?

OT: We pay attention to the biggest names in the American/European game…we live and watch street wear culture heavy, as well as high fashion and we draw our inspiration/creativity from that. Staying relevant is simply doing the unexpected and not being cliché! We prefer to be trail blazers and not the status quo!

Check out the promotional clip for their latest Tee here

Do check out their website and other designs here

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