CARLTON BROWN, CARIB FASHION'S GREATEST SHOWMAN
While most menswear presentations will boast formulaic fast-fashion prints, wide ranges and celebrity faces; Carlton Brown is committed to doing things a bit differently. His most recent appearance at The Collection MoDa 2017 runway showcase was a triumphant display of mastery. It was an intense bite of masculine sophistication, expert tailoring and thoughtful entertainment. The presentation had all the recognizable multi-everything orchestration of retooled gentleness - with which Carlton Brown has revived his brand as a powerhouse with global reach.
Ok, so it may have taken me 3 years of sitting in amazement at CB’s showmanship to dive into my obsession with the menswear designer’s deep and authentic creativity and innovation. But, nothing before it’s time. This year we experienced a sort of undeniable appreciation for the thoughtful execution that’s now become a tradition for the brand. You hear Carlton Brown and you fasten your seat belts for you are about to experience the best in show. It’s whole a thing now.
Fine there’s no longer a race to the finish to crown Jamaica’s leader in menswear, as every other label has apparently taken their hats out of the ring. See, from where I sit its simple. To sell menswear to Jamaican men -who are among the most stylishly intuitive, deeply discerning and irreverently gaudy creatures- you must satisfy their most basic need, to show off. There, I said it. From the humblest doctors with their generic upper St Andrew lifestyles to the in-the-streets Bad Boys of Dancehall, men on the rock craves visibility. Whatever the agenda, being seen and complimented is the whole point and purpose.
So who is the Carlton Brown guy? In many ways, the look is analogous to Brown’s much-loved blazer styles -sleek, sporty, and tailored to a T- but with a casual spirit that seems intrinsic to Caribbean style. Agent Sasco, Asafa Powell, Neville Belle and Usain Bolt are just a few members of the elite group of men that crosses their T’s and dots their I’s with a CB label.
"So who is the Carlton Brown guy? In many ways, the look is analogous to Brown’s much-loved blazer styles -sleek, sporty, and tailored to a T- but with a casual spirit that seems intrinsic to Caribbean style."
"This is some serious Saville Row quality"
"Such an amazing show!"
"Absolutely stunning finishing..."
"Activating Agent Sasco for a catwalk long surprise performance was rockstar as fuck (and really really relevant to the conversation of cross-commerce)."
Think of this brand as something of a dust-flecked golden beam cutting through the harder, sportier streetwear shroud that still dominates the zeitgeist. ‘Urban’ is still pretty much the go-to scheme of dressing for men with assumed ‘style and swagger’. Personally, If I must suit up, it has to be fun. And what Carlton possess that most menswear designers don’t (and you see it in the way he presents) is that perfect balance of class and quality meets fun and function.
‘The Mirror Collection’ on the runway translated that formula. It calculated the huge potential of Jamaican menswear - to satisfy the style culture of masculine men with spirit. Which is, in my mind; the unspoken ethos of the brand. Activating Agent Sasco for a catwalk long surprise performance was rockstar as fuck (and really really relevant to the conversation of cross-commerce).
CB has made it to the biggest dancehall and reggae stages on the backs of both the previous and the new generation of dancehall heroes. Beenie Man, Aidonia, Alkaline and Devin Di Dakta are all music industry magnets that are strongly attracted to the CB suit life. Another highlight of this year’s presentation was the bridging of a multigenerational gap by way of plaids and pleats. Among the cast stood retired models, businessmen, musicians, actors and a pair of twins. But perhaps most significant was Tyrese Brown, son and heir to the Carlton Brown dynasty and the show’s marquee model. As the proverbial curtains fell on a winning performance, it was clear that Carlton Brown as Caribbean fashion’s greatest showman is regional menswear’s most appropriate and deserved appointment. Designers, husbands and wives all signed their mental checkbooks with a cerebral reminder of where to look when in need of the ‘best in suits’.