I’ve known Payne for quite some time. I had the opportunity of meeting and working with him through Vincy E-Zine, a fashion and lifestyle magazine e-magazine based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I was always intrigued by his personal style and blown away by his immense talent.The thing about Payne is this- beyond his talent, beyond his fashion-critical eye and his ability to turn the average into the extraordinary, he is one of the most beautiful creative souls that I have ever encountered. When I decided to do this interview, I wanted to know more about Jeremy than he usually allows into the world. I sent him the questions. He was concerned about rambling. I told him I’d edit. Upon receiving his responses, I realized that there was nothing about them (or him) that I would ever want to change.
This is Payne, unedited.
Who is the Payne guy/gal? What does the Fashion Is Payne brand personify?
The PAYNE guy/gal is a cool and confident individualist who appreciates Art and fashion and wants to look put-together but feel totally comfortable while they’re on the go. Fashion Is Payne strives to fuse the fine arts with fashion design. We want our customers to be comfortable but feel special while wearing our clothing and accessories. There’s a lot of empowerment in pairing those qualities together.
You do both menwear and womenswear. What do you find different about the construction of each? Which do you prefer? Why?
It’s a constant journey getting to understand the analogy of different body types. It’s an interesting time for fashion having menswear and womenswear influence each other. That being said, it’s very exciting to work on both currently. Understanding the PAYNE customer helps greatly with construction and designing collections.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections? Who is your/the ultimate muse?
[This may sound] cliché but inspiration really does come from everywhere. I’ve just had to understand my work process better as there are many days when inspiration comes knocking at the door at 10AM and if my head-space isn’t right and I’m not prepared to greet it, it’s[inspiration] going to the neighbors’. Not sure who my ultimate muse is. I suppose I have many. I am influenced greatly by my friends who are all forces to be reckoned with. They inspire me to stay true to my aesthetic and keep me gracefully, but not always, on my feet.
How do you immerse yourself in the creative process? What is the motivation/driving force behind the brand?
Tea. Motivation is a big deal. Huge! I do tend to struggle daily with staying motivated and on the ball. My close friends know my battle. It’s very easy to throw in the scissors and give up but I work best when my phone’s not in the room and there’s no one around, there’s space with all my materials and I can carry on without distractions. This has been pretty hard to do recently, as I’m usually doing several things at any given time, juggling between trying to meet deadlines, answering emails, taking orders, scheduling fittings, painting, researching. It’s a lot of work to do on your own. Surely, my close friends are the ones to keep me grounded. They believe in the brand as much as I do although I’m not sure they can sew an inch of fabric to save their lives. I could not have gotten this far without them and I cherish them for it so I make it my business to spend time with them knowing that I or they can be gone in a second. *knock wood*
The decision to be self-employed takes a lot of focus, dedication and support. It’s certainly not a venture that every person can undertake. How do you do it? Words of advice to anyone who wants to go this route?
Every New Year, instead of giving myself horrid resolutions that I know for sure I will not keep past January, I give myself 3 words of things I should achieve for myself. They are usually good character traits that pop into my head when I feel myself straying. They’re quick reminders of the path I need to be on. Mixed with that, I send up a lot of prayers daily as I have mad need for God and I tend to think we’re best friends so usually the prayers start & end like “God? Here we go again”. No one pushed me into starting my own business, that’s something I think you should decide for yourself as you’d probably be doing it alone anyways, but when you do get into being self-employed make sure you have a clear vision of where you’re going. It may change and that’s fine, have a vision and put things in place to remind you of it whenever you sense yourself straying. Mental Fortune Cookies. I should coin that phrase?
What are your thoughts on the Fashion Industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? Is there an industry to begin with? As a designer, what type of support do you think creatives needing in order to push their brands and their aesthetic/craft forward?
There’s an unstructured industry and there’s lots I can say about the lack of structure and the potential for greatness. I think one of the first steps to creating an efficient and functioning industry would be to educate the public on what fashion on the larger spectrum entails. There are a lot of misconceived ideas about what we are a part of and how things work and by ‘We’ I mean the people that are already here and working. It’s a little unfortunate that most locals don’t see fashion as something to invest in but are so greatly entertained by it and that’s okay because fashion has always created an element of glamour and fantasy that helps us to escape yet there is more to it than that. Once there’s a general understanding of how creative industries operate, the ways in which creatives can be supported should me more lucid.
A lot of your work tends to appeal to a very afro-centric and afro-centered type of person. Very African. Very tribal. Very indigenous to our (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) shores. Any special connection? What’s your message? Apart from a piece of clothing or jewelry, what do you want your customer to take with them after making a purchase?
I’ve always had a strong connection to adornment and transformation. African culture has one of the largest archives of costume and body decoration in history which has trickled down into different cultures including that of the Caribbean. Watching National Geographic on a Saturday morning and attending Vincy Mas as a kid exposed me to this mass array of different translations of color and pattern and other formal elements. So it feels very natural to do things that are a little or a lot Afro-native-indigen-US no matter the current trend or influence. I want the PAYNE customer to feel excited about living and connecting. We go through so much daily that it helps to be in full armor to deal with it all. I’ve experienced customers getting so many compliments while wearing their PAYNE tee or dress, and it’s usually because they feel comfortable and confident in the clothing, and it shows. I want them to feel empowered to go forth and conquer.
Beyond the glitz and the glamour, the artist, the creative, the designer: Who is Jeremy Payne?
My self is many things and that makes me a proper Swiss-army knife. I wish I were as laid back as the brand appears. Always mug shot ready. I enjoy being visually stimulated by things that are slightly awkward and unconventionally beauty-full. I tend not to get bored with myself as I can always find something to make or do. My friends and family are everything. I get easily annoyed, tolerant but not the most patient. Usually very anxious about everything. Love Instagram for the images. Complete hopeless romantic. Maximum-Minimalist, I live on opposite ends of the spectrum with most things. I’d want my corpse play me in my Biopic… anyone else is sure to get it dead wrong.
Payne was recently featured in IGABURI: Part 1 of a Fashion Documentary by Vincentian producer and videographer Mr. Retail . Head on over to my Facebook page to hear more about Fashion Is Payne in his own words.