“I think I’m twenty-one years old, I always forget.” laughs fashion entrepreneur Mikyle Gibbons as he introduces himself to me and the camera for the third time that afternoon. His striking aesthetic is entirely self-designed, from the trendy denim jacket he embellishes with multiple pins to his sleek black pants.
“I have been stitching for about four years now, I attended BCC (Barbados Community College) which was a two year programme where I got my associates degree.” As the soft spoken artist speaks I can’t help but to admire his jacket. He likes flowers he tells me, and there are some subtle patterns interwoven on the jacket amidst the clean yellow stitches.
“I’ve been in about four shows, BMEX 2017/ 2018, CAFA 2018 and Barbados Fashion week 2018.” The big names roll off his tongue with ease and he seems to be unaware of the major implications they suggest – for someone only twenty-one years old it is quite impressive. We shift further away from the late afternoon glare of summer as my photographer/videographer Ahkeem Daley begs us to pause. He forgot his tripod and has been crouching for a couple minutes in.
“What has the process been like, coming from BCC and then launching yourself into fashion shows locally and regionally? Was it an easy process or was it like….”
“Well it was-it wasn’t difficult-difficult cause BCC got a programme where like you’re supposed to design ten pieces. BMEX would normally collaborate with BCC and let us showcase our stuff.”
“Ohh okay so they provide some opportunities for you guys-”
“Yeah there are already some opportunities.”
I wanted to know what drew him to fashion design, and I’m itching for a way to ask. Somehow though he seems to already know what is on the tip of my tongue:
“So what was your inspiration to – well -”
“Start stitching?” he quips and I laugh.
“Well yeah, stitching, sketching…”
“I guess you could say it started at lodge school where I entered a model search-cause I had originally come from Deighton Griffith but I did sixth form there. The fashion show they had… I entered and coming on to the end I had no one to make my stuff so I was like ‘alright there has to be someway to do this’, cause I don’t really like spending money that sort of way.”
“I feel you…” I quipped. #vintagelife
“I started getting a needle and thread and putting things together, taking apart shirts and reassembling them. I used fabric glue and glitter. At the end of the show I came like third, so I was like okay. My sister brought down her sewing machine so I just went messing around with it and stuff like that and taking in like a cardigan but I took it in too tight. I was like chaa what I
gine do… I bought some material and just placed it on top of that… and it worked. I guess after that my friends starting catching on that I had a knack for it and they were like man you could start stitching and stuff like that. I just started to grow from there.”
“So basically you discovered your genius by accident.”
“Pretty much.” he smiles.
“So I have noticed a lot of print in your designs and anything that was like a solid colour seemed more pastel or electric. Do you do it on purpose or….”
“I guess I do it on purpose. I would mostly wear like black and anything other than that is light. I like prints though cause if it’s like a solid colour it doesn’t really say much unless you got some designs and inserts in. I like flowers though… somewhere in this there are flowers.” he says, tracing the intricate designs on his jacket.
“Any particular materials you like to work with? Are there any that you hate?”
“I hate cotton lycra fabric because it just doesn’t stretch, like if you were trying to make a shirt it just doesn’t go anywhere… my favourite would be stretched twill. Let us say you cut a square out of something some materials would stretch bigger and some would move, but that would just stay right there.”
“So do you enjoy catering more to men or women or would you say your style is more neutral?”
“Hmmm on the formal wear side I like to cater more to women. I cater to everybody but I normally get a lot of feedback from women especially when it is like graduation dresses so they really enjoy the wear. Men are more like ‘yeah I look clean’ and that is it.”
“Ahh so women appreciate it more… no offense to men.”
“So yeah I would more so cater to women than men but I still cater to everybody.”
“Ohh okay. Is there a particular message or idea you like to push behind your designs or do you more focus on the aesthetic side of it?”
“I would more so try in stitching to stitch as best as I could… making sure all inside looks finished… and I go for a clean finish. I learned that from Rhaj Paul too, trying to maintain excellence I guess. It is a mix of both, stitching good and making sure the final look is good.”
“So making sure everything is clean and well put together.”
“Yeahh and that it fits you well.”
“Where can we purchase clothes? How do we contact you?”
“I guess on instagram mostly my handle is @mak.gious. So that is like my brand name as well. It comes from my name Makkery and my last name Gibbons so I just tried shortening it down. I used to have Mak G but too many people had Mak G for their names on facebook so I had to come up with something. I don’t know… some acronym hit me one day and it was like g-i-o-u-s which means greatness in our unique souls.”
“I love that.”
“So I was like alright, yeah this can work. So they can just contact me at that and I guess you could DM for my number. I do most of my business through instagram… a lot of people contact me through instagram. “
“Where would you like to see your brand in the next five years?”
“In five years… hmm first I wanna start off with Barbados to at least have an established brand and store. I am still a bit hazy with where I wanna go overseas but I just wanna start here, doing shows and stuff.”
“Do you find there is a particular season where you notice a peak in sales?”
“I would say June around June graduation time… I got a lot of orders for that particular month… and then when I finished working. I used to work at Big B supermarket. I was a customer attendant. One day I was just like, man I done wid this and I started in January. I have not hit any lows as yet cause the work just keeps coming and coming… but my highest was in June.”
Mikyle is now full-time.
“Before it was just part time like on the side.” he informs me. On that note, I am curious as to how he garners traffic.
Is Barbados doing enough to highlight local designers?
“I would say yeah Barbados does work with you to some degree especially if you are well known… because there are like a good few shows you can just go and participate in. I would give them a fifty-fifty. They do try to showcase you but there isn’t a big push. It isn’t like overseas where you got like France, etc. People mostly just look for a few tailors and that is that.”
“Do you ever experience a creative block? How do you overcome it?”
“Not really a block as most of the time when people come to me they already have some idea in their heads so I just try to execute that, and then put a twist on it. If I am doing something for myself though, I would just start doing something and come up with it then. It just starts to flow
as I’m stitching.”
“Are there any other creatives you would like to work with in the future?”
“Definitely Rhaj Paul. Many others. One of my good friends name Azriel, he does alot of jeans, and he also does leather bags. I would really like to work with him because he does got all of these cool stitching lines, which I really admire about him.”
“How would you describe your brand’s style in one word or a few words?”
“I don’t want to say high class but it’s more overseas influenced. I would more so try to incorporate Caribbean colours but in terms of make I look to overseas designers.”
“Has it been difficult maintaining your status in the fashion world?”
“Not really, if I do experience lows one week the next week there are a lot of highs. Guess my problem may come if money was leaving me alot, well spending wise. That happened to me alot after I resigned from my old workplace. Money was coming but not fast enough… Like it was
coming slow and then spending fast. So I guess that was one point in my journey when I started…it was not low, low but enough to make you miserable.”
“It has balanced out now?”
“Yeahh pretty much. It could be higher but I just wanna even out the process. Balancing working full time is difficult. I have to plan out everything. If you forget one thing there is like a domino effect that affects everything. Like today I was home stitching but then I had to come here so I had to stop stitching. Now I gotta go drop off something and head somewhere else. It is a lot of moving around.”
You wanna cop that jacket as much as I do?
- written by T’afari Steede.
- Photos by Ahkeem Daley and Taaj De Rushe