Fashion Fridays: Tallawa Collection

Words by Mikaila Brown—


Blaze up di chalwa, likkle but me tallawa

These lyrics from Sizzla Kalonji not only impacted the reggae/dancehall scene in 2002, but also capitalized on a popular idiom that has come to represent Jamaica as an island. Though smaller than any US state, Jamaica’s place as a major player within the world’s athletic and musical arenas is astounding. The word “tallawa” is a colloquial term within Jamaican parlance that refers to Jamaicans’ strong-willed determination and refusal to be restrained by smallness. (“We likkle but we tallawa” goes a common Jamaican saying). Tallawa is also the name of a fashion brand started in 2012 by Brooklyn-based Jamaican couple John and Hillary Levy. John designs the custom prints that characterize the line, and Hillary constructs the clothing.

True to its name, this line is bold, strong and captivating. The objectives of the Spring 2013 collection are ambitious, even for a newer and “likkle” line. It offers clothing for both men and women, along with wall art and accessories. Tallawa is successful in balancing a range of inspirations throughout each of its pieces. Old meets new, homeland meets diaspora, sanctioned meets street. The designers’ appreciation of African art and culture are represented in the bright splashes of color that characterize Tallawa’s prints, as well as the loose, yet classic cuts that flow gracefully around the body.

This line is for the stylistically courageous. In the same way that Jamaica does not cower behind the limits of its geographic area, the Tallawa customer expects to be noticed. For more information on this line, check out their website and follow them @TallawaNYC on Twitter and Instagram.

Mikaila Brown is lead designer and founder of ALIAKIM, a socially conscious fashion line. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter at AliakimInc and Instagram at aliakimsmom.



Tallawa’s Hillary and John Levy