Fashion Fridays: Jamaica’s Love Affair with the Mesh Marina

June 20, 2014

Busy Signal photo by Damien “LookYah” Baddy

Lately, artists have been playing with the style as a retro nod to the earlier days of reggae and dancehall. The knitted top reemerged at the top of last year in the highly stylized video for “Watch Out For This (Bumaye)” from dancehall deejay Busy Signal and international EDM crew Major Lazer, and was spotted in reggae artist Protoje’s recent “Who Knows” video featuring Chronixx. Aidonia wore one for his “80s Dancehall Style” music video, as do Konshens and Romain Virgo in their old school-themed clip “We No Worry Bout Them.”

Iba Mahr celebrates rudeboy style in his song “Diamond Sox,” a collaboration with producers Notis, describing a uniform of diamond socks, Wallabee Clarks, Arrow shirt and mesh marina, style elements further honired in the song’s Rockers-inspired video. This extends into the realm of Kingston’s expansive party culture as well, with themed events such like February’s “Mesh Marina & Diamond Socks” party popping up around town.

While the garment is currently enjoying a renaissance in Jamaican popular culture, it can’t exactly be labeled a trend. The mesh marina has long been a mainstay item in Jamaica because it provides an important function: to keep dry and cool. The “string vest,” as the mesh marina is also known, was conceived from this simple necessity.

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