Eric's Yardie Blues in Jamaica

Eric's Yardie Blues in Jamaica

This week we have the total honor of showing you a collection of exclusive images from Kapital's latest book, 'Yardie Blues' shot by our pal Eric Kvatek in Jamaica. The collection was a collaboration between the brand and the Bob Marley family, who initially approached designer Kiro for the project years ago. If you know anything about Kapital, you'll know that a collaboration like this is a rarity, and something to be admired and for your eyeballs to savour. In celebration of the release, Eric has written a personal account of his unique perspective on the project.

“Sometimes the concept and location of the Kapital shoot is a harmonious collaborative decision between Kiro and me… this was not one of those times. Basically he demanded that we shoot in Jamaica. No ifs, ands or buts. So it was set that we would shoot in a place I have never once thought about going to, full of music I did not want to hear.

What actually interested me about Jamaica though is the contrast between this beautiful sunny island and the fact that it has one of the highest murder rates in the world. While scouting I listened to hours of Jamaican DJ Barry G who often addresses social issues on his show and I hung out in local neighborhoods in Kingston like Denham Town and an area declared to be in a constant State of Emergency and patrolled by the Jamaican Defense Force. I went to dance halls late at night with my local fixer where I was the only foreigner. The locals called me “Cowboy” and “Farmer” but were friendly and happy to drink Red Stripe with me. Over long nights there I became a fan of Reggae artists like Barrington Levy and Junior Reid.

Something I learned about Bob Marley while in Kingston is that he survived an attack by assassins. His wife Rita was shot in the head and Bob was shot twice, in the chest and the arm. Despite this, Bob honored his commitment to perform live two days later. The idea that a man or woman would put aside great personal pain to fulfill an obligation struck me deeply. One thing that Kiro and I both respect is triumphing against the odds. In a strange way, something extolled by both Japanese and Midwestern blue collar culture is a stoicism featuring a lack of excuse making and each person’s silent tolerance of pain in the pursuit of one’s work. For example, in order to produce the Bob Marley collection, Kiro worked seven days a week for a year. I imagine it was exhausting essentially designing two collections simultaneously, but when I saw him during the process, he never complained and he was excited about this unique opportunity.

In that spirit, we set forth to cast travelers and locals that embodied the spirit of strength, perseverance and victory. Our models include an Olympic gymnast, a kick boxer and a social worker. Each and every model we cast has faced challenges, endured pain and they have the scars to prove it.

All of that taken into consideration we titled the book ‘Yardie Blues’. Yardie is Jamaican slang for a local gang or group, kind of like a merry band of ruffians. There’s a definition about ‘Yardie’ from Urban Dictionary that I particularly loved, ‘Usually violent and easily lured into losing their monies through misadventure.’ In a strange way this sums up a theme that has run through all 15 years of my Kapital photography. On the one hand we have created this world of happy go lucky travelers, but in the shadows, we have often included references to more nefarious behavior. Kiro and I both love the idea of wandering hooligans, it just so happens that our gang of trouble makers are fully decked out in some of the most unique and sought after fashion designs on the planet. Its with great pride that once again, I can document and share their misadventures.” - Eric.

“Yardie Blues” photographs by Eric Kvatek

Kapital’s S/S 2019 line shot in Jamaica

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