COLOUR POWER: “Bold prints, bold patterns. The customers love them,” says Clarke (at top), sporting the Rock-Me-Baby afrokini.
FASHION designer Gabrielle S. Clarke credits much of her success to her grandmother’s influence. “She raised me in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for a few years, and I’d say it was a really life-changing experience,” she dishes to TALLAWAH.
So much so that she got introduced to some Afro-Caribbean traditions and customs that instilled in her a deep appreciation for all things that hail from the Motherland. Fashion included. Clarke quickly fell in love with African fashion and has decided to make a career out of it. Why not? A trip to the Ping’s fabric store, where she was wowed by the gorgeous prints and bold, vivid colours sealed the deal. “The fabrics spoke to me,” she recalls.
By 2015, she was fully immersed, drawing on all her seamstress lessons to create sartorial works of art. Introducing Quaint by GSC, branded as an afrowear line using kente and other eye-catching patterns to create impressive, wearable garments.
Clarke’s growing clientele thinks so too. “The response has been great, a bit overwhelming at times. I’ve had a lot of overseas customers – buyers from France, Belgium, Italy, New York, Florida, who order on the website (quaintbygsc.com),” says the 23-year-old designer, who has now widened her creative output (from clothing – skirts and tops and beachwear) to include purses and bags and other chic accessories.
What’s her aesthetic? “As my slogan says, I love to create unusual pieces. Anything that’s unusually interesting, I’ll go for it. Bold prints, bold patterns. The customers love them,” she explains, standing by her booth at the Bob Marley Museum, on the occasion of Marley’s 74th anniversary birthday celebrations.
After graduating from Alpha Academy, Clarke went on to UWI Mona but only completed two years of study before dropping out due to financial constraints. The setback, she says now, has been a blessing in disguise, affording her that push to start her own business and build her brand.
Looking ahead, the Kingston native is taking Quaint by GSC to the world. “I want to have stores in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and hopefully Florida and California,” she says. “I pretty much want to establish the brand so that everybody can have access to the pieces.”
Her advice for other up-and-coming designers is simple: Plan and execute. “Believe in yourself. Love what you do. Have a good plan and put in the work,” she says. “And if you’re really passionate about it, just do it.”
>> Keep up with Clarke on Instagram @quaintafrowear!