For the past two years, the African print material has been trending in the fashion industry. From Bomber Jackets, African Print Shirts, Wedding gentlemen’s shirts suits, patched, African dresses, Laptop bags among many other styles.
The trend is not only in Africa but being witnessed in America with designers who include Raymond Vincent Brown (RV) the founder of Ray Vincente label. His been creating his designs using latest African prints such as Kente, Ankara, Ndebele, Angola Print etc.
Ray Vincente informs My Afrika Magazine (Tapiwa Rubaya) the inspiration behind the use of African prints by his brand, Ray Vincent Label.
TR: When did your journey in the fashion industry began?
RV: Around the mid 1980s originally as a womenswear designer. Switched to menswear in 2009. The line retains the “Ray Vincente” label.
TR: You work is always linked with the African continent, why do you always create collections that are linked to African roots?
RV: That came about as an exploration of my heritage. I have a mixed heritage of West African (Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana) and European (Scottish).
Until some years ago I did not have much knowledge of my African heritage so, upon researching, I found out my ancestry.
It opened up a whole new world for me and in turn influenced my design work.
TR: Looking at some of your previous and current collections the material that you use, they go with time, do you import your material from Africa?
RV: Fortunately, I have suppliers right here in the US that are from Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria.
I source the materials through them. I like the motifs, patterns, and colors as well as the fabrics themselves to be authentic and to tell a story. Quite of the story told influences the collection for a season. Regularly my suppliers give me the background on the fabrics.
TR: Your latest collection the ‘Re-Awakening ‘, what inspired the name of the collection?
RV: That is a collection about reflecting on the climate of 2020; specifically, the pandemic and the way it connected all of us throughout the world and also how it affects the psyche. It is a historic, impactful time yet also a time where our spirits need to be reawakened to life and the precious nature of it.
The colors represented the sky, the earth, and water, all elements of life and the refreshment of life.
TR: Models are one of the important, people in the fashion industry. How do you select them to become your brand ambassador?
RV: There are the business side elements which are sizing, look, and talent but then there is also the element of personality! I look for confidence and true spirit of royalty displayed in how one carries themselves.
TR: The world is battling its biggest war since World war 2 and it has affected the fashion industry how are you able to reach your customers in Africa in a such environment?
RV: My line is mainly an online marketing, so I am able to reach many customers in multiple countries via online media.
TR: What type of response do you get most of the time from your customers and follows in Africa?
RV: Initially surprised! Lol.
This new line, Ray Vincente Heritage, which began in 2017 evolved sort of organically out of my search for my ancestry.
The first showing was not even planned but was as a favor to a friend of mine in the industry who is a producer.
He had lost one of his designers for a show and called me at the last minute to fill in. I was on a bit of a sabbatical during which time I developed this line and told him I could show it. The reception the night of the show was beyond my imagination. Post showing, several people visiting from Ghana came backstage to meet me. I was a bit nervous when I found out where they were from as to how they would view my collection. They were so complimentary! One noted how I captured the soul of African royalty and stated how he appreciated how I was celebrating the continent in my work. It brought a tear to my eye.
That has been the type of reception I have received and am thankful for it.
TR: Lastly you will be showcasing at Atlantic City Fashion Week, why is the event important to you ….
RV: This was actually a request from two of my industry friends who are show producers. In 2020 I moved from showing via fashion shows to more the creation of fashion videos for my line.
It allows me more creative control. However, showing in front of a live audience is an immediate assessment of the collection being shown so I will never leave the runway permanently. Therefore, I do shows such as ACFW and a few others. The line coming in Feb 2021 is entitled “Royal Comfort” and the venue there is a compliment to that collection.
Ray Brown, the designer of Ray Vincente, has been designing since 1983 as a freelance designer for public and private individuals. He has a degree in Fashion Merchandising from ICS of PA, and has completed course work in fashion design, illustration, and production at FIT of NYC, NY. In February of 2009 he launched his own collection for menswear, Ray Vincente Eclectic! Label, now simply known as Ray Vincente. Ray Vincente Menswear, is for the adult male that likes to be stylish, individualistic, and comfortable and is influenced by Eastern, European and American Urban cultures.
Ray Vincente is a sportswear line of hi-fashion separates. It is designed to be incorporated into your existing wardrobe to add additional style and versatility. The designs are perfect for kicking a wardrobe into gear. We pride ourselves on ‘fashion innovation’ for menswear and always seek to raise the bar.
In Sept 2017, Ray Brown is launching Ray Vincente Heritage, a special line of menswear, celebrating his West African Heritage!
Ray Brown currently serves as the Vice President of NY Men’s Fashion week, Fashion editor of Fashion Ave News magazine (NY) and Fashion Coordinator or Black Expo America.