Fashions of Fletcher's LandSunday, October 17, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
WHILE a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, Dominique Donaldson wanted her future work as a designer to reflect her Jamaican heritage.
Born in New York, the 24-year-old launched the Le Karja Inc line in May 2020. It is inspired by her roots in the rugged Kingston communities of Dunkirk and Fletchers Land.
“Le Karja is a streetwear brand that takes direct influence from my life. The name of the brand is inspired by my mother, her name is Karja. Her long-time love for fashion and art is what led me down the path I am on today — she was also enrolled in FIT as an international student from Jamaica,” Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer.
Describing her designs as “bold, headstrong, and beautiful just like my customers”, Le Karja's fledgling line includes T-shirts, hoodies, slacks and swimwear. They are sold mainly through social media.
Donaldson, who earned a master's degree in fashion and design from FIT, wants to reach an urban demographic similar to Fubu and Sean John in the 1990s. Those products became mega brands after being embraced by the hip hop nation.
Part of Donaldson's strategy to attract the dancehall nation is to get some of contemporary reggae's biggest acts wearing Le Karja.
On a personal level, she wants fans to get an opportunity to know her story.
“Since I am first generation, US-born, my family still has strong ties to Jamaica [which] exposes me to my culture every day. My family comes from Fletchers Land near the National Heroes' Park, and every time we go back it amazes me to see how well known my grandmother and her siblings are — 'The Well-cute Family,'” said Donaldson. “I would hear all the stories about my great-grandma and all of her children; how she would feed and welcome the whole community into her home, whether it's good times or bad times. My clothing brand takes inspiration from all of this, all of the ups and downs and experiences of being a Jamaican in America.”