Lamin Jaiteh, a New York-based designer is continuing a lineage passed down to him from his father. Each garment he creates is heavily influenced by his Gambian roots, he can trace his origins to the Mandinka tribe in Gambia, West Africa. There is a level of intimacy captured in the items he creates too, this is largely due to his father teaching him to sew while he attended college in Staten Island. His love for design picked up around this stage of his life, it led him to establish his brand Rey Jaiteh in 2018. While in school Jaiteh proudly wore his creations.
After joining the workforce following graduation in 2021, the 26-year-old designer has continued wearing his pieces at his corporate job. He tells me he believes he had to find a way to inject his personal style into business casual. This was his way of cultivating a spirit of whimsy and creativity. His newest collection “Exhibit 1: Experiment” is reflective of these notions and it features structured suiting inspired by elegant and handmade garments that he feels could be seen in museum exhibitions across the globe. This assortment of clothing consists of business-casual looks that are elevated to be worn to events like black-tie functions, art shows, and beyond.
The brand’s pieces like a vinyl leather trench coat and wool coat are classic staples. While the linen blazer and matching trousers, in addition to the brocade blazer offer more playful takes on suiting. The brocade blazer comes in a striking green velour fabric with exaggerated shoulders, showcasing Jaiteh’s flare for drama in his work. One standout the designer loves, in particular, is from his last collection entitled “Rey22.” Look number 10 is comprised of pieces that he distinctly poured his all into. This marks the first time he created a suit and he took joy in tweaking it until it was perfect. “I added a flair and I think that was an incredible twist to a modern outfit,” he notes.
As Jaiteh envisions his brand’s future, he draws inspiration from iconic fashion houses like Gucci and Balenciaga, not in the realm of aesthetics but in matters of the legacy they built and their longstanding influence. “I want my brand to be like Gucci or Balenciaga because I feel like they’ve been around for about 100 years now or even more,” the designer declares. “I think if you really look at the fashion industry, I don’t think you will find a Black-owned brand that has been around for even more than 20 years. I want to make sure that I leave that legacy.”