Our Fashion Spotlight hit the Caribbean heavily in the second print issue. In this insert, we meet Rhaj Paul, a Barbadian native who is making waves with his downright rebellious stance on fashion and life!
Where’d that name come from bro?
Rhaj Paul is the conjunction of my taken (not given) name Rhaj (whose meaning is “pilgrimage to autonomy”) and my given second name Paul (which I suspect is the Biblical character that transformed from the tyrannical Saul to the apostle Paul, if you know that story – my parents were quite religious).
Where are you from and what’s your thing?
I was born in Barbados, (shout out to King Dyal, Ras Akyem and Rihanna!) and my work is in men’s streetwear – particularly denim and design. I do some branding, fashion styling, graphic tee design and the occasional beard modelling. All in all though I am a glorified tailor and artist at heart, happily so.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
Perhaps it was when I was twelve or thirteen years old that I attempted to taper my church pants to what we called “close bottoms” so I could reflect the trend, but I wasn’t even thinking you know “designer designer” as much as “I wonder if I could make some dope shit with this sewing machine thing here?” But the pursuit into tailoring allowed me to directly alter, then design, so I could craft original shit and stunt on my church folks! hahaha. Just joking, but honestly fam “church swag’ was a thing and it did help me to develop my aesthetic sense and push against boundaries. I think it was around 2000 though that I decided yeh this shit is it.
4. Have you ever taken formal training in the craft?
No formal training.
Follow up – Do you advocate being trained formally or do you subscribe to the thinking that ‘getting your hands dirty’ is the only true way to succeed in this creative space?
Do whatever. Observe that different ways work for different people. I think you ought to try things, figure out your speed, and kill your lane.