In an age where everything is a copy of a copy of a copy, achieving originality in fashion can seem like an impossible task. But Caffery Van Horne makes it look easy. That’s why we chose to highlight the Toronto-based designer in the latest episode of Hidden Gems, Complex Canada’s series—brought to you in collaboration with Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum and Fela—where we uncover Jamaican-Canadian excellence. Already a decorated photographer and stylist, Van Horne has made noise lately as a fashion designer. His eponymous luxury apparel line has garnered international attention—it’s been praised by publications like Vogue Italia and rocked by stars like dancehall sensation Shenseea.
“Nothing is new; everything’s been done before,” says Van Horne. “So when I approach anything, I look for an innovative angle for me to put my own personal spin on things.”
Caffery draws much of his inspiration from his early life in the Waltham Park neighbourhood of Kingston, Jamaica—particularly the females he grew up around. He credits Jamaican women, particularly his mother, as the muse for this latest collection, La Rosa Negra. “I think my neighbourhood had the most dancehall facilities and churches in any part of Jamaica,” he says. “So, you get a unique blend of people in that area—the women going to church on a Sunday in their elaborate outfits, and the women going to parties at night in their skimpy outfits. Somewhere in the middle you get the entire cross-section of that Jamaican woman. I always have a huge Rolodex of images in my mind of what these women were like.”
In this episode, Van Horne links up with our host Joy Spence, Appleton Estate’s Master Blender and an inspirational Jamaican woman herself. Like Van Horne, Spence has found success via innovation, immaculate craftsmanship, and drawing inspiration from her culture. The two converse over some glasses of Appleton Estate’s 21 Year Old Nassau Valley Casks—a luxury rum befitting of a man who owns a luxury line. They connect on innovation and their shared experience of growing up in Waltham Park.
“When I think about Jamaica, my experience there, and the images that stayed with me, they’re consistent with who I am,” says Van Horne. “I am the product of that woman— she’s my mother, she’s my sister, she’s my aunt, she’s my grandmother. I see them all in my work. No matter what country I live in, I take my Jamaican woman with me. And I don’t just take her with me, I celebrate her.”