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Lush Kingdom


I was first introduced to James Hackett through my boyfriend – a fan of his artwork. So when I heard that James Hackett was entering the ‘world’ of fashion I was intrigued, to say the least. I knew him primarily as a digital artist, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I, of course, didn’t know at the time that James had completed his degree in Fashion Design from the UTT, and was going on to become a lecturer there as well.

On his Facebook page the other day, he penned a beautiful glimpse into his own life as a creative spirit.

‘Art gave me a chance to attempt to put this to paper, I loved watercolours, I loved colour period. It was bursting out of everything I have seen and my mind is constantly playing catch up to all that I imagine. And now fashion. Fashion is like the tip of the spear that is pointing and bringing all these experiences together. I could not name the brand after myself. This is something bigger than I am. This is our Lush Kingdom.’

Now it’s all much clearer, and having seen his Lush Kingdom come to life, as well as continue to grow and evolve, I can say with some certainty, and pride, that I feel James will become a permanent fixture in the fashion landscape of T&T.

He debuted his collection to mixed reviews at Tobago Fashion weekend last year, some of which, he admits, really affected him. But since then he’s learned to take criticism not only sometimes with a pinch of salt, but, when appropriate, with an open mind that allows him to see which critiques can actually help to mold his creative process and influence the direction his brand and collection takes.


Lush Kingdom, as described by the designer, ‘tells the story of an exiled warrior princess who finds herself washed ashore on a tropical paradise. She embarks on a journey of self-discovery and renewal by embracing this new tropical kingdom as her home. She defies the social and political confines of the land to become a friend of the people, their champion, and eventually their Queen‘. James signs off the Lush Kingdom story with an inspiring note, ‘The Warrior Queen’s Story was inspired by the diversity and vibrancy of natural Caribbean environments. We are living in a Lush Kingdom. We should never lose sight of that‘.

My personal assessment (not that I would ever purport to be a fashion critic) is that James has created a collection for a character so well-defined and so strong that sometimes, yes, it can be polarizing. I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative though. People are multi-faceted…but very often we try to pigeon hole ourselves into being one thing, or one type. We are not one type. We are a multitude of personas and characters…layered over each other to create a complex, convoluted mess (hello!) of a human being. Lush Kingdom is like that – while very defined in character, there are so many elements – crop tops and vests, shorts and trousers, jackets and hoodies – that it would be nearly impossible, I think, not to find a piece that speaks to the Lush Kingdom girl in you. At the moment, the textiles used are primarily the print he designed himself – which is available in both a cotton and a silk – broderie anglaise and floral patterned lace. Because of the fabric choices, the collection, to me, feels young, and bright, and joyful (meanwhile, I feel old and dark and very sleepy most of the time). It’s also significant to note that the Lush Kingdom pieces are all very well made.

James is a magnificent story teller, bolstered no doubt by his innate ability to communicate through art. When you listen to him explain Lush Kingdom, it’s impossible not to be transported to the fringes of his world…to see and feel where his art comes from and why it’s so important to him. We exist in a space where very often the story is lost for the marketability. We become so concerned with selling that we forget to keep the story in mind. It heartens me that the Lush Kingdom story is still unfolding.

Lush Kingdom is available at Meiling‘s Pop Up Shop at #6 Carlos, Woodbrook for the next few weeks.

You can find more on Lush Kingdom at the Facebook page.

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