Igdaliah

St. John designer Igdaliah Pickering is busy at work on her clothing line.

Getting temporarily laid off because of the coronavirus inspired Igdaliah Pickering to move forward on her own fashion line.

So, at the age of 22, Pickering will launch her Original CaribBaby collection on her website, Igdalyah.com, this week.

Pickering, from St. John, graduated from St. Peter and Paul Catholic School in 2015. She went on to study fashion design and textile design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. After graduating in 2019, she landed a job at Levi Strauss & Co. in February as a tailor, just before the coronavirus pandemic overwhelmed the country.

Pickering always knew she wanted to start a collection. (The difference between the spelling of her name and her company, she says, is because her father insists her name was originally supposed to be spelled with a ‘y.”).

Laid off, Pickering decided it was the perfect opportunity to start her brand in earnest.

Her first collection, designed in her senior year in college, is not for sale, but will be on the website for viewing when it launches Tuesday. That collection was inspired by the hurricanes of 2017, with a focus on denim and other practical fabrics such as those that are waterproof and fabrics that don’t rip or tear easily that could possibly be reused after a hurricane. Called “Dear Irmaria,” the collection was featured in her school’s annual fashion show and in an issue of British Vogue.

“It was a line about hurricanes Irma and Maria and everything that happened back home, and also creating awareness about that and how we weren’t really broadcast enough in the news,” Pickering said.

“I like to bring what people need to know into fashion because everybody has their eye on fashion. That’s what I’m about as a designer, taking all of these things that people should be talking about and putting them somewhere where the eye is already going towards. A lot of my inspiration and concepts come from things that are actively happening in the world right now.”

The new Original CaribBaby collection of T-shirts, a bathing suit, baby onesies and toddler shirts, was inspired by the works of two St. John photographers present during the V.I. Black Lives Matter protests, Kayden Richards and Savanah Willow, and is dedicated to Caribbean natives.

“I am working on my Spring 2021 collection launch for my brand IGDALYAH,” Pickering said. “To raise funds for production, I am releasing a small collection of T-shirts that combat negative colonialism and gentrification in the islands, not only in the V.I., but in the whole Caribbean and black communities worldwide. The BLM movement on the mainland and in the V.I. has definitely played a part in my inspiration.”

Pickering has collaborated with the St. John Heritage Collective, whose mission is to preserve history, identity and culture. Twenty percent of the Original CaribBaby proceeds will be donated directly to the nonprofit.

T-shirts, onesies and toddler shirts will range from $23 to $32, and the swimsuit will sell for $42. They will be available in a range of colors, from extra small to 3X.

For more information, visit Igdalyah.com.