Culture | People | Trinidad and Tobago | United States Ashley Christmas: designer with down-to earth dreams Ashley Christmas knows where he belongs, and he wants everyone else to feel the same way – thanks to his new line of leisure wear By Helen Shair-Singh | Issue 96 (March/April 2009) 0 Comments Courtesy Earthmember4lifeTeddy at the Earthmember4life launch in NYC wearing a cotton tee from the spring/summer 2009 line. Photograph courtesy Earthmember4lifeAshley Christmas. Photograph by Wendy Ann DuncanModels at Colin Williams` Studio in NYC, at an Earthmember4life photo shoot. They are wearing cotton cap-sleeved tees. Photograph courtesy Earthmember4life Every story, including your own life, has a beginning, a middle and an end. Some of us don’t always know which phase we’re in while we’re living it. Some people, however, know exactly where they are, right now. They’ve understood their beginning, used it to propel themselves forward, and already know exactly where they want to go from there. Ashley Christmas is one of these blessed few, who’s living the middle of his story right now. And he’s so sure of his raison d’etre that he’s named his new line of leisure wear after it: earthmember4life. Christmas was born in Tobago, and raised in a family of women, headed by his grandmother. He left Tobago at 18, already sure that small-island life couldn’t sustain the size of his dreams. Even in the USA, it took years, and many different jobs in between, until finally, at 38, he brought to fruition the earthmember4life line of clothing. Asked how the name “earthmember4life” came about, Christmas said it arose from one of those moments when you feel a rush of gratitude for life and an intense desire to live as best and as fully as you can. He says he was at a party at the Zen nightclub in Trinidad at the time and the phrase popped straight into his head… signifying that he was an Earth member for life, and he wanted all the benefits of being in this place, at this time. So, when the dream was becoming a reality, there was just no other name that fitted as well. The company itself, in which Christmas is a partner with Kenneth Steimle, was born in 2006. Together, one a tall, dark bachelor, the other a fair-skinned, married father of four (but who looks like a kid himself), they are a living advertisement for their own company. The two describe the line as a “modern fit with a splash of urban in it”. They see it as fashion for the up-and-comers in the Age of Information. Their stated goal is to reach across all racial lines with a message: “We aim to heighten your privilege as an earth member with every piece of our clothing. Wear it. Live it. Love it. None shall be excluded.” The guests at the launch party held in a trendy Fifth Avenue, Manhattan loft last November just couldn’t get enough. The launch itself stayed true to Christmas and Steimle’s ideal of “keeping it real”, rejecting catwalks and neon lights and opting instead for models who moved among the guests, flirting, playing, and enjoying themselves on their way to the podium at each end of the room. The line consists of graphic-decorated tees and denim pieces, and drew favourable comparisons to Abercrombie & Fitch. Christmas already had outlets throughout the Caribbean waiting for their first shipments, so look out for them. The earthmember4life credo: “Earth members are connected by the air we breathe, by the skies we are under, by the generations we impress upon, by the ones we help, by the strength we feel, by the ones we love, by the ones that love us, by the boundaries we cross, by the creeds, by the races, by the believers and non-believers but, as sure as the Earth spins, we are all EarthMembers4Life.” When you wear your own piece of earthmember4life clothing, Christmas would like you to carry the message with you too. Know, he says, that you are joining a select group of life-loving people who are determined to live as fully as possible, crossing whatever senseless, limiting barriers may lie in their way.