Self-expression is at the heart of Raquel Leid’s designs.
BROWSING GRENADIAN FASHION designer Raquel Leid’s Mt. Sealey Garden collection is like taking a Caribbean vacation. The sunshine yellows, turquoise blues, and emerald greens of her fruit- and flower-motif fabrics reflect the hues of the islands. And the styles, which float away from the body and flow in the breeze, are perfect for Caribbean climes. Striking A-line dresses, dramatic palazzo pants, and cute cropped tops look like the work of an expert and experienced designer. And they are. But they’re also the creation of a designer who’s self-taught, makes each piece herself, and unashamedly admits that she learned almost everything she knows from YouTube sewing tutorials!
We caught up with the teacher-turneddesigner behind the Always Leid brand for her take on island style.
Stitching It Together
I grew up in the parish of St. Andrew, Grenada, and was always obsessed with fashion. I started sketching when I was six and dabbled in DIY projects in my teens. In 2013, I was accepted into fashion school, but couldn’t go because of financial restrictions. But I didn’t let that deter me. I bought a sewing machine and began watching tutorials on YouTube. At the end of 2013, I did my first fashion showcase, featuring pieces made from unconventional materials such as woven nylon from bags used to package chicken feed. And I haven’t looked back since!
I was a teacher for more than six years and although I liked it, I was torn because I wasn’t giving my brand, Always Leid, everything I could. Juggling the two just became too demanding, and in 2017 I chose Always Leid. But teaching taught me organizational skills and to be patient and resilient — skills I use everyday in my work as a designer.
I love vibrant colors and bold prints; vintage fabrics and silhouettes; and pop culture. I try to combine these influences with my experiences growing up West Indian to create something that’s unique and aesthetically pleasing. Because I’m self-taught my production range is limited, so I do a lot of prototypes on muslin to ensure that I get the effect that fits in with my vision (I’m a bit of a perfectionist). My current collection, Mt. Sealey Garden, is inspired by my beloved late grandfather’s garden.
Clothes As Art
The Always Leid Girl/ Woman is quirky, bold, and stylish. She believes that fashion is an art form and treats her clothes like wearable art. Her clothes speak volumes about her personality and make a statement when she enters the room.
Working in the Caribbean can be frustrating, dealing with limited resources and high production costs and shipping rates. But I love the feeling I get when people try on one of my pieces and their faces just light up. Moving forward, I want Always Leid to be known for individuality, creativity, and fearless selfexpression. I’m currently in the early stages of creating my next collection, and I’ve launched an online vintage clothing boutique, Qurated by Quelle (pronounced “Curated by Kell”). I continue to build my styling portfolio, and I’m hoping to branch into menswear.
Browse ( and buy!) Raquel Leid’s current collection at alwaysleid.com or brighten your Instagram feed by following her @alwayseleid and @quratedbyquelle