Women’s History Month: Exclusive Ampwata Souvenir & Surf Capsule for Complex SHOP

Women’s History Month: Exclusive Ampwata Souvenir & Surf Capsule for Complex SHOP

More than anything, Ampwata is Jasmine Plantin’s love letter to the African diaspora. The brand, inspired largely by her heritage as the daughter of a Haitian father and a Creole mother, offers a one-of-a-kind experience for those who follow it. Her small drops of hand-dyed tees are supplemented with information on a myriad of Plantin’s inspirations, from her heritage, to Haitian literature, and now for Complex SHOP, the ocean and those who are protecting it. 

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Plantin created three t-shirts, exclusive to the Complex SHOP, that reinforce Ampwata’s mission to highlight Black-Atlantic identities, and the water culture that influences it.    

The Ampwata Souvenir Shirt

The Ampwata Souvenir t-shirt is an ode to the countless mass-produced screen printed tees that end up in every tourist’s luggage after an island vacation in the Carribean. The design follows the almost formulaic layout souvenir tees have always had: vibrant, “tropical” colors, a lone palm tree, and a well-known greeting from the island in question. Plantin’s run of these tees is all about rejuvenating the washed out designs, and giving them a second life. 

“My whole kind of idea behind that was taking the souvenir tees and then reprinting them and then just kind veneering it and giving it something new, so that we're taking them outside of these island places,” Plantain says. “It's like, well, is there a way to give even those garments a second life? Because at the end of the day, that's still being made by somebody, right?”

Inspired by Tidalectics, a term coined by Bajan poet Kamau Brathwaite, Plantin explores the cyclical relationship between colonized countries and their mentropoles through the souvenir shirt. “In my work, I've integrated vintage souvenir tees from various tropical countries and embellished them with my own print,” she says. “I encourage the wearer to enjoy the garment, consider its history and eventually add their own to the piece as I have mine.”

The Ampwata WPLC Shirt

Plantin’s admiration for the ocean led her to Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) and Laru Beya, two organizations working in different ways to protect the world’s most endangered resource, water. Birthed from the NoDAPL movement in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline,  WPLC serves as pro bono legal support for Indigenous water activists, and offers legal education and skill development for Indigenous people. Laru Beya— which translates to “on the beach” in the language of the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna people— is a non-profit organization in Far Rockaway, New York formed to provide water education and access to BIPOC youth. 

This tee, which resembles a professional surfer’s sponsor shirt, pays homage to the two collectives while giving Plantin a new means of educating those who wear her designs. Each neon green motif is a vehicle of information, which includes logos from both WPLC and Laru Beya. 

“The t-shirt was approached in the same way that I have my other work, as a record of learning,” says Plantin. “It touches on different elements of each collective's work that I would like to learn more about or engage with. It's been produced in a limited run as a note to self that not only is the technique being used as a new exploration but the information included as well.”

The Ampwata Tie-Dye Shirt

Although the dye pattern of this tee follows the same process of her past shirts, the color palette is markedly different from the vibrant spaces Plantin usually explores through Ampwata. With a tan base, she uses a mixture of Navy and Black to mimic the darker, snow-ridden beaches of New York during the winter. The shirt is a salute to the cold, stormy weather of the Northeast—  a stark difference from the relationship between the African diaspora and water culture that has influenced her previous designs. 

“It's crazy because it's like, you don't even think about beaches in New York during the winter,” says Plantin. “The water is completely different, but the relationship between the water and the sky, especially with snow on the beach, it's like you're just experiencing a totally different environment. ”

Shop Ampwata and the entire Women’s History Month collection here