By Jon Langford
Cedella Marley is a busy woman. She’s a singer, an actress, an author, an entrepreneur, a fashion designer and a philanthropist, not to mention being the doting mother of three.
Most recently she has become the Global Ambassador for the Reggae Girlz (Jamaica’s national women’s football team), founded the One Love Gardens initiative and has designed a range of football inspired clothing in tribute to her late father’s love of the beautiful game.
First Touch caught up with Cedella (and siblings Rohan and Karen) at Miss Lily’s Jamaican restaurant in the heart of New York City during the release party for her new collection.
FT: Your father was a musical hero to millions; who were his footballing heroes?
Karen: Pelé was one.
Rohan: He was a big fan of Johan Cruyff too. Also, the great Jamaican player Alan ‘Skill’ Cole was another of his favorites.
FT: Did he have a favorite team?
Cedella: Yes. Daddy loved Manchester United.
FT: Bob always looked very stylish when he was on the field. But how good of a player was he? I’ve read conflicting accounts.
Karen: I’m pretty sure he was amazing. I know he took it seriously.
Rohan: Pretty good, just like Ziggy. Good enough to play on a professional team for sure.
Cedella: Back home all the Marley boys played on their high school teams so they’re all pretty good.
FT: What position did Bob like to play?
Rohan: Midfield or forward.
FT: Would you agree that both football and music have a unique power to unite people? Perhaps more so than any two other things…
Karen: Definitely. Music and football are global languages. You can go anywhere in the world and people play football and they play music.
Rohan: Football is built from rhythm and that’s why Brazilian football is so wonderful, because it all comes from rhythm. It’s all about tempo. When you control the tempo of a game, you control everything.
FT: Cedella, can you tell us a little bit about your role as the Global Ambassador for the Reggae Girlz and what you’re trying to achieve?
Cedella: Like daddy always said, ‘football is freedom’ and everyone should have the right to play, whatever their gender. My role as ambassador has enlightened me as to how severely underfunded women’s football is, not only in Jamaica but in other countries too. This is something that our family is going to try and change. The Reggae Girlz are a really strong team – they’re ranked number four in their division – and if they had the proper resources they could be the first Caribbean country to represent on a World Cup level. In the U.S., both the men’s and the women’s teams have equal funding, but that’s not happening in our country. So we want to bring awareness to women’s football, not only in Jamaica, but all over the world.
Cedella: I wouldn’t say I play football, but football plays me sometimes. [Laughs.]
FT: Let’s talk about the collection: What inspired you to create it?
Cedella: The man himself! Daddy was a big football fan and he had a genuine love for the game. With the World Cup happening, it just made sense to design a football capsule.
FT: Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
Cedella: It’s hard to choose just one because they all represent daddy. We also have five countries that are at the World Cup being represented. Ethiopia didn’t make it through, but we still had to represent them because it was very important to daddy.
FT: The materials used in the range are very eco-friendly. Is this something you feel strongly about?
Cedella: Absolutely. That’s our footprint. We do that with all of our brands.
Cedella: And it just so happens that the eco-friendly materials make the shirts feel so good on your body.
FT: What were the biggest challenges you faced when you were designing the collection?
Cedella: Just the fit, really. Fit was very important to me because daddy always loved his clothes to be a slim-fit and I wanted to capture that.
Karen: But also we want people who aren’t the same body-type as dad to be able to wear the clothes too.
Cedella: But we’re hoping that if they don’t fit you, you’ll get in the gym and make them fit! [Laughs.]
FT: Would you define the collection as fashion or sportswear or both?
Karen: I think it’s both.
Rohan: I would say it’s lifestyle clothing, you know?
FT: Do you feel as though the line between sportswear and fashion has become blurred in recent years?
Cedella: Definitely. And I will continue to blur it.
FT: And if they buy a piece they’ll be donating money to worthy causes too, right?
Cedella: Yes. We’ve just launched the One Love Gardens initiative in Jamaica. It’s a great program that gives people the opportunity to grow their own food. You know, our father loved to farm: Farming, football and music were his three passions in life. This is the first step in helping people to build sustainable, eco-friendly farms, which will allow them to be self-sufficient. Our philosophy is based on the old “Give a man a fish…” proverb.
FT: This isn’t the first time you’ve designed sporting apparel is it?
Cedella: No, I did the Jamaican 2012 Olympic uniforms too.
Cedella: It was awesome. It’s always an honor to be a part of what your country’s doing and to see the world embrace it.
Karen: And embrace it they did. It looked so good.
Cedella: It felt so good too.
FT: Finally, Jamaica didn’t make it to the World Cup this time around, so who will you guys be rooting for?
Rohan: I’m rooting for Brazil.
Cedella: I’m rooting for Ghana.
Karen: Ghana or Brazil.