For the second consecutive year, there will be no Fashion Week Trinidad and Tobago. The recent rumours about the uncertainty of staging of this year’s event were confirmed by FWTT chairman Anthony Rahael. In a brief telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, Rahael said FWTT, which was due to be held from October 24 to 28, had run out of time in the planning stages without definite decisions being made. “We also found out that the Dominican Republic Fashion Week which is bigger than ours was happening at the same time in October and for us to have it later would not have been practical,” said Rahael.
Asked about Government funding for the event, Rahael said the Planning Ministry had issued a letter committing to funding the event but added that “funding had been rescinded”.
In a T&T Guardian interview in June, Rahael said Fashion Week 2011 was not held because of insufficient funding and mentioned that even with funding this year’s event will not happen. Rahael said several other issues such as “the absence of a manufacturing and production sector” had also led to the decision not to move ahead with Fashion Week 2012. Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie was not aware that the event had been cancelled and denied pulling funding. “We committed ourselves to funding on the basis that the fashion community would be united in its purpose as to what it would be and how and it would be and what was to be achieved,” said Minister Tewarie. “Government was not interested in a fashion show, we were interested in something that could help us to build the basics for development of a fashion industry.” Tewarie said the Ministry was not satisfied that it was feasible to do the type of event they had hoped for in 2012. He pointed to the delay in coming up with a proposal, the level of organisation and time frame involved and the differences of opinion within the fashion industry.
Asked whether FWTT had apprised the Ministry of the problems in reaching an agreement among stakeholders, Tewarie said he had his own uncertainties about the unity of the fashion industry behind a proposal sent by Rahael. “I called a meeting of stakeholders at which it was agreed that they would come back with another proposal. They have not come back with one yet,” Tewarie said. “We left the door open for agreements to be reached within the fashion industry so that they could come to us with a modest proposal focused on local and regional markets for 2012 and we would do something more substantial in 2013,” Tewarie concluded. Fashion designer Peter Elias said he was disappointed to hear that Fashion Week was to be cancelled this year, although he admitted that the news came as a surprise to him. “I’m working feverishly on my new resort collection and I’m aware the Ministry of Planning was going to assist in this venture. “Events like these require precise budgeting, detailed preparations and many links to enable the investment to be fruitful for all involved,” Elias said.
The cancellation of FWTT 2012 will also mean the five University of Trinidad and Tobago graduates promised opportunities to show lines at the event will be denied the potential exposure. When local designer Anya Ayoung-Chee won the American design competition Project Runway last October, it was hoped that this would stimulate progress in the fashion industry, especially after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar pledged her support for the industry.