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Fashion brings in $25m a year—PM
The future of fashion in T&T is bright, says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Speaking at Sunday’s Masquerade gala, produced by the new special-purpose state enterprise, CreativeTT, she said fashion, which is one of the Government’s seven development pillars to diversify the economy away from energy was close to becoming a reality.
Addressing a gathering that included staff from Vogue Italia magazine, the Prime Minister said the hosting of the event came against a backdrop of a challenging past for the local textile and design sector. She said: “Today, the fashion industry employs more than 11,000 persons, either directly or indirectly and generates in excess of $25 million annually (US$4 million).
“Our nation’s capital, Port-of-Spain, is being positioned as a fashion district and the fashion capital of the Caribbean with a thriving retail district and the only cloth district in the region, which spans numerous locations between Frederick and Charlotte Streets.
“Our fashion industry is becoming increasingly diverse with linkages to sectors, such as beauty, cosmetics and perfume manufacturing, model management, fashion and image consulting, retail fashion photography, beauty culture and event management.
“The cross-sector linkages are also growing and strengthening between the local fashion industry and the entertainment and tourism industry.”
She said the undertaking was evidence that previous conversations with stakeholders had shaped policies for a well-constituted sector by the People’s Partnership Government. The Prime Minister was optimistic that the sector still had tremendous potential and having local work featured in the 2014 spring/summer issue of Vogue Italia this May would present an excellent platform.
Persad-Bissesar said she understood the need for the fashion industry and the wider creative sector to become engaged for both growth and expansion. Therefore, she added, Government’s approach was not only to engage stakeholders but also carve a very clear path for the success of the sector. She said: “We have significant evidence that points to you becoming an increasingly strong partner in how our economy will be sustained in the years to come.
“This means that you are more than fashionably important. My Government believes that you are in fact one of the key sectors that will help to shift our economy onto a more diversified and prosperous future economic system.”
Turning to the benefits of a focused system of education, Persad-Bissessar said her administration’s decision to remodel studies for those pursuing a first degree at the University of T&T (UTT) was deliberate. Initially, she said, the fashion programme at UTT focused only on training but Government felt it was important to transform the programme to include entrepreneurship and exposure for student designers.
Today, she added, fashion at UTT not only capitalised on raw talent but also facilitated the continuous emergence of new talent by exposure to the global sector and contact with the leading fashion authorities, while acting as an incubator to bring students into contact with resources and equipment to build their dreams. Sunday’s gala was held Under the Trees at the Normandie Hotel, St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain.