“We are naturally fashionable and as a result, we are fashionable by nature,” declares Richard Young, touted the fashion guru on Caribbean’s Next Top Model, in the opening of the short documentary vignette Haute Caribe: The World of Trinidad and Tobago Fashion.
Truer words have never been spoken.
The fashion identity of Trinidad and Tobago has been coming of age since that monumental video release almost a decade ago. Now the country is in store for the first Virtual Trade Mission (VTM) catering exclusively to marketing and exporting local fashion, intending to make an international stamp on the brand identity of Caribbean fashion, spearheaded by brand T&T.
The thrust is led by the Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Company (FashionTT), a subsidiary of the Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company Limited (CreativeTT), under the ambit of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, established quite strategically, on the heels of that riveting exposé on local fashion.
FashionTT’s mandate is to provide structured and extensive capacity-building support in training and export for local fashion industry stakeholders. As a result of a rigorous evaluation through their Value Chain Investment Programme (VCIP), 11 designers have qualified for their Global Value Chain (GVC) tier—Meiling, Claudia Pegus, Heather Jones, Ecliff Elie, Charu Lochan Dass, J’Angelique, Neha Karina, the Hideout Clothing, 1ndividual Aesthetic, Genesis Swimwear and the Cloth.
An immersive and dynamic merchandising campaign will lead up to the VTM, a week of interactive business-to-business and business-to-consumer trade interface with a modern online and onsite component featuring a blend of live and virtual presentations of collections through impactful défilés de mode from September 20 to 24. The hallmark event will commemorate the spirit of sovereignty and independent affirmation, in keeping with the nation’s Republic status, Trinbagonian premier feel-good style, as we position the local fashion industry, with the mantra, ‘ready to take on the world.’
“Feel-good philosophies always applied to our Caribbean aesthetic,” said Young.
All the GVC candidates have embedded in their ethos a sense of conscious fashion, fashion that speaks volumes without saying a word. There is implicit social consumerism in the wearing of fashion, nowadays. Fashion is transforming lives, people want to wear their beliefs. So brands like the 1ndividual Aesthetic and the Cloth who transpose their values onto their fashion statements, fit into the universal paradigm of value-added personal expression.
“Style endures but fashion changes,” as espoused by style matriarch, Coco Chanel, is certainly a maxim that attests to the individualism and personal story capture of modern fashion and its market value. Both these characteristics are conveyed inventively by Kegan Simon of 1ndividual Aesthetic and Robert Young of the Cloth. Simon says he shouts messages from his simple urban styled comfortable fashion coordinates and Robert Young deftly layers anecdotal and historical messaging through his distinctive breathing-textile, feel-good silhouettes.
Island lifestyle reveals that we confront our waters, rivers and oceans with absolute style gusto. And as in the case of swimwear, we consume ourselves with feel-good sensuality which is a blend of comfort and functionality. The secret of great style is to feel good in what you wear and “let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable to others,”says Anna Wintour, Global Chief Content Officer/Artistic Director at Condé Nast.
Our swimwear label, Genesis Swimwear is aware of this secret and revels, as the precursor of sexy island swimwear, aiming to ‘empower and motivate’ and amplify that island-style gusto. This online boutique is indeed cutting-edge and mirrors the evolution and the transition into the e-commerce world to which we must all be attracted.
Richard Young, creative director for the GVC explains that “feel-good fashion is in its element, for we, in Trinidad and Tobago, are primed to share our natural stylistic inclinations with a world hungry for our inherent fashioning. This fashionable-by-nature style spans the gamut of texture and colour, the commentaries of which, complement the feel-good ideal.”
Through this conscious fashion storytelling, advancing positivity and giving-back-to-community, feel-good vibes are given voice and these uplifting values can ignite a brand-identity awareness, in anticipation of the lifting of social restrictions, when a heightened desire for feel-good fashion would be welcomed with open arms. This campaign is in keeping with unearthing secrets that are taken for granted about the beauty of the creative industry of the region.
Lisa-Marie Daniel, general manager of FashionTT, believes that “an all-consuming feel-good vibration can be spearheaded, through our fashion imagers, that would be more than timely in a pandemic climate. It’s transformative, inspiring and relevant!”
“All in all, this campaign believes in creating balance and presumes ambitiously that doing the right thing can be glamorous,” Young reiterates.
“Indeed, fashion can spread notions of empowerment and sustainability—the belief that positivity is needed more today than ever and that solidarity in Caribbean design thinking can impact global style and qualify the capacity of its potential.”
Aisha Stewart, project-lead of the GVC rollout, stresses: “In fact, buying from brands that align with personal values is a trend gaining momentum for the past ten years, worldwide. So it is a truly authentic experience to feel good by wearing local designers while celebrating a buy-local movement that is worth the while.”
In a recent press statement, Daniel also confirms FashionTT’s export agenda “through galvanising the international recognition of the unique selling proposition of Caribbean style, albeit, acknowledging Trinbagonian fashion designers, as leading the pack, we would be prepped and ready to take on the world.”