FashionTT delivers 2nd edition LookBook

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Even in the throes of some un­cer­tain times brought by the pan­dem­ic, Fash­ionTT has de­liv­ered on its promise of a sec­ond Look­Book edi­tion. And un­like the first launched in March, this month’s edi­tion is open to ad­ver­tis­ers.

As Fash­ionTT Gen­er­al Man­ag­er, Lisa-Marie Daniel in­formed Sun­day Guardian last week that the state com­pa­ny’s June edi­tion Look­Book aims to high­light the work of lo­cal de­sign­ers and ar­ti­sans in ful­fil­ment of Fash­ionTT’s man­date to stim­u­late the busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and ex­port ac­tiv­i­ty of the lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try.

“This Look­Book Ini­tia­tive pro­vides a lu­cra­tive plat­form to show­case the rich­ness and beau­ti­ful aes­thet­ic of our lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try to dri­ve lo­cal and in­ter­na­tion­al com­merce in fash­ion,” she said.

FashionTT General Manager, Lisa-Marie Daniel.

FashionTT General Manager, Lisa-Marie Daniel.

Sug­gest­ing that the Look­Book could be a ben­e­fi­cial “mar­ket­ing tool” for de­sign­ers and ar­ti­sans, as well as com­pa­nies who wished to ad­ver­tise since the pub­li­ca­tion was avail­able both dig­i­tal­ly and in print, Daniel said Fash­ionTT was hap­py to have ANSA Bank, Pan-Amer­i­can Life In­sur­ance and SCRIP-J on board.

Well in the works be­fore the pan­dem­ic hit, the sub­sidiary of Cre­ativeTT felt even more com­pelled to launch the Look­Book and “dri­ve the pro­mo­tion of our lo­cal prod­ucts dur­ing this time,” she said.

The cov­er fea­tures a re­cent piece from fash­ion de­sign icon Clau­dia Pe­gus. Ecliff Elie de­signs al­so ap­pear in the pub­li­ca­tion, along­side the of­fer­ings of 29 oth­er cre­atives who fall un­der Fash­ionTT. These have promi­nent clien­te­les in T&T and serve mar­kets abroad.

Tal­ent­ed de­sign­er and il­lus­tra­tor James Hack­ett of The Lush King­dom chimes in on graph­ic work in the im­pres­sive Look­Book which presents cat­e­gories of de­sign span­ning Re­sort, Ready-to-Wear, Lounge and Ath­leisure to Cou­ture, For­mal, Cor­po­rate, Be­spoke and Ac­ces­sories for Men, Women and Chil­dren.

A Claudia Pegus design graces the cover of the second edition of the FashionTT LookBook.

A Claudia Pegus design graces the cover of the second edition of the FashionTT LookBook.

Mes­sages from Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Paula Gopee-Scoon and Prof Mar­garet Bish­op of the New York Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy are al­so fea­tured. Gopee-Scoon ap­plaud­ed fash­ion in­dus­try stake­hold­ers for their “re­silience in adopt­ing and im­ple­ment­ing new dig­i­tal strate­gies for sus­tain­ing and piv­ot­ing (their) en­ter­pris­es,” while Bish­op hailed T&T as hav­ing “great cre­ative and en­tre­pre­neur­ial tal­ent in the fash­ion field.”

As to the re­sponse to the first edi­tion, Daniel said it was well-re­ceived by the pub­lic, with de­sign­ers ben­e­fit­ting from new client re­la­tion­ships.

“The pub­lic loved this ini­tia­tive; the de­sign­ers show­cased, the ease of de­sign­er in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­nat­ed and the en­gag­ing for­mat. It has def­i­nite­ly been an en­light­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for many per­sons on the avail­abil­i­ty of such high qual­i­ty and stun­ning fash­ion prod­ucts lo­cal­ly.”

Fash­ionTT col­lab­o­rates with over 164 lo­cal de­sign­ers, de­vel­op­ing en­ter­prise ca­pac­i­ty, pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion, ex­pand­ing val­ue chain net­works and pen­e­trat­ing glob­al mar­kets for ex­ports. Its ed­u­ca­tion­al and men­tor­ship pro­grammes have helped lo­cal fash­ion com­pa­nies in­crease rev­enues by as much as 135 per cent and pen­e­trate un­tapped mar­kets in places like Oman, Fi­gi, Abu Dhabi and Switzer­land. Fash­ion com­pa­nies un­der its um­brel­la cur­rent­ly ex­port to over 21 coun­tries world­wide.

The Look­Book will be is­sued quar­ter­ly and can be ac­cessed on Fash­ionTT’s web­site at www.fash­iontt.co.tt/look­book. De­sign­ers in­ter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing may email in­[email protected]­iontt.co.tt

An open call for com­pa­nies to par­tic­i­pate will be made two months be­fore the un­veil­ing of each edi­tion.

Loud By Afiya designs captivate with vibrant colours and prints.

Loud By Afiya designs captivate with vibrant colours and prints.

De­sign­ing women

De­spite their vary­ing ap­proach­es and gen­res, Afiya Bish­op of Loud by Afiya, Az­izah Mo­hammed of Az­izah Fash­ion and Own­er and Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of Dé-Col­lette-Té, Na­tal­ie Howe are bound by the use of their cre­ativ­i­ty and in­no­va­tion to el­e­vate the woman through the Caribbean aes­thet­ic. They are three of 31 fash­ion de­sign­ers and ar­ti­sans fea­tured in Fash­ionTT’s Look­Book June edi­tion.

Hav­ing start­ed out in the fash­ion busi­ness at 16, us­ing her moth­er’s cred­it card to shop on­line and have clothes shipped in to sell to her teach­ers and fam­i­ly friends, Bish­op at­tend­ed fash­ion school at UTT and opened her first store at age 21. She has been mak­ing her mark in the fash­ion in­dus­try ever since with her vi­brant and flowy colours and prints.

“A lot of peo­ple didn’t re­al­ly take me se­ri­ous­ly or tried to take ad­van­tage of me be­cause I was so young, but my par­ents and fam­i­ly were al­ways very sup­port­ive of me,” she told Sun­day Guardian.

Team­ing up with good men­tors al­so helped, she said.

As a Mus­lim, Mo­hammed wears her hi­jab proud­ly and sees fash­ion de­sign as a “great form of self-ex­pres­sion.”

The Caribbean Acad­e­my of Fash­ion De­sign, UTT grad­u­ate said of her ap­proach to de­sign­ing:

“I want women to feel lib­er­at­ed by the cloth­ing I make, I want them to feel pow­er­ful enough to es­cape the echoes of old nar­ra­tives of what women should be. I want women to look and feel un­stop­pable when they wear my clothes. I be­lieve women of all cul­tures and re­li­gions de­serve the world of re­spect, and I want peo­ple to feel mo­ti­vat­ed and in­spired by the women I dress.”

Howe spe­cialis­es in hand­made fab­ric ac­ces­sories which pro­mote Afro-Caribbean iden­ti­ty. With tra­di­tion­al chan­nels of rev­enue on the de­cline with the on­set of the pan­dem­ic, she leaned on her years of ex­pe­ri­ence to sur­vive and end­ed up in­tro­duc­ing face masks, waist bags, hand­made jour­nals and fab­ric-cov­ered di­aries and note­books to her brand. She al­so col­lab­o­rat­ed with oth­ers in her field and host­ed sales of past col­lec­tions, she said.

Structure with a hint of whimsical fantasy are the essence of designs by Azizah.

Structure with a hint of whimsical fantasy are the essence of designs by Azizah.

As Sun­day Guardian learnt in a Q&A with the in­no­v­a­tive women, be­ing a cre­ative comes in quite handy in a pan­dem­ic that has im­pact­ed in­dus­tries across the econ­o­my.

1. What is the in­spi­ra­tion for your lat­est col­lec­tion/pieces?

Afiya Bish­op of Loud by Afiya

My in­spi­ra­tion for the new col­lec­tion was plants and flow­ers. Be­cause I’m home so much it’s mak­ing me pay at­ten­tion to my nat­ur­al sur­round­ings. I opened a home store, so I al­so have plants there. They are re­fresh­ing, they calm you. I tried to tie that in with the Caribbean lifestyle; every­thing that we do, we do with some sul­try flair. I de­sign for the woman on the go; that woman who has to get every­thing done, but still looks fab­u­lous do­ing it. My in­spi­ra­tion as well is al­ways how to be sexy with­out re­veal­ing it all.

Az­izah Mo­hammed of Az­izah

When I cre­ate a col­lec­tion, I en­joy telling a nar­ra­tive, for me, de­sign is about cre­at­ing a sto­ry, us­ing fab­rics, colours, tex­tures, and sil­hou­ettes as my char­ac­ters and plot. The col­lec­tion “Re­claimed” fo­cus­es on na­ture re­claim­ing earth, and hu­mans re­claim­ing their hu­man­i­ty. Thus, the colour sto­ry and tex­tures dis­played in the col­lec­tion is in­spired by na­ture, and the sil­hou­ettes of the col­lec­tion are in­spired by the strength and ver­sa­til­i­ty of be­ing hu­man.

Na­tal­ie Howe, Own­er and Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of Dé-Col­lette-Té

In­spi­ra­tion comes in so many forms. Some­times I wake up, and af­ter my morn­ing de­vo­tion, I am just di­vine­ly in­spired to cre­ate. It’s a beau­ti­ful un­in­hib­it­ed flow of move­ment re­sult­ing in prod­uct cre­ation. As the own­er of a lifestyle brand that is pri­mar­i­ly an ex­ten­sion of who I am, I draw in­spi­ra­tion from my ex­pe­ri­ences, mood, and the en­er­gy em­a­nat­ing from colours tex­tures and pat­terns that are in front of me.

The brand pri­mar­i­ly pro­duces fab­ric ac­ces­sories with an Afro-Caribbean vibe. It is built to in­spire pos­i­tiv­i­ty around our iden­ti­ty, draw­ing from the colour and vi­bran­cy of our Caribbean peo­ple, cli­mate and cul­ture and the pat­terns and fab­rics from our African her­itage.

2. What ma­jor chal­lenges have you faced/are cur­rent­ly fac­ing dur­ing this pan­dem­ic?

Afiya Bish­op of Loud by Afiya

I was trav­el­ling less and go­ing out less, so I had to re­al­ly push my­self to be­come in­spired to cre­ate any­thing new, but it had a pos­i­tive ef­fect on me. It made me dig deep in­to the man­age­ment side of the busi­ness. I start­ed to do some on­line cours­es and joined some men­tor­ship pro­grammes which have re­al­ly helped me as well to know that I am not in this alone; every­body is fac­ing some sort of strug­gle at this time. This re­al­ly helped us to push our busi­ness­es to the next lev­el, even though we’re in a pan­dem­ic.

Az­izah Mo­hammed of Az­izah

Cre­at­ing a col­lec­tion dur­ing a pan­dem­ic has its pros and cons. More cons, than pros def­i­nite­ly! It has been dif­fi­cult to ac­cess sup­plies dur­ing this time, how­ev­er, be­ing forced to ma­noeu­vre through these short­com­ings to com­plete my col­lec­tion in­spired my cre­ativ­i­ty to utilise dif­fer­ent meth­ods in de­sign.

Na­tal­ie Howe, Own­er and Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of Dé-Col­lette-Té

The fash­ion in­dus­try suf­fered im­mense­ly as the pan­dem­ic forced peo­ple to stay in­doors and not gath­er. They, there­fore, had no rea­son to “dress up” or wear ac­ces­sories, which af­fect­ed how they pur­chased. We saw the de­cline of at­ten­dance to ar­ti­san mar­kets and re­tail lo­ca­tions un­til these ac­tiv­i­ties were to­tal­ly re­strict­ed. There was a great deal of chal­lenge to source raw ma­te­ri­als lo­cal­ly and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly as sup­pli­ers adopt­ed ir­reg­u­lar work­ing hours, were closed, and oth­ers that re­ly on im­ports were out of stock.

3. Any high points cre­at­ing or bring­ing your col­lec­tion/work, in gen­er­al, to fruition in these COVID times?

Afiya Bish­op of Loud by Afiya

It forces you to do things the prop­er way. You re­al­ly have to watch how you’re spend­ing. This has made me see what the busi­ness is miss­ing in terms of man­age­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tion. It forces you to be­come more cre­ative, but al­so see the func­tion­al parts of the cre­ativ­i­ty; you al­ways have to watch what the mar­ket wants and not do what you as the de­sign­er or busi­ness own­er wants. There are lots of new mar­kets open­ing up where I’m see­ing that the style of cloth­ing is not so dressy, but more loungewear.

Az­izah Mo­hammed of Az­izah

Hav­ing to pro­duce and mar­ket a col­lec­tion dur­ing a pan­dem­ic, I have no­ticed a grow­ing trend in vir­tu­al fash­ion shows and vir­tu­al launch­es. Per­son­al­ly, I think these vir­tu­al shows are a great way to reach a wider mar­ket, and it’s a great way to show­case Caribbean cre­ativ­i­ty to the world.

Na­tal­ie Howe, own­er and Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of Dé-Col­lette-Té

The pan­dem­ic pre­sent­ed an op­por­tu­ni­ty to think out­side the box. It be­came an op­por­tu­ni­ty to strate­gi­cal­ly piv­ot the brand in such a way that the tar­get au­di­ence stays in­ter­est­ed while al­so look­ing at the back end of things. It cre­at­ed an at­mos­phere to look close­ly at how I do things and work more on the busi­ness rather than in the busi­ness.

A few high points in­clude in­creased E-com­merce traf­fic through the so­cial me­dia pages and E-Com­merce site, the ad­di­tion of new prod­ucts and tap­ping in­to the re­gion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al mar­ket by the in­tro­duc­tion of In­ter­na­tion­al Ship­ping through DHL.

4. What are some lessons you learnt dur­ing this time?

Afiya Bish­op of Loud by Afiya

I have learnt to re­al­ly stay calm dur­ing the chaos, take my time to make de­ci­sions, al­ways stay on top of my book­keep­ing, al­ways try to make buy­ing easy for clients.

Az­izah Mo­hammed of Az­izah

A ma­jor les­son that I learnt dur­ing this time is that self-care is not self-in­dul­gence. Not on­ly does self-care have pos­i­tive out­comes for you, but it al­so sets an ex­am­ple for younger gen­er­a­tions as some­thing to es­tab­lish and main­tain for your en­tire life.

Na­tal­ie Howe, Own­er and Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of Dé-Col­lette-Té

I learned that we ex­ist in a very dy­nam­ic world. How we adapt to the chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment is the bane of our ex­is­tence. We must learn to draw our in­spi­ra­tion from pow­ers be­yond our­selves. Stay­ing pos­i­tive in the chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment is cru­cial and af­fects our abil­i­ty to think out­side the box.

Howe plans to add a few more prod­ucts to her line, in­crease brand aware­ness and man­u­fac­ture, and ex­port a range of prod­ucts on a large scale. Az­izah the brand will launch its new col­lec­tion “Un­fil­tered Ro­mance” on Au­gust 7, 2021. The col­lec­tion seeks to cel­e­brate women, show­ing fem­i­nin­i­ty as a strength rather than a weak­ness.



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