WORKSHOP TEAM: New York-based fashion designer and former senior instructor at Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Babatu Sparrow, centre, front row, and acting chairman of Fashion Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Christopher Nathan, left, front row, with the participants from Fashion designer workshop series. –Photos: Curtis Chase

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Keeping pace with Fashion

...Emerging designers get chance to shine

By Kimoy Leon Sing

Paving the way for the future of fashion in Trinidad and Tobago, the Fashion Industry Development Committee (FIDC), under the purview of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services, had a closing ceremony for their Fashion designer workshop series at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre on November 26.

The Fashion designer workshop series, which took place on September 9, 10 and ended on November 26, targeted new and emerging designers from 20 local fashion houses.

Participants showcased their collection portfolios of work they had done during the two-month period to New York-based fashion designer and former senior instructor at Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Babatu Sparrow, and acting chairman of Fashion Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Christopher Nathan.

Geared towards helping local designers create commercially relevant collections, much emphasis was placed on understanding the business side of fashion.

“The reason for this workshop was to get local fashion designers more developed, more competitive, to innovate more and to get ready as we position Port of Spain as the fashion capital of the Caribbean and a major fashion centre on par with Sao Paulo, New York, Paris or Milan,” Nathan said.

“What we are suggesting is that Port of Spain has the potential to be the centre of fashion. We have tremendous talent; however, in many cases the business side has not been looked after and designers are sometimes not current with styles and trends,” he added.

He noted the disconnect or the failure to keep up to date with what is going on with fashion or the fashion industry has been apparent when looking back at past Fashion Weeks in Trinidad.

He said, “While some of the collections looked interesting when coming down the catwalk; upon closer inspection we saw that in some cases construction was a problem; fit was a problem and also the market in which some of the designers were targeting were too wide and varied. We tried to explain to the designers that they have to target a particular market and not everybody. If you’re designing women’s wear; do women’s wear; if you’re doing men’s wear focus on men’s wear; if you’re doing resort wear, do resort wear and if you’re doing bridal wear then do that.”

He noted this was one of the main reasons for having such a workshop so designers could understand when they showed a collection it does not have to be everything and the kitchen sink, he said.

“Fashion is a $300 billion industry globally and I think Trinidad and Tobago has enough talent and craftsmanship to get a piece of that pie,” he said.

For that reason, the Government was eager to establish the Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design at UTT.

He noted while there are places like Servol and YTEPP that teach dressmaking and clothing and textiles, when students graduate they are unable to get a job in the industry right away.

He said, “We would like students to come to CAFD and get more formal training where they can intern at a fashion house and then later on launch their own collections.”

“We hope that young people who desire a career in fashion will get trained because natural talent will only take you so far,” he added.

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