For 17 years Caribbean Fashionweek (CFW) has been the main catalyst for the region’s fashion industry development. By focusing international attention on what the Caribbean has to offer, it has increased stakeholder capacity and generated business opportunities for regional designers, make-up artists, photographers, stylists and models. As the face of, and brains behind CFW, Fashion Director at Pulse Investments (an entertainment organization with the most established modeling agency on the island), Romae Gordon has seen its evolution first hand. From inspiration to innovation, the model turned businesswoman catches up with Jamaica Experiences to talk about the challenges and opportunities for Caribbean fashion as well as current trends and what’s in store for this year’s CFW.
JE: What was the inspiration behind the creation of Caribbean Fashionweek?
RG: Pulse started Caribbean Fashionweek as a means of changing the ‘Caribbean fashion show’ from being an entertainment event to one that stimulated fashion industry development. Much more business oriented, CFW includes buyers, international press for marketing and sales support, workshops, a business forum, an exhibition and a more professional presentation of the show – all in line with the event’s objectives. CFW has elevated Caribbean fashion to a place unknown prior to its inception. It has encouraged fashion development in Jamaica and the region and set the course for Caribbean fashion to take its place in the world.
JE: What has been its greatest success to date?
RG: A rapid expansion of the fashion industry, awareness of fashion as a business and an increase in the opportunities for people to consider careers in fashion from production, to designing, make-up artistry, fashion styling and photography.
JE: Why do you think it has been so hard for there to be a breakthrough designer, or stylist, from the Caribbean?
RG: The Caribbean fashion designer faces challenges that stem mainly from funding. There are the issues with respect to the value (or lack thereof) that we as a region place on the creative industries. Funding institutions are often too conservative about such businesses – although the evidence is there regarding the potential income an industry such as fashion can generate.
JE: What advice would you give an aspiring designer or stylist?
RG: Be passionate about what you do, have a clear direction as far as your fashion aesthetic. Create one or two signature staples that you can rework each season. Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) gave us the wrap dress for which she is well known. Missoni’s signature is their stripes. Chanel has the iconic skirt suit…and I could go on.
JE: How would you describe the future of the Caribbean fashion industry?
RG: I think we are in a state of individualized tastes and the industry will be driven by the consumer’s niche needs. A part of the challenge that Caribbean designers face is a lack of local critical mass for their products. Tapping into the tourist market is one way of addressing the volume issue in the market space. Several million tourists visit the Caribbean each year and there ought to be a channel to access this market. I remember going to Ecuador and buying a triangular suede and knit wrap and everywhere I have travelled to since, people are curious about its origins. This is an example of what designers should be doing …ensuring that tourists leave with a piece of fashion that is intrinsically Jamaican, Trinidadian, Barbadian etc.
JE: What can patrons expect this year that may be different from CFW of past years?
RG: The best of CFW past and present! We are back at the home of CFW, the beautiful Villa Ronai in Stony Hill and we expect to deliver an excellent fashion and entertainment experience to the attending public.
Caribbean Fashionweek runs June 7-11.
For more information call:
(876) 968 1089 or visit: