Photograph by Luca Khouri
Although born and bred in the fashion capital of London, my first experience of runway fashion was in the Caribbean. When I did experience the trend churning European fashion scene, what it lacked for me was memorable connections that weren’t just based on prestige and pretentiousness. Fashion in the Caribbean has its ups and downs, but it’s gradually evolving. Even though this is more relative to the pace of a carousel ride, it gives you the opportunity to hop on and be a part of the development as it builds momentum.
This year, I’m particularly excited about Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW), which kicks off tomorrow, in Kingston, Jamaica. Not only because of the plethora of approachable talent it draws from the region and as far afield as Africa and Australia, but for the fact that Caribbean designs, will finally be made available to online shoppers around the world. And, of course our very own ComplexdWoman Aria Francis will be making her fashion week debut.
Caribbean Fashion Week founder Kingsley Cooper, announced the exciting launch of Shopcaribbeanfashion.com, an online Caribbean fashion ecommerce website designed to introduce and export the crème of the region’s fashion design talent to an international audience.
Seen as I love supporting Caribbean designers and up-and-coming Grenadian talent I spoke to the brains behind ShopCaribbeanFashion.com Jessica Huie, Founder of London agency JH Public Relations and international branding expert Kubi Springer who are set to launch the site on the morning of June 15, prior to the evening’s fashion show. I also had a quick catch-up with aspiring Grenadian model Aria Francis to find out how she’s prepping for the shows.
How did the idea for ShopCaribbeanFashion.com come about?
The idea came about during Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW) 2013. Jessica Huie and I were watching the show and we thought, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the public could purchase designs as they hit the runway. We wanted CFW to have a ‘shopping experience’ allowing consumers to not only enjoy the designers’ collection, but also have the opportunity to walk away with them. This idea evolved into the concept of an online shop that would celebrate all designers from the Caribbean and wider Diaspora; giving them a platform to commercialise their talents and exposed their brands to the world. We then pitched ShopCaribbeanFashion.com to Kingsley the founder of CFW and we’re so excited to launch it to the public at CFW 2014.
Why did JHPR and SheBuildsBrands decide to partner with Pulse Fashion?
The three-way partnership is critical to the success of the project. Pulse have the access and relationships with the designers, JHPR has the global press contacts to ensure it reaches all media and my team and at SheBuildsBrands we specialise in turning brands into a commercial success. Collaboratively we bring a strength that will make ShopCaribbeanFashion.com an innovative and groundbreaking project.
Will ShopCaribbeanFashion.com deliver worldwide?
Yes we will facilitate global orders and delivery. The key principle behind the brand is to present Caribbean designers to a global market. As someone from the UK with international experience I know that there is a huge market for Caribbean inspired designs and I think that ShopCaribbeanFashion.com will simply be feeding this hungry market on a global scale. When you think of ShopCaribbeanFashion.com – think of ASOS with a Caribbean twist!
Photograph by Luca Khouri
What’s the criteria if I’m a Caribbean designers wanting to sell my pieces on ShopCaribbeanFashion.com?
The criterion for designers is to have a minimum of a three piece collection. They can either be ‘ready-to-wear’, ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’ designs as the site will cater to a wide price point from designs that are under US$100 to designs over US$1,000. In addition, the designers need to have the capacity to deliver across sizes and within the specified order timeframe. For young designers this may mean working on a smaller collection with less numbers, but more of an impact. Whether it’s a young designer or seasoned professional; the core component is quality. We want to ensure that we are bringing the best of the Caribbean to the rest of the world.
Photograph by Salima Esmail
How did you feel when you heard the news you were invited to walk at Caribbean Fashion Week?
With this being my first fashion week and quite a prestigious one in the Caribbean, when I heard the news I was delighted. Developing my modeling career means so much to me and to be given this opportunity is really a dream come true. To represent Grenada on the runway at one of Jamaica’s biggest fashion events, gives me and other Grenadian models hope for the future.
How have you been preparing for the show?
I’ve been exercising daily to remain toned and I’ve been drinking a lot of water. Most importantly, I keep practicing my runway walk and getting tips from former, professional model, Jelena Golub Habulan, who’s assisting me with perfecting my technique. She always has the best advice!
What are you looking forward to?
Gaining experience and being in front of international designers, model scouts and photographers. Being blessed with this wonderful opportunity will allow me to meet successful Jamaican models like Jeneil Williams and Oraine Barrett. Jeneil Williams is such an inspiration so I would love to meet her!
Are you nervous?
At the moment I am not nervous, it’s an opportunity that I have been mentally preparing for. I can’t wait to show my confidence and fierceness on and off the runway. I feel even more encouraged by the fact that people in the Grenadian diaspora reached out to support me, namely Mr. Denison George. I would also like to thank my Grenadian sponsors Andall’s and Associates and Astral Travel & Tours who are providing me with the opportunity to go out there and represent Grenada well.