Monday, January 20, 2014

PoS could recapture caribbean fashion hotspot | Archives

PoS could recapture caribbean fashion hotspot | Archives



Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to wow the fashion world as a new global player, using information and communication technologies (ICT) and new materials, as well as in becoming an international fashion centre with a “designers’ row” downtown of the country. This is one of the findings of studies done by Dr Michele Reis and Ian Ivey, of NEXT Corporation, in association with the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (Niherst) and a range of local expertise in business, IT, the creative sector, research and others, and the T&T Foresight and Innovations Network.
Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to wow the fashion world as a new global player, using information and communication technologies (ICT) and new materials, as well as in becoming an international fashion centre with a “designers’ row” downtown of the country. This is one of the findings of studies done by Dr Michele Reis and Ian Ivey, of NEXT Corporation, in association with the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (Niherst) and a range of local expertise in business, IT, the creative sector, research and others, and the T&T Foresight and Innovations Network.
“T&T already has a successful and innovative fashion and creative sector that provides a strong platform for ‘going global’ in a more proactive and ambitious way. “It is a sector that is in tune with a great deal of national passion,” said Dr Reis. Together with Ivey, she is helping industry stakeholders examine and invest in promising entrepreneurial initiatives in fashion.
fashion Fashion future is markets of one
She noted that at the turn of the 19th century, downtown Port-of-Spain was the major shopping district in the Caribbean that attracted shoppers from throughout the hemisphere to buy from top local dressmakers and tailors, and European and US-imported clothing. Reis said: “Port-of-Spain has the potential to recapture the distinction of being the Caribbean’s foremost fashion and shopping centre. The city has already undergone a considerable amount of redevelopment, particularly in the waterfront area, and more is planned for the central city and surrounding areas.”
She identified the area bordered by Frederick Street, on the west; Duncan Street, on the east; Park Street to the north and South Quay as suited to becoming an international fashion centre. This would complement areas in Port-of-Spain already earmarked for redevelopment, and work well the Government’s plans to create a pedestrian mall in the area bounded by Woodford Square, Knox, Hart and Pembroke Streets.
The Niherst study was based on the local need to evolve globally competitive businesses, “not only to compensate for the inevitable decline in the country’s oil and gas resources, but also to provide higher quality and more stimulating knowledge-based employment opportunities in the future for the increasing numbers of students graduating from universities, both at home and offshore.”
Utilising foresighting as a tool to assessing future consumer needs, it identified trends shaping the global fashion sector through the next decade as:
• customers’ desire for clothing that reflects multi-ethnic and multi-cultural influences,
• demand for “intelligent materials” sensitive to the wearer’s needs,
• and the changing ways in which the world conducts business, driven by options for virtual design and new business models that can produce for “markets of one,” as opposed to mass production.
These findings were based on extensive analysis and interactive workshops with designers, market experts, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and IT professionals as well as the local fashion sector. Even though there ill be a need to expand technological expertise and research and development as well as revise attitudes to networking among designers, fashion was identified as a growth area that could be readily implemented in T&T.
This, given the country’s already existing base of clothing products that can be customised for many markets, especially the range of diasporic “niches” and heritage markets of India, Africa and China, along with the close Latin American market and the Caribbean diasporas in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Dr Reis said, “Trinidad and Tobago already has a successful and innovative fashion and creative sector, which provides a strong platform for ‘going global’ in a more proactive and ambitious way.”
Revitalising Port-of-Spain as an international fashion centre was one of three “best bets” in the local fashion sector voted as potentially most lucrative.
fashionDesigners could cut it globally with ICT stitch
The others were a T&T virtual design and marketing facility that responds to individualised fashion needs for E-suiting; and a “one-stop creative design portal” that matches individual wearer’s requirements to local and global fashion houses as desired. Dr Reis said: “The ‘best bets’ are all cutting-edge opportunities facilitating customised ‘design and build’ collections for sale to end-consumers around the world with e-commerce and Internet support. “They leverage on the potential of new technologies like the Internet, facilitated by large popular portals such as YouTube and MySpace, which are rendering mega conglomerate business models redundant, to give small operators and small countries with highly specialised and unique offers, a ‘global niche.’”
Reis said if you took the local pool of highly creative T&T fashion design skills and combined it with innovative designers from other parts of the world, T&T could go truly global with a highly customised and unique offer. The new opportunities allow designers to accommodate different tastes of consumers, including cost, choice of fibres, styles, and other needs, so much already in demand in today’s world and surely will become more so in ensuing years. “These enterprises will earn revenue by commission on design fees charged to customers and royalties on any finished products manufactured commercially using such designs,” said Reis.
Basic road maps of the route-to-success, with preliminary projections of investments, have been developed for each of the proposed “best bets.” They also have identified the need for further development of intellectual property regulations for the sector and skills training, particularly in IT and new marketing. (See http://niherst.gov.tt/s-and-t/projects/foresighting/fashion). Key to all of this is a forward-thinking entrepreneur who can stitch together the existing elements, source those lacking, including seaming alliances and partnerships locally, regionally and internationally and step into a successful future in fashion.
Positive existing fashion factors
• Well-developed pool of design and fashion skills and specialists
• Suiting plants and factories, such as Tobiki, da Costa’s, Janoura’s and Front Row
• Supportive creativity and research capabilities, testing laboratories, some locally developed technology, marketing and branding expertise, and institutional support from UTT, Cariri and UWI
• Experience in experimenting with prototypes, use of the Internet and expanding Internet connectivity
• Available training through the Fashion Entrepreneurs of Trinidad and Tobago—a national training project that aims to back the development of manufactured products with a “Made in TnT” label—and the developing UTT Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design, among others;
• Government business sector development agencies such as Nedco, E-Teck and the Business Development Company.
Dr Kris Rampersad is a
media and literary consultant
- See more at: http://www.guardian.co.tt/archives/features/life/2009/04/12/pos-could-recapture-caribbean-fashion-hotspot#sthash.hMvTF0Cd.dpuf