Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2015 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, March 19, 2015
...But at the same time, the reality
of global trade is inevitable. We face
it now, and we have to find a way
to accept that environment, and to
see how we can support local par-
ticipants to play in that environ-
ment, rather than to protect them
from it. In this age of online trans-
actions, protection across the board
is not the way.
One of the challenges indige-
nous businesses face is retail. The
endgame for fashion is retail. At
the end of the day, anything you
put in that workflow will be worn
by somebody. So whether you re
a designer or a seamstress, you
have to identify: How do you get
it to retail?
So one of the challenges here is
that you have local designers bring-
ing out local goods, that have an
authentic, indigenous touch, that
are competing with apparel stores
that import clothes from China at
low cost, often to the same clientele.
So how do you allow the people
bringing indigenous value to com-
pete? They can t even afford stores.
So maybe there should be con-
cessions to people in retail stores:
if you stock a local designer, you
get some incentive, for instance.
There are three things FashionTT
must do for local designers: help
them produce, produce to standard,
and help them get to market com-
petitively. We need shopfronts.
So FashionTT needs to support
initiatives: it could be online mar-
keting for local products, it could
be in-store incentives, it could be
mobile---wherever the traffic is; it
could be international. The public
needs more interface with local
designers, to see these products on
a store shelf.
Sometimes you might hear
someone say: we should take the
five best designers and market
them. Personally, I don t think it
is the State s role to choose the five
best designers. You should let the
market decide who the best design-
ers are by creating an environment
for all of us to go to market and
see which sells most.
What would you like to see hap-
pen this year, wearing both your
hats---chair of Fatt and FashionTT?
As chair of Fatt, my primary
objective is to build the membership
and allow the members of the asso-
ciation to do more business. It is a
business association. They should
bring to the table problems that
restrict them from doing business.
Once that exists, that is something
to inform other bodies, whether it
be multilateral agencies, or the State.
So it really should function like the
T&T Manufacturing Association.
As chair of FashionTT, I d like to
move the industry forward in a way
the stakeholders are on board with,
so that FashionTT can be a strong
lobbying force for the industry.
• Next week---The Business of
Fashion Part 2: Stakeholders
EDITOR'S NOTE: The clothing in
the photo used with Part One of
this story on Wednesday was
wrongly identified as being from
designer Deron Attz. They were by
Lauren Peters. We apologise for any
Continued from Page B1
Proper systems won't be affected by Govt change
production line, are we best at? Where
are we unique in terms of what we offer
A lot of signs are pointing to the cre-
ativity of the people. The uniqueness of
what we have to offer the industry may
be who we are as a culture, the essence
of the people and the spirit of the region.
That is what we can offer that can be
So that can factor into how we train
designers, as opposed to manufactur-
Yes. Enable a unique product, instead
of setting up huge factories that people
Is there a lot of groundwork still to
be done in the fashion sector?
The creative industries the State has
been focusing on are film, fashion and
design. Now, film through the film com-
pany has been operational for ten years
now. So they have the infrastructure.
Music, through TTEnt, they operated
before, so they laid down some ground-
work. The State s engagement with the
fashion industry is fairly new. So there
are always challenges in being able to
ramp up and put new workflows in place.
A few have said FashionTT is too
exclusive, that it doesn t consult, that
it picks a designer here or there.... How
do you respond to that?
FashionTT has not done anything so
far, in terms of supporting any designers
or specific initiatives. ...They have not
spent any money on initiatives. Now,
that is not to say that CreativeTT has
not done fashion activities before: they
did Masquerade...but that was before
Some stakeholders are skeptical of
the State s involvement in the fashion
sector, because they say despite some
good ideas, every time a government
changes, they reinvent the wheel. So
that s one criticism: there s no consis-
tency of policy from the State, with
regard to what people can or should
expect. What do you think?
It is good the State conceptualised the
FashionTT board, based on stakeholder
groups. It really was done with the inten-
tion of engagement of stakeholders.
With regard to changing state policies,
I think that happens across industries.
The only difference with fashion is that
there was no formal body that existed
before. There s a place to go to now,
whether to air grievances or other issues.
That will allow progress.
I think the challenge of crossing
administrations and the cycle of elections
will always pose challenges in any dem-
ocratic government. I think it s important
that if you put the right systems in place,
which seem to work, chances are it will
be less likely to be flipped or changed
from time to time through different
boards or different administrations. And
there are examples of that.
Some stakeholders say we should
protect an indigenous, sustainable fash-
ion industry which respects commu-
nities and raises local employment.
Others see fashion as a profit-driven
business, where you outsource jobs,
and it doesn t matter if local labour is
involved, you must be competitive and
turn a profit. Can you comment on
these two approaches?
There is nothing that prevents one
from happening and not the other.
Historically, in free market economies,
protectionist policies have tended not to
work in the long run. So even though
they may foster growth in the early stages,
in the longer term they have not worked.
At some point you have to hit the reality
of what s happening.
For me I think the two need to be
done. I think it s absolutely essential that
we support indigenous growth. And not
just because it s something nice to do.
With any product, unless you design,
develop and manufacture it hands-on,
indigenously, you will never really know
where you can tweak it, make it better.
I think you have to experience the entire
process. And find out where your unique-
ness is. Once you do that, then you can
instruct whoever may be doing it abroad,
this is the uniqueness this needs to be
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