Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 8th 2015 Contents Ashley Christmas
Now in its fifth year, the Tobago Fashion Week has found it-
self the premier fashion event on the national landscape. So
important has it become that it is now marketed as 2TFW, the
Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Week.
It’s all validation for the man behind the mission, Ashley Christ-
mas, who, when he migrated from his native Tobago to New Jer-
sey, had no real concept of fashion.
“Fashion wasn’t something I thought of beyond if you have
money, buy something good,” he said.
In fact, Christmas was into real estate, he did it for 10 years
until one weekend when he came to Trinidad and felt so at home
he decided he wanted to become an earth member for life, a
phrase that he registered upon his return to the States.
One cold morning, he recalled, he went to appraise a house and
decided it was time to shift gears and do something different.
He started a line of T’shirts under the brand Earth Member for
Life and so began his immersion into the world of fashion.
“I met Ray Wong and Joseph Mbeh, co-founders of Intricate
Concepts and they pretty much said they will show me how
fashion works. I did a sample run of shirts, hats, T’shirts and
found out how getting into fashion as a business wasn’t cheap or
simple,” said Christmas, who said he sold one of his six rental
properties to finance a line of 2500 tees.
His appetite whetted, he sold four more of his properties and
decided to dedicate himself fully to the cause.
In 2008, Christmas said he got a distribution deal from Saks
and started production in China. When the shipment was
halfway across the ocean, Saks called and canceled the order.
“I had to make a quick decision, I took on a partner and we hit
the streets. I went to every single island in the Caribbean and
someone called and asked me to come to Fashion Week Trinidad
and Tobago so I came and met people I heard of but never met
One of those people was FWTT founder Dianne Hunt who
asked him to sit on the board as a director.
In 2010, Christmas said he wanted the show to go to Tobago
and the Tobago House of Assembly invested in the Tobago leg.
The following year, the THA wanted to get involved again but
wanted more Tobagonians participating. Christmas said they
wanted him to form a Tobago organisation that would unite with
FWTT but that created a riff with him and Hunt, he said.
Seeing an opportunity to promote the land of his birth, Christ-
mas pushed forward.
Though it was a challenge, Christmas said he knows how to
make moving parts come together and rallied friends to form a
not-for-profit organisation called Designers United Stores (DUS).
TFW was born.
Over the last five years, Christmas has invested over $600,000
“It will pay off because we won’t quit,” he said resolutely,
lamenting about his past disappointments with sponsors.
More than just a fashion show, TFW is about helping to raise
the standards in the industry by offering training sessions with
people like Wong, who, last year, imparted insider knowledge on
the importance of quality production, dealing with suppliers etc.
There has also been etiquette training for models, chat ses-
sions with entrepreneurs in the creative sector and foreigners
who work in the fashion field as publishers, writers and photog-
The most important part for Christmas has been the develop-
ment of the youth. A large part of TFW is the schools program
where high school students in Tobago are encouraged to develop
their talents in fashion and design. Last year, students were
asked to create patterns which were then transposed to fabric
and made into garments, one of which was modeled at the
media launch of 2TFW.
Christmas has big plans for TFW and given its reign as one of
the few fashion events to have lasted the test of time, he is de-
termined to make it bigger and better.
This year’s event will see workshops in Trinidad, a daily runway
show in Piarco airport and a gala launch on Friday at Estate 101
For Christmas, it is all about evolving and striving to be the
“I am not here for the mileage, something happened to me at
22, I met some people in the US and they told me that it is im-
possible for you to be better than you are if you do the same
thing day in and day out,” he said.
Ashley Christmas, centre, with the creative team behind Tobago Fashion Week at Trinidad Launch of 2TFW at La Cantina
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