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Caribbean Fashion Designers meet with Italian Fashion Industry Experts at CARIFESTA XIII in Barbados

Fashion designers participating in the Fashion component at the recently held CARIFESTA XIII in Barbados had an opportunity to meet with Italian fashion industry experts and benefit from fashion workshops, fashion shows and business meetings. The event, which took place in the CARIFESTA XIII Buyers Shopping Mall at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre from 21-25 August 2017, was facilitated by the CARICOM Secretariat with support from the Government of Italy.

The CARICOM – Italy project, valued at US$45,600, brought Caribbean fashion designers and manufacturers and Italian fashion industry experts together to forge new avenues for cooperation and partnership and provide opportunities for the professional development of Caribbean fashion designers and manufacturers. The focus was on expanding opportunities for training, technological exchange and participation in international fashion shows and events in Italy. The project brought three Italian fashion industry experts to CARIFESTA XIII and provided financial support to ten Caribbean fashion designers in the areas of apparel, jewellery, hats and other accessories. Project staff of the CARICOM Secretariat collaborated closely with the Host Country Fashion Team at CARIFESTA XIII in organising the exhibition, fashion shows, workshops/presentations and business meetings.  

On 21 and 22 August, the Italian experts gave presentations focused on “The Fashion System in the International Competition – The Italian Experience – The added value of the supply chain” by Antonio Franceschini, Secretary General CNA Federmoda, an Italian Association of 25,000 small and medium enterprises, with more than 1,000 offices throughout the country.   Roberto Corbelli, Italian fashion industry expert and producer of fashion events, presented on various fashion trends and scenarios. Daniela Cattaneo, pattern designer delivered a presentation on 24 August entitled “Pattern Making 2.0” and a subsequent workshop was held on 25 August on Pattern Making.

The fashion designers who were supported by the CARICOM – Italy Project were Miracle Hands Design – Carol Fraser (Guyana, apparel, hats and bags); Atelier Doré – Henk and Judith Uiterloo (Suriname, jewellery); Kuumba Designs – Queen Esther Joseph (Saint Lucia, apparel); Bijou Lakay – Daphnée Karen Floréal (Haiti, jewellery); Courtney Washington Collection (Jamaica, apparel); Kimmysric.clo – Kimon Baptiste (St. Vincent and the Grenadines, apparel); Sonia Noel Designs (Guyana, apparel); David André Collection (Haiti, apparel); Exodus – Nikolai Charles (Barbados, Afrocentric themed              T-shirts) and Rushell Ellis Fashion (Antigua and Barbuda, apparel).

A special showcase and business meeting on 24 August was well received by the Caribbean designers as each, on an individual basis, were provided feedback and advice by the Italian experts for furthering the development of their fashion lines. They expressed their excitement with the opportunity to network, as well as for the support received from the project and indicated their commitment to continue collaborating towards strengthening the fashion industry in the Caribbean.  One beneficiary of the project stated “I asked the Universe for this three years ago and now my blessing is becoming a reality!” (Queen Esther – Saint Lucia).

Programme Manager Culture and Community Development, Dr. Hilary Brown, of the CARICOM Secretariat, responsible for the management of the CARICOM-Italy Fashion Project and for overseeing the organization of CARIFESTA XIII, expressed her satisfaction with the implementation of the project: “I’m excited about the way in which the CARICOM-Italy Fashion Project has strengthened the linkages and created opportunities for new business ventures between Caribbean designers and the fashion sector in Italy and inspired our designers to form a regional fashion collective to strengthen the sector in the region.”

The Thirteenth Edition of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIII) was successfully staged from 17 – 27 August 2017 in Barbados under the theme “Asserting Our Culture, Celebrating Ourselves.” The expansion of the CARIFESTA XIII Grand Market to include a Buyers Shopping Mall was an innovative feature of the Festival which placed the development of the region’s cultural and creative industries at the centre of the Festival. Through this component, the work of the region’s artists in Home and Décor, Fashion, Gourmet, Film, Music, Literature and more were showcased.  The concept of the Caribbean Marketplace for the Arts/Buyers Shopping Mall which was introduced in CARIFESTA XI in Suriname in 2013 was expanded in 2017 through the support and efforts of various development partners and agencies including the Government of Italy, the European Union, the CARICOM Secretariat, Caribbean Export, the Association of Caribbean States and the University of the West Indies.   Barbados has, like Suriname, facilitated this regional platform where international arts promoters and buyers meet Caribbean artists and entrepreneurs, to generate new business opportunities towards increasing the export of the region’s cultural goods and services.

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