What is Caribbean Fashion?


The Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at the Fashion Institute of Technology was alive with the music, colors, accents, and fashion of the Caribbean when Janice Lawrence-Clarke, creative director of JLC PRoductions and founder of CAFE – Caribbean American Fashion Exchange™ introduced the topic, What is Caribbean Fashion? with Guyana-born Nikhol Hing, FIT graduate, fashion designer and cast member of Love&HipHop: Miami, and Richard Young, fashion stylist and production designer from Trinidad and Tobago.

Moderated by Lawrence-Clarke, the panel touched on subjects that ranged from the Caribbean’s multi-cultural/multi-ethnic makeup, to the stigma of being known as a Caribbean designer, to acknowledging the Caribbean aesthetic. The evening made for a very spirited discussion that was punctuated with two fashion presentations that showed the works of several Caribbean and Caribbean-American fashion designers such as: DrennaLuna, Donna Dove, Marie Francis, Marlon George, Heather Jones, Dominique LaRoche, Meiling, Claudia Pegus, Harvey Robertson, and The Cloth.

For the very first time in known history, Caribbean Fashion was discussed as an entity at the global level, and the question, What is Caribbean Fashion? was answered – Caribbean Fashion is in the Caribbean aesthetic of the sway of the walk, the unique mixture of colors and textures, the daring sensibility of combining patterns and hues, while at the same time respecting and embracing minimalism and quality; and the belief that this aesthetic is a natural influence on all who have the Caribbean traced in their DNA. Another outcome of this discussion included the proposal of a major fashion presentation of Caribbean designers here in New York, and the need for further education both at the industry and university level.

The program was well-attended and included guests from the diplomatic corps: Ambassador Loreen Bannis-Roberts of Dominica, Ambassador Pennelope Beckles of Trinidad and Tobago, and Ambassador Keisha McGuire of Grenada; and socialites such as former Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, jazz singer R’kardo Stevon, fashion designers Romero Bryan, Etu Evans, Kristin Frazer, Glenroy March and Mell Simon, and members of the dance company Something Positive. Sponsorship support came from Flag Fantasy, Leros Point-to-Point Limousine Services, Online Marketing, Inc., and ROW NYC Hotel.