Regional fashion industry worth $10 billion a year — Cooper
With the 2012 staging of Caribbean Fashioweek (CFW) firmly tucked away under his belt, Kingsley Cooper, head honcho at modelling agency Pulse which produces the event can now breathe a sigh of relief.
For Cooper, CFW 2012 saw a growth and development in the 12-year-old showcase of the region's design and modelling talent.
"Growth this year was on a much broader level," he states. "The emphasis was primarily focussed on the development of designers, working to take them to that next level," he adds.
Between June 8 and 11, a total of 51 collections from 50 designers took to the runway inside the National Indoor Sports Centre in the Corporate Area.
With a budget of $60 million to stage CFW 2012, Cooper shies away from pin-pointing the total spin-off in dollar-value for the Jamaican economy.
"It is difficult to put a clear number on CFW's contribution to the economy... it is undoubtedly very significant. When the extensive range of activities, services employed, spin offs, multipliers, as well as the width and depth of multinational participation is considered, the value of this project must be in the hundreds of millions of Jamaican dollars," says Cooper.
It is this potential that Cooper eyes when he estimates that the regional fashion industry could be worth billions if allowed to develop.
"According to rough estimates, the Caribbean fashion Industry — English, French, Spanish and Dutch — is conservatively worth J$10 billion per year. Given the relative infancy and underdevelopment of the regional industry, one could assume a value of 10 times this amount, once fully developed." he states.
But what exactly is required to attain this level? Splash asks.
Cooper, who is also chairman of the Caribbean Fashion Industry Association (CAFIA), notes that emphasis now has to be placed on funding, training, strategic partnerships, export, and unity through expanded membership of the CAFIA and policy consensus.
This development of the region's designers was the driving force behind the workshop staged during CFW 2012 which featured British fashion expert, David Jones.
Coopers explains that coming out of this forum a number of regional designers will have the opportunity to be represented by Jones, as they seek to move their products into the international market. He says a number of designers are currently in discussion with Jones. These include Meiling (Trinidad & Tobago) and David Andre (Haiti)
For Trinidad & Tobago designer Robert Young, his label, The Cloth was showing at CFW for the 10th time.
He sees CFW as an ideal forum for regional designers to meet, showcase their talents and share ideas. "That's what keeps me coming back."