Fashion can't spoil
COVID-19-related ban on entertainment events forces top designer to switch focus to funerals and photo shootsMonday, June 01, 2020
BY ARTHUR HALL
After stitching his way to top of the second season of television reality show Mission Catwalk in 2012, Gregory “HOD” Williams became one of Jamaica's hottest fashion designers, with dancehall stars and other fashionistas beating a path to his door for the suits to rock any stage show and dance.
It was shaping up to be another bumper year for Gregory HOD until the coronavirus pandemic hit the island, forcing the cancellation of most social events.
“I had a lot of events that have been cancelled [or are in limbo] such as BRT, Dream Weekend, and Sumfest. I also have a lot of weddings that have been pushed back. So it's a lot of work that I had planned, or that I was working on that I have had to pause,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer late last week.
According to Williams he started taking note of the threat of COVID-19 from late last year and began to make adjustments based on the possibility that it could hit Jamaica, which it did with the island's first confirmed case on March 10.
“What I did was to adjust in terms of spending and planned for anything to happen. A lot of my clients were saying, 'Gregory I need this for such and such a time, and I hope the coronavirus don't come.' But it happened. I have to hope that when everything back to normal … or when people can go out again I will be ready.
“I planned for it, even if I didn't expect it to be so drastic. But I find that things are slowly coming back to normal, which is good,” added Williams as he shared the changes he has made to reduce the fallout from COVID-19.
“What I have been doing through the whole coronavirus is mostly photo shoots because most of my clients are people who go to parties and such like that. I also do weddings and such like that because that is my area of expertise,” said Williams
“Since the whole coronavirus there is no outside keeping, so I accept that the people who like to dress up they are still going to find ways to keep things going, and a lot of them are social media influencers, like the artistes Spice, Ishawna, and certain top socialites.
“So what I do is that I create looks that they can use to do photo shoots, which sees me still having an income coming in same way but it is not 100 per cent. I would say my earning is down about 50 per cent,” added Williams.
In addition to the photo shoots Williams has tried to supplement his income by designing suits for persons attending funerals. “So even as they say only 10 people should attend a funeral I target those, because the 10 people are going to be the most important … and they still want to stand out, so I will do their outfits,” declared the man who most people refer to as Gregory HOD.
He underscored that since his victory in Mission Catwalk, where he out-stitched designers from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Belize, and other countries, he has enjoyed a boom in his business.
“People just see my designs and it's like a fantasy for them, because people are always looking for someone to create a look that is iconic, different, and timeless, and that is how I come in,” said Williams as he pointed to a dress that he designed for dancehall star Spice which she should have worn in a performance that has been cancelled.
“I target the 'it girls' who are always going out, and that has worked for me, and I keep expanding because when they wear an outfit everyone sees it and they will tag me and talk about me and that helps my business to grow,” added Williams, who expressed confidence that he will continue to grow post-COVID-19.
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