In between my mini rants about why and how we should do better as creative brands, periodically I’ll be posting interviews with industry players, who give their take on the state of things in the Caribbean.
The purpose of this series is to go deeper than the superficiality that the fashion industry is known for. It’s meant to force those of us in the industry to take a hard look at how we’re operating and force us to consider the future implications of our current actions.
For our first #tentoughquestions interview, meet James Hackett, illustrator, designer and brand ambassador for that ever elusive #Caribbeanaesthetic…well in my opinion at any rate.
His brand, Lush Kingdom epitomizes Caribbean beauty, colour and the Caribbean lifestyle. James was part of the first ever graduating class at the Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design (CAFD) at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. James has built a pretty loyal local following and is always looking to push the envelope when it comes to what Caribbean design encompasses.
Read on to hear more of James’ take on the state of fashion in the Caribbean and what we can do about it.
- What is the biggest driving force behind what you do?
JH: I want to tell stories. I want to be part of a Caribbean spectacle.
- What are the key elements to building a brand and following?
JH: I can speak about my experience so far, and that is tell your story, keep telling it and get better at communicating it to those who matter.
- What are your thoughts on the current state of the Caribbean fashion industry?
JH: Like most of what is happening here I think we will need more cohesion to push something forward.
4. Do you think designers and other creatives have enough of an understanding of the business side of the industry? If not, why not?
JH: There is still a heavy focus on runway shows and fashion events that is more about showcase than business, so I think not.
5. What’s your biggest business challenge?
JH: Trying to scale with inadequate systems.
6. What are your thoughts on the digital disruption currently taking place in the industry?
JH: The Caribbean is way behind what is happening elsewhere.
6b. Do you think this disruption is going to impact the Caribbean industry?
JH: It already has both from local brands who are beginning to embrace digital and competition from brands outside the region.
- How do you think we in the Caribbean can navigate the uncharted waters of this new territory?
JH: Get informed but we will need banks and legislation to play along I believe.
- Sustainable fashion- a marketing gimmick or an issue that needs to be taken more seriously?
JH: Sometimes I feel a bit like we are chasing a carrot on a stick where that is concerned, some of the best solutions are expensive and some of the efforts here look horrible. However being sustainable should not be overlooked at all.
- What do you think would be the biggest boost for the Caribbean fashion industry if implemented immediately?
- What’s the next big trend that you think the Caribbean needs to take advantage of?
JH: Invest in ourselves!
Thank you, James, with your pointed insights, you’ve hit straight to the point of the key issues affecting the industry. How do we solve these problems? Well, I can tell you we have some private sector players coming up with some pretty creative solutions, so that we won’t necessarily have to rely on or wait for the government or any national agency to get their act together to push the industry forward. Technology and the digital movement has made it easier to be an international player. We can indeed progress even with our limited resources and support.
Stay tuned to this blog and my Instagram page for more developments on that front.
Until next time,