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New Year, new style

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Celebrate the next decade by embracing the talents of eight up-and-coming Caribbean designers. Jeneille Lewis introduces a roster of exciting young creatives on the scene who’ll help you look hot for 2020

La Vern, Barbados
Designer: Melanie Thorpe
Style in three words: Seductive, detailed, wild
About La Vern: My focus is on women: how they feel in my pieces and how my pieces feel on them. I focus a lot on custom sizing.
Unique selling point: A deeply sensual yet tasteful aesthetic. I want my babes to feel sexy and know that they can take on anything. All women are welcomed here; because of that, there’s this beautiful community of women. It isn’t just a brand, it’s a babe movement – a brand made by women for women.
What are you doing differently? Choosing the most sensual aspect of fashion in a conservative society. I love showcasing women in powerful pieces. Every visual, every film, every concept, is a chance for me to move women somehow.
Plans for 2020: My SS19 collection represented how my design process has been going: unpredictable! There’s no rule book I follow when it comes to design, but I’m inspired by the detail in haute couture and the limitless possibilities of asymmetry. One is glamorous, the other rigid; used mindfully, together they create beauty.
What will be hot this year? Lots of solid colours and artistic prints. I don’t think animal print has run its course yet.
Info: www.lavernbymr.com; Instagram @lavernbymr; info@lavernbymr.com

Kimmystic.Clo, St Vincent & the Grenadines
Designer: Kimon Baptiste
Style in three words: Functional, timeless, versatile
About Kimmystic.Clo: We produce ready-to-wear clothing and custom-made bridal, prom and evening gowns for women aged 25 to 45; our woman is a graduate, an employee, a mother, a wife. She doesn’t get out often, but when she does she cleans up nicely. She is comfortable in her own skin and wants to be comfortable in her clothing.
Unique selling point: The quality of our product. We use natural fibres such as linens and cottons, and the finest brocades, beads and sequinned lace.
What are you doing differently? We are 100% committed to doing what is right for our customers. Marketing is more than advertising; it’s understanding consumer buying trends, being able to anticipate distribution needs and developing business partnerships that improve our market share. We work hard to stay ahead of the competition.
Plans for 2020: There will be a new collection, more than likely including frills and ruffles – they have become my signature as I find interesting ways to incorporate them.
What will be hot this year? The long white dress will always be on trend; magenta and burnt yellow will also be hot.
Info: Instagram @kimmysticclo; kimon.baptiste@gmail.com

Island Fella, Trinidad & Tobago
Designer: Kern Ryan Mollineau
Style in three words: Functional, comfortable, cool
About Island Fella: We design simple, loose-fitting cotton shirts and long-line T-shirts and tanks that allow freedom of movement and give off an air of casualness.
Unique selling point: Adaptability and a focus on comfort. We are big on the personal touch because relationships matter – every customer gets a handwritten note with their piece. Also, no more than 15 shirts in each style are available at any point, and each is tailored to you.
What are you doing differently? We are very focused on composition and aesthetic, and our photos capture a sense of relatability. The idea was to juxtapose the island vibe of the fabric with urban backgrounds, to pull away from the typical island clichés. We have collaborated with creative minds – for instance, filmmaker Maya Cozier played an important role in early concepts.
Plans for 2020: We see Fella as a lifestyle brand, so we’ll be flowing with it. The last line was inspired by my aunt’s dry-cleaners: I saw a shirt there that had to be 15 years old.
What will be hot this year? The Caribbean as a whole is an exciting hub of creativity, and it’s amazing to envision what the future has lying ahead for us all as a collective.
Info: Instagram @island_fella; islandfelladesigns@gmail.com

Poshelle, St Vincent & the Grenadines
Designer: Lisa Cordice
Style in three words: Feminine, glamorous, island-chic
About Poshelle: Contemporary and unique fashion for women of all shapes and sizes, with ready-to-wear, haute couture and bespoke options.
Unique selling point: Inclusivity and representation. Poshelle’s mission is to create glamorous women’s fashion, while not sacrificing fit for style.
What are you doing differently? We don’t outsource any part of the fashion process. I come up with the creative concepts. I sometimes create the actual fabric, if the design depends on it. Lately, I’ve been getting into a lot of hand-painting, tie dyes and batik, and I’m working to create fabric from fusions of non-traditional textiles. I create my own samples, and I sew and refine them. We’ve also been commended for using non-traditional models in our campaigns; we use some of our own clients. Everyone should be able to see themselves wearing Poshelle.
Plans for 2020: It’s all about mindfulness, finding balance and maintaining harmony. My plan is to integrate my art with textiles to create unique, eye-catching prints inspired by nature, in cool, relaxing colours, to capture the essence of the ‘zen’ experience.
What will be hot this year? I can see monochromatic colours dominating. Also Asian influences, statement accessories and ‘snatched’ and belted waistlines.
Info: www.facebook.com/irockposhelle; Instagram @irockposhelle; irockposhelle@gmail.com

Suga Apple Swim, Barbados
Designer: Kim Angoy
Style in three words: Simple, sexy, fun
About Suga Apple Swim: We offer a wide range of swimsuit styles for different occasions. Tanning, boating, playing on the beach or just lounging – we have a style for all.
Unique selling point: Our cuts, prints and colour combinations. Customers also know that they will never find 300 people with the same swimsuit. For more conservative clients we can tweak the designs – all of our pieces are carefully handcrafted on the island.
What are you doing differently? We celebrate all that encompasses femininity, regardless of size, shape, colour or age. We have had so many women tell us how sexy and confident they feel in our pieces. There is no better feeling than this as a designer. Whenever we create a style that can be reversed, we do. This allows our women to get the most out of each piece.
Plans for 2020: There will definitely be a 2020 collection! Expect some braiding, fringes and shells. Our ‘Ri-Ri’ or ‘X-me Sexy’ style has been a heavy hitter since the style was worn by Rihanna a few years ago. We never have enough of this style.
What will be hot this year? I think we can expect to see frills and trims, and a bohemian-type flair. Plus lots of natural and sustainable materials.
Info: www.sugaappleswim.com; Instagram @sugaappleswim

FETE-ish, St Lucia
Designer: Kayle Cassius
Style in three words: Stand-out, functional, ‘trend-lightly’
About FETE-ish: Footwear to be noticed – not just beautiful but strong.
Unique selling point: FETE-ish offers footwear characterised by stand-out beauty and high quality, so that every pair can be enjoyed for a long time. The brand is also about personal creative expression.
What are you doing differently? Demonstrating a clear commitment to my personal values. Also, I believe in collaboration – I enjoy collaborating with other creatives and customers; I believe there is a designer in everyone. Whenever I co-design, I always end up with something special. I want to encourage more people to express their individual style by having input into the design of their shoes.
Plans for 2020: ‘Building Blocs’ was my first attempt at putting together a ‘collection’. I applied the foundational concepts of my mostly self-taught and on-going education in high-heel making and in bold colour blocks. It consists of mid- and high-heel sandals, all with chunky or block heels.
What will be hot this year? I think we’ll see more focus on design elements on or in shoe heels as well as unconventional heel shapes.
Info: www.myfeteish.com; www.facebook.com/myfeteish; Instagram @feteish

Reclaimed Island Design Studio, St Vincent & the Grenadines
Designer: Shara Balcombe
Style in three words: Tropical, boho, chic
About Reclaimed Island: We turn post-consumer products and reclaimed materials into fab home décor in imaginative and environmentally conscious ways.
Unique selling point: We rescue and re-invent it so you can relish it. We take old or unwanted things, and create something totally different and chic.
What are you doing differently? We’re not just working with one material. We’ve used bottles, newspaper, salvaged coral, concrete. It’s about what any given material can become.
Plans for 2020: There is a new collection in the works – I plan to create pieces that are a bit more ornate. My last collection was inspired by Caribbean living, nature and gardening.
What will be hot this year? Trends like minimalism and eco style will run into 2020 and beyond, especially as people have become more environmentally conscious.
Info: Facebook: Reclaimed Island Design Studio; Instagram @reclaimedislanddesigns; reclaimedislanddesignstudio@gmail.com

D’Punchline, Trinidad & Tobago
Designer: Gabrielle Punch
Style in three words: Simple, functional, fashionable
About D’Punchline: Original, handcrafted leather goods including journals, wallets, shoulder bags and backpacks. D’Punchline represents my country and myself: Caribbean, one-of-a-kind, high quality, classy yet funky, colourful, innovative, authentic, even imperfect at times.
Unique selling point? I create one-off pieces – there’s no mass production. When a customer purchases one of my pieces, they know they’re the only person in the world who has it. Most of my creations are unisex or gender inclusive. If you’re a man, and you like a purple cross-body tote I’ve made, just buy it!
What are you doing differently? I’ve expanded beyond the kind of brown, hard, cow-leather goods you typically find in tourist shops in the Caribbean. My pieces are made from soft and luxurious leathers, and are available in a range of colours.
Plans for 2020: I’m looking at collaborations with fellow creatives. Thus far I’ve worked with photographers Rachel Lee Young and James Solomon, and soy candle artisans Galt & Maree, combining my leatherwork with their products to form unique pieces and packages.
What will be hot this year? I see more funky and modern waist pouches, cross-body chest pouches and backpacks available in every colour.
Info: www.facebook.com/dpunchlinett; Instagram @dpunchlinett

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