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Industry needs help

Sunday, May 13, 2018
Fashion designer Heather Jones
Fashion designer Heather Jones, fourth from left, poses with models after the Lévé fashion show at Villa Being, Arnos Vale, Tobago, last Sunday. PICTURES SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Veteran fashion designer Heather Jones is making another appeal to the relevant agencies to give the industry the tools it needs to survive, saying it can be a very good foreign exchange earner if it is given the chance to succeed.

“The fashion industry needs help! We don’t have a fashion industry in the true sense of what industry means,” Jones told the Sunday Guardian.

Jones said there is great talent here in T&T, but help is needed and the people in the positions to give that help are always choosing the wrong people for the job and making the wrong decisions.

“Look, right now my colleague Meiling, and I know she is completely fed up, so she has just separated herself and being quiet in her corner doing her thing, because government after government, people after people come and they all just keep making the same mistakes over and over. They’re not listening and not helping. What they are doing is just keeping their pay cheque running until somebody else takes over,” Jones said.

She noted former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s declaration, at the 2010 Fashion Week of T&T, that the fashion industry should be viewed as an alternative revenue-earner to the energy sector.

Noting Persad-Bissessar also made a similar claim in 2014 at CreativeTT’s Masquerade Gala and promised fashion would be one of her administration’s seven development pillars to diversify the economy away from energy.

Jones said: “Remember those promises she made to the fashion industry? Nothing ever happened. Fashion is a multi-faceted industry where so many elements must come together to make a product.”

She explained that winning an international award and preparing the best samples and presenting the best shows are not enough.

“There is the element of so many other things that have to be attached to your garment to be really established on the international market,” she said.

Jones pointed to the success of African fashion and its global influence. But she said it took the whole country to get behind their designers and support them at all the important venues, “so everybody had to look.”

She said her own Caribbean brand stands on an international market and turns heads everywhere it is showcased.

“I created this brand from my gut because I knew I had to do something different in order to be noticed. There are a million of us out there trying to be gorgeous and if everywhere the Heather Jones line shows it turns heads and receives standing ovations, then it speaks for itself. We need to become serious about really creating a real model fashion industry in the region and get on with it,” she said.

Jones’ comment came as she unveiled her wedding collection at last weekend’s 2018 Lévé at Arnos Vale, Tobago. Although she has 35 years of designing experience over 32 international awards from around the globe, Jones said she was unveiling her collection for a specific reason. (See page A14)

“Being part of this event is to reacquaint people with the Heather Jones brand and the presence of the brand. Also, you may never know who is in the crowd. There is always a new bride or a new client. It is only going to add to what I am doing.”

Known for her creatively hand-painted silk chiffons, batiks and tie-dye, this was the first year Jones showed at Lévé, an annual tourism-centred gathering by invitation only, aimed at showcasing the work of local creatives in various spheres. It is the brainchild of economic strategist and tourism activist Dr Auliana Poon.


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