Known for its picturesque architecture, award-winning culinary landscape and stunning natural ecosystem, topography and wildlife, the Caribbean is rich in cultural richness; rooted in a different story that influences every fabric of eclectic lifestyles on a daily basis.
Beyond the world famous slogan of “sun, sea and sand”, however, this region boasts of a fourth “s”: style.
The Caribbean fashion industry has spawned legendary talent over the decades. Oscar De La Renta of the Dominican Republic, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Haiti by Pyer Moss based in New York and Barbados-born entertainer turned fashion and beauty mogul (and national hero!), Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty are just a few of those big names on the radar. It’s a clear indicator that the proof of our fashion success has been in (Jamaican cornmeal) pudding – and with good reason.
With talent from the region repeatedly disrupting the fashion scene around the world, here’s a look at 5 Caribbean designers who are on our fashion list, ready for global industry domination and celebrity partnerships, all coming up on one walkway or closet near you.
Treflè Designs – British Virgin Islands
Having arguably the greatest living entertainer requesting samples of your swimsuit isn’t an accomplishment that many designers can add to their resume. That seemingly impossible feat was exactly what Tortola stylist Kristin Frazer was able to achieve in 2014, when Beyoncé appeared in a series of glamorous photos while on a Mediterranean vacation wearing a stunning 2-piece swimsuit from the label by Frazer, Treflè Designs.
Since then, Treflè has presented numerous international opportunities, including the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil for Team BVI and a partnership with Verizon for personalized phone cases in over 2200 stores in the United States. Frazer’s delightful aesthetic design incorporates original Caribbean inspired fabrics and prints, and his collections include sizes, 2 to 24.
When it comes to excellence in bridal wear, Bahamian bespoke designer Phylicia Ellis is definitely becoming a Caribbean style MVP. The award-winning fashionista has a simple strict ethic: “Fashion has no rules once there is style.” From intricately hand-placed beading to luxurious lace, her collections are inspired by the natural curves of island women who wish to complement these figures with flattering, modern and memorable pieces.
No wonder Nassau’s Ellis went wildly viral on social media on blogging platforms like The Shade Room and praised by YouTuber and choreographer Aliya Janell Brison recently for her glamorous designs – thrilling global fashion aficionados. with its classic timeless dresses.
Here is a fashion ode to the eternal wanderlust who isn’t afraid to stand out. Originally from the beautiful island of Jamaica, the Jae Jolly design house has attracted the attention of numerous influencers and celebrities, most recently American actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, who was spotted wearing a surprising number of orange jumpsuits while in vacation on the island with her husband, NBA giant Dwayne Wade.
The latest ready-to-wear collection Resort 2020 by Janel Jolly, called San Basilio, is inspired by the Palenqueras – colorfully dressed Afro-Colombian women who sell fruit in the main squares of Cartagena and are known descendants of the first freed African slaves from Congo, Africa. Bold colors, clean lines and hints of tousled detail are the order of the day for the Jae Jolly brand, which also dabbles in gorgeous swimwear options and on-trend accessories.
ADRIAN FOSTER – Trinidad and Tobago
A sober marriage between simplicity and effectiveness is the formidable point of view for the women’s clothing designer ADRIAN FOSTER. After graduating from the Caribbean Academy of Fashion & Design, Foster uses his deep technical knowledge to apply clean, modern lines to play with the silhouettes of his collection, effortlessly highlighting the sexy in his clients.
In the Caribbean fashion scene that often bursts with color, Foster’s designs are a refreshing take back to monochromatic palates with touches of hue that have been well received during window displays at New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week respectively. From rompers to pocket briefs, minimalism with the intentional use of texture makes an ADRIAN FOSTER garment a practical and essential purchase in any wardrobe for the woman on the go.
Born in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, to a mother and father who own a clothing store, David André has had life experiences in the field of fashion. After training in one of the most prestigious design schools on his native island, he traveled to Paris, France to perfect the art of pattern making and drapery.
With a 100% Haitian production, the David André collections reflect the enchanting creative scene and the flamboyant flair of Haitian culture. It is heavily influenced by French history and uses cottons and linens to offer consumers quality garments at an affordable price. The famed designer caters to both men and women for his pieces, ranging from bridal, to costume, to resort. To date, David André Collections has appeared on the BBC and is available in boutiques in Martinique, Guadeloupe and other regional locations. In addition, the fashion house graced the international runways of Dominican Fashion and Berlin Fashion Week, among others.