Tag Archives: caribbean fashion blog

The Trop Shop: Bringing Caribbean Designers and Shoppers Together

 

You may know Leah Marville as a former Miss Barbados World, a model, a TV host or a lawyer. But did you know about the innovative fashion business venture she is pursuing?  Leah recently sat down with InMyWardrobe to discuss The Trop Shop.  At first glance, Trop Shop is an e-commerce platform for regional fashion designers and those who want to buy their work but as Leah who is CEO makes clear, it is part of a larger movement aimed at taking Caribbean fashion to the world.

It was officially launched on November 13, 2017 after being in beta testing for about a year.

“The Trop Shop is a fashion movement which is broken down into two major pillars. It’s designed to be a platform for designers and fashion retailers to reach the wider world market through e-commerce, so being able to accept credit card payments, being able to ship their items anywhere in the world. That’s one pillar. Then the second pillar would be creating one online space where you can find the best of Caribbean fashion, for shoppers”.

Leah’s inspiration was two-fold. Trop Shop’s head of marketing Nakita Haynes revealed one push factor.

“She’s been involved in fashion for over 16 years and she would wear a lot of pieces from different Caribbean designers. A lot of people would be asking her ‘where did you get the piece’ and then it would escalate to ‘how can I get the piece’ and then she’d be stuck. There’s no platform where the customer can go and access the product from the designer and also pay for it. So, she saw that there was a need and a niche.”

Secondly, Leah is involved with Fashion Focus, a Trinidad and Tobago-based fashion organisation aimed at bridging the gaps in the regional fashion industry.

“We came to realise that designers are not cultured to sell online. Yes, they have Instagram pages but they aren’t fully prepared to sell online. As we delved further into that we realized that to be able to have a merchant account and create a website to accept credit card payments is an onerous process throughout the entire region. In some countries you can’t even get the information on it,” she explains.

Of course, we all know e-commerce is big business globally, especially as it relates to fashion. Leah didn’t want the Caribbean to be left behind.

“There is no better time to do it than now and there’s no better person because being in fashion for sixteen years, I’ve been in the industry intimately and I can’t see where or who would do it. And then why sit back and wait for somebody else to do it rather than do it yourself?”

At the time of our interview, the work of six designers was available on the Trop Shop including Jin Forde Sweat, Seafrina, Sanianitos, Tropix and Nwannia. Several more were scheduled to come on stream by March and the aim is to also include designers from the French and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

If you’ve ever shipped anything in the region, you know that freight costs and duties can be difficult to manage. Fortunately, the Trop Shop is always working to keep costs as low as possible for both shoppers and designers through Barbadian company RDL Eagle Trade. Currently the Trop Shop subsidizes shipping costs for shoppers while  RDL Eagle educates designers about handling duties.

Education is going to be a bigger part of the Trop Shop if the team has its way.

“We want to become a global e-commerce website like a Fashion Nova but beyond that we want to be a source of education. We have this thing in our camp where we talk about the Trop Shop University where essentially, we want this to be a space where you can come as a designer and as a business owner in fashion and seek direction, actual informed direction from production to shipping to logistics to materials and finance.

So far, the response to The Trop Shop has been good. Leah says a lot of sales come from the diaspora while those in Caribbean take a little longer to purchase. Designers are reaching out weekly and the Trop Shop team is vetting them in an effort to bring them to market.

The Trop Shop will carry everything fashion including accessories and clothing and there are plans to expand into lifestyle products. Fashion entrepreneurs who import Caribbean-made items can also have their store hosted on the site.

Leah wants all those interested in pushing Caribbean fashion to get on board.

“This was barren land so it means that here is a lot of watering that needs to happen, a lot of seed planting. We really do need all hands on deck. In the fashion industry in the past we have been trying to get places individually and it has not worked which is why we don’t have an industry. As small as we are we need to do things collectively.

Trop shop is a movement and we’re calling all fashion enthusiasts, fashion designers, fashion shoppers to join the movement to help take the Caribbean to the rest of the world.”

If you’re a Caribbean fashionpreneur interested in the Trop Shop, contact the team via Instagram page or the website or email  tropshopcaribbean@gmail.com.

“You make your interest known to us and then we start an engagement process. We look at where you’re at as a designer, what your designs are like, what the quality is like. We have to ensure what we put out to the customer is of international standard. We would look at where you are professionally and your ability to supply demand. We know this is a challenge so it is flexible where that is concerned but we just generally engage you with where you’re at and where you want to go.”

 

Easy Ways to Incorporate Ultra Violet into Your Life

You’ve probably heard by now that ultra violet is Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2018. If you’re anything like me you may find it a bit jarring at first glance since it’s a very bold colour. You can get as loud as you want with it if that’s your personality but there are more subtle ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe or beauty routine.

You can even just get an ultra violet phone case or add a purple spritz to your vanity. Remember, the colour will not only guide fashion but design in all its elements. The folks at Pantone also take it a bit deeper. Describing it as a “dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade”, the Pantone Color Institute says it “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future”

“Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection,” the institute said in making the announcement.

So, here are ten items you may want to add to your wardrobe.

Colour of the Year

 Product list

Purple dress
$29 – boohoo.com

Manic Panic NYC face powder
$17 – bluebanana.com

Shiny lipstick
butterlondon.com

Victoria s Secret fragrance
victoriassecret.com

Nail polish
butterlondon.com

 

All the Style Advice You Need To Start A New Year

 
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you probably caught at least a couple pieces of fashion advice during my #12daysofstyletips series in December. I promised to pull all the tips together here and expand on them or share links to previous posts which offer more details. I don’t like breaking promises so that’s what this post is about.

Now regarding the title of this post, it’s bold but also true. Yes, trends will come and go this year. Depending on where you live, temperatures will also change and you will have to reach for different types of clothing from season to season. None of that matters! These tips will work under all circumstances since style is so deeply personal. Each tip can be adapted to suit your own aesthetic.

1. Forget trends. Wear what you like.

There’s nothing wrong with following trends but if you’re not a fan of what’s in, feel free to leave it out. You always rock your outfit more confidently if you truly love it. If you’re not quite sure what you like, here’s how to develop your personal style.

2. Mix and match creatively.

Tried and true colour combos are great when you’re in a rush. If you have lots of time to plan an outfit, don’t be afraid to play with unusual combinations of colours and patterns.  They may go against some of the fashion rules we have in the Caribbean but so what?

3.  Build a cohesive wardrobe.

You will struggle to find something to wear every morning if the different elements in your wardrobe don’t work together. Be sure that any new pieces you can buy can work with at least a few items you already own. Devise your own uniform if necessary.

4.  Learn which colours and styles flatter you.

Learn them then fill your wardrobe with them. Slaying is easy once you only have pieces that look great on you. Is red your colour? Do you look best in flowing silhouettes? Find out. Also, find out why your style game may be struggling.

5. Let your accessories do the work.

Even if you’re not into fancy clothes, your look doesn’t have to be boring. Choose jewellery, shoes, bags and even headpieces that show off your personality and elevate your image.

6. Support local and regional designers.

Support your own! I’m not saying never buy from big global brands but unique clothing and accessories go a long way in setting you apart from the crowd. You can also get pieces made to perfectly fit your body and style. Here are some Barbadian fashion designers from which you can choose.

Shakad Eco Wear

7. Watch out for wardrobe malfunctions.

The last thing you want is to spend an entire day or night making sure what’s supposed to be covered stays covered. Before you buy, walk around in the garment as much as possible and look at it from all angles.  And don’t let anyone tell you to stop looking in the mirror so much before you leave home! See how the outfit is moving around on your body in case you need pins or tape to keep things in place.

8. Be open to new styles.

Sometimes we get stuck in a style rut buying or wearing the same things over and over again. Comfort zones are all well and good but every now and then, try something you’ve never worn before.

9. Wear appropriate foundation garments.

You can ruin a good outfit by wearing the wrong underwear.  Exposed bras or bra straps and visible panty lines are a no-no. When you choose your clothing, make sure you have the correct foundation garments to ensure a flawless look. Check out my What’s Under There? series for loads of tips.

10. Get your clothing tailored to fit.

Clothing will not always fit perfectly straight off the rack. Sleeves or hems may be too long or you may need the waist of a skirt taken in a bit.  Find someone who can alter your pieces so they fit like they were made for you.

11. Take care of your clothes and accessories.

Follow those washing instructions and watch how you store bags, shoes and jewellery. Excessive heat, moisture and sea spray can all cause damage. Even if your pieces are of high quality, neglect can ruin them.  Click this link for tips on how to care for costume jewellery. 

12.  Don’t wait for special occasions.

This final tip is as much life advice as it is style advice. Life is short. Wear the dress, rock the heels and be a little extra if you feel like. People will talk anyway and it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Have a style concern that’s not mentioned here? Comment below or email natasha@inmywardrobebarbados.com and I’ll do my best to help.