Barbadian fashion designers participate in Business of Fashion workshop

Avis Charles (right), fashion consultant and creative director, examines the piece created by workshop participant Rosita Hunte


For sixteen fashion designers and design trainers in Barbados, the dream of being global industry leaders is a little closer to becoming a reality. They recently completed a workshop led by international fashion consultant and creative director, Avis Charles. The event, which took place at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, took the participants through the fundamentals of design, developing their unique selling point, and the business techniques needed to be successful in the fashion industry.

The workshop took place from September 10 to 24, and was part of a Train-the-Trainers Programme in Fashion Design and Business Management Project, funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and executed by the Barbados Investment Development Corporation (BIDC).

In addition to learning how to create a cost and pricing system; better understand trends in fabrics, colours and shapes; and marketing and brand creation,  participants were also asked to design and showcase an individual piece.

What we wanted to be able to achieve at the end of this thing is individuality. So even though you have eight designers in a room, they all have their unique selling point, and know exactly how they are going to market,” said Charles.

Participants agreed that the knowledge gained in the workshop was valuable. For fashion designer Rosita Hunte, the focus on the business aspect of the fashion industry was particularly useful.

For me, the exposure to what is available has been my takeaway, and also the exposure, how we ought to do business, how we ought to think about business, not just think about the small island concept but the fact that even though we may be a little small island we need to start thinking global. So they have brought that to the table even in how we ought to design, we are not designing for the Barbados market, but we are designing for an international market.”

The Project, of which the workshop formed part, aims to increase competitiveness among fashion designers in Barbados, as well as enhance the Fashion Design programme at the Barbados Community College, and the Garment Technology and Garment Making Programmes at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology and Barbados Vocational Training Board respectively. Eight students from these training institutions participated in the workshop.

 “CDB remains committed to supporting the creative industries. We recognize the role these industries play not only towards economic diversification but also in job creation, primarily for youth and women,” said Lisa Harding, MSME Coordinator, CDB. Harding noted that youth unemployment rates in the Region are among the highest in the world, with rates as high as 40 percent in some of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries.

 “This programme is intended to enhance the skills of the designers, entrepreneurs, fashion design and garment making trainers. They in turn will produce quality garments for export and share these improved skills and knowledge with future groups of aspiring entrepreneurs and fashion designers,” said Sonja Trotman, CEO, BIDC.

CDB provided financing of USD54,000 for the Project. Additional elements included a half-day seminar on the Business of Fashion, which was held on September 17 and targeted key stakeholders including policy makers, business support organisations, and representatives from finance institutions.