Last Sunday I left for Trinidad and Tobago to review a pop-up shop hosted by Emma Forster Hiscock, Stephanie Rydle and Ain Earle. Their event, Racked TT is a fashion market, which brings together seasoned and emerging Trinidadian designers for the purpose of retail sales in a boutique-styled tea room.

Nestled in Rust Street, St Clair, The Verandah was home to the first ever Racked TT. Fashion events in the Caribbean are usually associated with terms such as entertainment and frivolous so I don’t get my hopes up too high. However, I was a pleasantly surprised when I walked up the staircase into the tea room and was greeted with noisy fashion conversations and women drooling over clothes like it was food in a famine. These women were obviously enjoying interacting and I wanted to find out what this ground-breaking difference was.

With years and years of North American and European fashion penetrating our Caribbean region, shopping local is not something Caribbean people tend to do often. North America and European trends have also even influenced the work of our local designers.

20140712LOGO2So what was it that made Racked TT so special? Were persons just curious about the designers or over the branding of the event? Who were these newbies proclaiming themselves as being the fashion future of Trinidad and Tobago? Disposable income aside, the event drew a mixture of various designers from different price points. Anyone who was there could have afforded to buy something. Some designers fit in, some were just there with no particular agenda. I guess this was a strategy to pull an even bigger crowd. I will elaborate more on my views of each designer on as I am limited for space here.

The formula Racked TT used to garner success was an appropriate mixture of visual images, topped with strategic social marketing and an exceptional ambiance. In terms of events I have been to before in the Caribbean, I have never honestly been tempted to go because of a flyer I saw. Racked TT’s artwork was a complete representation of fashion desire. It was as calling as a Net-a-Porter further reduction sale. The mixture of colours, the detailing, the effective management of the event aesthetic throughout most promotional material was exceptional. It did not seem like a one-night stand event, but something to stay and be developed

Though this should be something normal in the Caribbean region, no fashion event has every really grasped the true essence of branding with the exception of Dominicana Moda. Apart from the visuals, Racked TT understood that pulling of designers from different price points was necessary to attract a crowd that would do referral marketing.

Ain Earle, Ashma John and Emma Forster-Hiscock
Ain Earle, Ashma John and Emma Forster-Hiscock

It is this crowd that will now let others know that Meiling introduced her diffusion line TEAM M and it was really worth the go; that there were free cocktails not to mention free entrance. Smart move. However, I think there is need to monitor quality control carefully now that the brand is already out there.

The ambiance was set right with a sensational playlist awakening the right moods to make you shop. Almost as if someone had worked some form of fashion obeah on you.

Racked TT delivered for the most part but the most interesting thing to see and appreciate, was the shift from frivolous fashion entertainment to actual business happening at a fashion event in the Caribbean. I did not leave thinking who is going to buy that? Most pieces were marketable and desirable. This is the start and serves as the blue print for retail development for the regional fashion industry. There is still a lot left to be done and monitored to improve over the years to come. However, the seed has been planted. Congrats Racked TT.

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