I have been bombarded by pictures on my Facebook timeline of women decked out in their Golden Arrowhead dresses. While I love my country and all, I honestly don’t want to see Guyana’s flag again anytime soon.
There was an overkill of the arrowhead concept design for the 50th. However, while I will view it as overkill, what we observed was probably the most interest in local fashion and its stakeholders for a very long time.
The milestone celebration and the excitement the Golden Jubilee garnered, I believe, was the main motivator behind most on the support for locally made garments. It is quite unfortunate that we can’t see this type of support for the locally produced fashion every day. One is left to question why this type of backing for locally produced goods isn’t seen more often. Why do we opt for imported clothing and why is support for local designers such an event-specific thing and not a lifestyle?
As I attempt to answer some of the questions, I do appreciate that our 50th Independence celebration was an observation that most Guyanese would be able relate to. We must also understand that we won’t necessarily see the rest of the world going crazy for an arrowhead dress. The need for such clothes can be classified as niche. It is my belief the people spend less on locally made garments for the following reasons:
Sewing clothes can be considered pricey in comparison to buying retail on Regent Street. On average, a top can cost somewhere between two to three thousand dollars. When compared to sewing, the workmanship alone can cost just about that. Most consumers are naturally frugal and they will opt for something that seems like better value for money.
We are a generation that is fond of immediacy. This is essentially why fast fashion exists and does extremely well. Consumers are discouraged by waiting periods for locally made garments. It is much easier and more satisfying to buy now and take home as opposed to wanting something and waiting for it. Most designers also don’t produce on an economies of scale basis because of low demands.
For most designers, production is done manually, mostly by the designer themselves this results in everything being time consuming. When accessibility becomes difficult the hedonic stimulants for shopping are decreased which makes it easier for the consumer to opt out.
The gamble fit
There is a huge gamble when one entrusts a design commission on a designer or seamstress. There could be issues with how the clothing fits, whether the design will be faithfully replicated, and whether the clothing will be ready at the designated time.
This is a serious gamble and one which many would not take given the fact that the consumer is now spoilt for choice.
The support for local designers and fashion in Guyana during the Jubilee celebrations can be seen as an inflated hype for the festivities. While it may be perceived that a thriving industry exists, the truth is consumers are still not buying locally produced fashion as much as they buy imported goods.
The support for local fashion is also continually influenced by the consumer’s exposure. More locals are now afforded the opportunity to travel and even more are choosing to shop online.
Essentially, creatives should be asking themselves, how they can keep consumers interested, as events like the jubilee only come around once. They will need to study the market better to find loopholes where they can capitalize. I think this is something that many don’t do.
I don’t have too much to say on the collections that I came across, but my highlight from everything was seeing Minister Cathy Hughes on the runway in a local designer’s piece. I have always advocated that there needs to be more support and this was lovely to see. However, like the excitement of the Jubilee collections, let hope it doesn’t end here.