RUNWAY ROBBERY, TOMMY HILFIGER VS JAMAICA?
This is Jamaica, beautiful land, vibrant culture and outspoken people. Well, said people have spoken and I like to think of myself as a man of the people, a waver of the Jamaican national flag – Strong, proud and mighty. My New York Fashion week edit of the Tommy Hilfiger SS”16 collection has sparked riveting debates on and off social media and in the true sense of why I started this site, I’m deciding not to ignore the people who helps me keep the lights on and give them what they want, hopefully.
A reader of the TH collection entry who I’ll name DB made a cheeky and short comment on my facebook about ignorance. In the true nature of a provocateur I encouraged her to speak her mind and DB sure did. Now let’s jump right in…
WHERE I'M COMING FROM... Now, I did not aim to start a conversation to argue, worst to defend Hilfiger's discriminatory ways (racial and other). I've worked in Jamaican Fashion as a buyer, merchandiser and designer for over 5 years. From working the racks of high end retail store KERRY manwomanhome as a salesman and designer to assuming the role of exhibitions marketer at MARKET AT THE LAWN, my experience is wide and varied. With all that jazz I believe I have a good idea on how and what we create, what we think sells and what actually sells.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TH’S DISPLAY?
1. In Jamaica we love to jump the gun. The Tommy Hilfiger show took 5 months to create a platform from which to display a one hour catwalk show (See here). Every year we give the ok to our ‘pop-up’ fashion weeks and their unplanned, visionless shows that cost as much as Monique Lhullier at Bryant Park. After which we sell these pop-down stories to our international invited editors, continuing to kill our own fashion culture year after year. Tommy and most -if not all other- actual Fashion Week exhibitors take time to formulate their platforms, collections and marketing. We need to be obsessed with that same concept of perfection and standard.
2. You can’t win a debate with a Parisian if you non Parle Vous Francais and you can’t get into your man’s phone without his password. We now have the code; Tommy Just narrated to us how Jamaica comes up in the Global fashion conversation. And yes I do understand the concept of appropriation and that that’s exactly the case at hand, but what are we going to do about it? I’d like to think that Style Week, CFW and Collection Moda has good intentions. However their staging’s year after year has done nothing but ground us deeper in this illusion that we’re a working industry. We are not. But now that we have the code, we need to remake his ‘granny frocks’ with a little more blaze, attitude and Jamaicaness and wheel and come again. Let’s ‘knock him off’… not really, well, you get what I’m saying.
SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER? Our culture is here for the taking so if we continuously ignore our closest influences and resources how are we to blame anyone who chooses to use it. 'Jamaicaness' is not mama's fine china cup that no one must use but everyone can view. We are a part of the world, we are a part of 70's bohemian chic, Urban Island chic and a host of other made-up generalized style types. We are a part of these things MOSTLY because of the foreigners who came here and defined our place in the zeitgeist through their documentaries, music videos, movies or fantastical tales to their influential friends on the Almafi Coast over bubbly. We never had the chance back then to control our narrative but with 2015 technology we are finally able to be a part of that conversation. My blog have always covered local fashion, this is literally my first foray into an International fashion week coverage. We are always quick to assume a combative position on things we dislike then play hypocrites to things we say we do and we say we support. Consider this a call to action to actually make good on your word. Next time you want to buy a piece of apparel and or accessory just shoot me a quick message of what you’re looking for and I’ll find it for you – locally made, designed and sold!
So whether or not we want to accept that there are lessons to learn from Tommy Hilfgier’s latest collection the fact still remains that there is. Feel free to disagree with me.