Jamaica News: The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is redesigning and rebuilding Jamaica’s fashion future, through the development of the local talent in the industry.
The agency has implemented a fashion programme, dubbed ‘Irie Magic Fashion Fusion’, which highlights the works of nine local emerging designers and recent Edna Manley College graduates.
Through the programme the designers are also being mentored and prepared to operate sustainable businesses with strong design identities and brand presence as an entrepreneur.
Speaking with JIS News at the recent launch of Irie Magic Fashion Fusion Plus at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, Chief Executive Officer at the JBDC, Valerie Veira, said the agency has a big vision to highlight and promote the development of small businesses, especially the fashion industry.
She noted that development of the fashion industry has always been a core objective of the JBDC since the early 2000s, and through the JBDC’s efforts in the industry, many designers have participated in local and international fashion-related events, trade shows and business.
“It is within this context that the JBDC is re-energising its fashion programme with its Irie Magic concept, which endeavours to prepare the new generation of designers to operate sustainable businesses,” Mrs. Veira said.
“We are aware of the small entrepreneurs, their skills and contribution to the economy, so we want to nurture this growth and guide them on to the global market with the ideas,” she added.
Manager, Technical Services at the JBDC, Colin Porter, explained that the concept was designed to provide market exposure to the fashion programmes, and specifically to the participating designers.
“All participants in the programme got the chance to display their pieces during Style Week and highlight the exposure of JBDC’s support to the small business and the fashion industry,” Mr. Porter added.
He noted that the JBDC is there to help small businesses, and encourages persons to visit the agency to get the information as well as share ideas on how the entity can improve its offerings.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, congratulated the JBDC on the successful execution of the launch.
She said Irie Magic will serve as an encouragement to creative persons and enable the development of the fashion industry.
“Through this activity, we are bringing form to the fashion industry by way of designer mentorship programmes and product-development training,” Miss Grange argued.
She said there is a shift in consumer appetites and the JBDC fashion development programme is sharpening the designer’s entrepreneurial skill sets and business acumen to meet the desires of the potential clients, and, by extension, the industry.
“People want convenience, a great price, quality, novel designs and their designs on time. It is imperative that our designers are equipped to be able to maintain the appetite of buyers of Jamaican fashion, especially in this evolving global fashion ecosystem where it is predicted that in 2018, half of the world’s apparel and footwear will not originate in North America and Europe,” Miss Grange said.
She further noted that the JBDC is uniquely positioned to bolster production capacity for the designers, improve their business strategies and formalise things for overseas opportunities through the Irie Magic programme.
“I can think of international superstars, like Ralph Lauren, who have used Jamaica as an inspiration for their Spring/Summer collection for this year,” Miss Grange said.
She said with help from the JBDC, local designers will soon have their clothes on the international market.
Moses Fennel, who is now a firefighter at the Norman Manley International Airport, is one of the standout designers among the nine Irie Magic participants. He said the training he has received from the JBDC is giving him an opportunity to live his dream.
He said that since he has enrolled in the JBDC fashion designer programme, the experience has given him a new perspective about business development.
“The workshops at JBDC have broadened my knowledge and have really helped me to understand the value of my designs and how to convert my skill into a brand and how to make money from it.
The class is ongoing, and we have learnt a lot about collection development process, costing for the international and local markets, and business acumen as a designer, which includes marketing strategies, catalogues and entrepreneurship,” he added.
“Fashion is my passion; it’s the only thing that occupies my mind… so even while I did my duties at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, I still went and got additional training. I went to Garmex (HEART Trust/NTA Garmex Academy) to study for a diploma in Fashion Design and Technology, and from there other opportunities came up, including this Irie Magic show,” he noted.
Mr. Fennel said he wants to transition from firefighting to fashion designing. “My aim is to have a global brand, providing ball gowns to females, and this is becoming more of a reality with the JBDC influence,” he told JIS News.
Source: JIS News