By Erin Powell
Haiti isn’t typically seen as a source of high-end fashion, but it may be on a path to success down that avenue in the future. Almost three dozen designers showcased their creations at a four-day “Haiti Fashion Week 2012” event held in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, from Nov. 8 to 11. The event was a significant accomplishment for the country in light of its recovery from the 2010 earthquake and political instability. Is this finally a step to higher ground for Haiti?
Absolutely. While the county continues to gradually rebuild from the earthquake and the most recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy, the event provided an opportunity for the international community to view Haiti as not just an impoverished nation but as a center of influential fashion cultivation. Socrates McKinney, a designer from the Dominican Republic, said Haiti has “a very strong culture, and that in some sense has to be reflected in the fashion.”
In order to aid the country’s reconstruction efforts, organizers of the show hoped it would help revitalize the nation’s fashion and apparel industry while bringing in revenue from international buyers. According to the International Business Times, some of the buyer markets include those in the United States, France, England, Japan, Switzerland, Argentina, and Barbados.
Many designers saw the show as a success for the still-developing country trying to compete in the big leagues. Not only did the event bring fresh attention to the country where corruption, disease and poverty are ubiquitous, but it served as a way for Haitians to have pride in their nation while benefiting from the economic gains that the show’s revenue brought.
The show was coordinated by both the Haitian Support Center for the Promotion of Enterprise (Centre Haïtien d’Appui et de Promotion d’Entreprise – COPE) and the Haitian Network of Designers (HAND). It also included support from the European Union and the Haitian Ministry of Culture’s European Programme of Support to Strengthen Culture and Art for the Economic and Social Development of Haiti (ARCADES).
The event brought members of the Haitian community together and provided a platform for networking in the industry. Haitian singers Emeline Michel and James Germain performed while designers such as Maguy Durcé, David André, Phelicia Dell, Fahimy Hakim, and Miko Guillaume participated.
Haiti already boasts a few prominent designers. Native-born brothers Patrick and Fabrice Tardieu created Bogosse in 2004, an apparel line that worked its way up to become a leading global brand name in high-end menswear. If the fashion week event is re-created each year and continues to be a success, the residual effects could advance Haiti’s economy and cultural presence tenfold in years to come. The country’s fashion industry could expand and grow, serving as a source for infrastructure rebuilding and organization. Much like the mobile money initiative that is currently aiding the country’s financial sector, fashion might serve as the end to deficiency and distress in Haiti.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anna Fischer through a Creative Commons license.