On a mission to introduce the youths to the authentic beauty of TT, Calvin French launched YOU, a digital magazine. The new magazine is dedicated to bringing together the very best in Caribbean fashion, style, lifestyle and entertainment. According to French, it highlights “the talent and creativity of the new generation of Caribbean designers.”
The TT-born photographer, grew up in Claxton Bay and at the age of 14, migrated to Canada where he pursued modelling in the fashion industry. He got into photography after moving to New York, working with magazines like GQ and LuomoVogue. He returned to TT after 25 years.
“I have been around the world, from South Africa to Seychelles, I have seen beauty and it is amazing but nothing comes close to the Trinidad I left as a child,” French said.
He found beauty in most things Trinbagonian like the Forres Park Estate, often observing the sunset as he journeyed from San Fernando to Port of Spain. “In my life I boasted of TT and its fabulous countryside but when I returned after 25 years the country had changes significantly, murders were everyday headlines and people lost respect for each other. We have become a very angry group of people.”
This jolted the creative spark in French to create an online magazine that would highlight the vintage yet classic beauty of Trinbagonians through his eyes. The magazine captures the Caribbean aesthetic under various themes: Boll’ face style, the Cosquel You and The New Race: Dougla.
And on October 5, Vas Lounge at Rust Street in St Clair was turned into an international runway, with the verifiable who’s who’s of TT in attendance.
Athlete Jehue Gordon and cricket star Darren Ganga were among the crowd which composed of models, veteran and budding fashion designers and media.
Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam graced YOU’s first issue, dressed in a bouquet of anthurium flowers, with French setting the photo’s background at a beach in North Coast, Trinidad.
“I am honoured to be his first cover model. This magazine is going to do phenomenally well as it embodies both chic and easy. Calvin is presenting us (TT) well,” Fitzwilliam said at the launch.
For some, French’s magazine is a launching pad into a career long dreamed of, such as Shane Valley, one of the featured male models who hopes to gain exposure with the magazine’s launch.
YOU targets the Caribbean diaspora. “It can be easily accessed online and is geared towards both regional and international people. Even tourists who are travelling to the Caribbean can view this magazine to get a more well-shaped idea of TT,” said Brian Matthew, the magazine’s creative director.
He explained that online publishing was a great platform to reach people in various parts of the world. “We are also using social media, Google ads and Instagram ads to further push the magazine.”
Its market is even further segmented, French said, recaching out to, particularly “18-35 and even 40-year-olds can find something that intrigues them in this magazine as it incorporates aspects of TT’s culture.”
Contributors to the magazine include French, fashion designer Peter Elias, creative director Brian Matthew, hairstylist Bally, make-up artiste Kirk Thomas, choreographer Nigel Celestine and international photographer Kerron Riley.
Rust Street heard a resounding applause as the picturesque magazine was displayed page by page on large television screens and a projector.
The magazine highlighted notable TT athletes Gordon, Njisane Philip and Andrew Lewis in Dazza, Ganga’s luxury menswear clothing label.
Caribbean fashion designer Saleem Samuel found the magazine was powerful and inspirational to young people. “The magazine features a lot of talent which TT has to offer,” Samuel said. Soca artiste, 5Star Akil who performed at the launch was also featured in the magazine.
French explained that YOU is here to promote and share TT to the world. “Globally fashion is sexy, sensual and youthful, so we see a bit of this in the magazine as well.”
Ain Earle, founder of the Fashion Arch; a brand consulting entity that assists designers with their branding said that French featured phenomenal pictures of culture, fashion and food which are synonymous with TT. “His talent has no bounds and I congratulate him on his achievement.”
Many guests were already looking forward to YOU’s second issue in January 2018. French said the upcoming magazine would be about cruising in the Caribbean.
YOU magazine can be viewed for free at news stand.joomag.com.