The world is having a #Bollywoodmoment and the Caribbean fashion and beauty industry is ready.
As the fashion world moves to deepen its relationship with India and its luxury market fuelled by the Indian mega rich, as seen by Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 showing in Mumbai in March, Indian culture and aesthetic is no stranger to the Caribbean fashion industry.
During the colonial era from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, Indians were introduced to the Caribbean landscape by the Europeans. Brought in as indentured labourers, the Jahaji’s brought with them their rich culture and dress that has made up part of the traditional aesthetic of the Caribbean fashion industry. Moving away from Indian-wear being specific to cultural events, over the last few years, particularly among millennials and Gen-Z, there is a re-introduction of traditional Indian wear as a lifestyle.
Recognising a need for Indian-wear that reflects the Indo-Caribbean consumer. Young Caribbean designers have responded to the market by providing, an Indian Caribbean cross-cultural interplay #CaribbeanBollywood. This Indo-Caribbean wear aesthetic yielded collections that has adapted traditional shapes and material techniques to the needs of the Caribbean. From light weight fabrics that suits the climate and details and trimmings creating a look and feel that’s purely Indo-Caribbean. Using the silhouettes of lehengas and saris, designers are creating elaborate wedding and evening wear, and ready-to-wear with traditional draping and pleating to embroidery and beading meeting the demands of the island vibes.
The Indian-wear industry has been steadily growing in the Caribbean, since the introduction of major trade shows and expositions in the mid 2000s, along with the establishment of designer boutiques. This demand has been sustained by the Indo-Caribbean population not only maintaining their culture, but by pushing to ensure that it becomes mainstream.
With young Caribbean designers, working to not only master the art of traditional Indian wear, but innovating to meet the demands of the Caribbean millennial and Gen-Z market, who want a modern yet practical take on their heritage, with a unique perspective to bring to the fashion world. Advocates like Trinidadian born, Danna Seepersad, TT representative at the Miss India Worldwide 2023, is taking Indo-Caribbean fashion to the world in a fun and exciting way, through pageantry. Miss Miss India Worldwide 2023 takes place from June13-19.
“Growing up my mother exposed us to different cultures as we live in a multi-cultural society, but I gravitated towards traditional east Indian culture. I fell in love with classical dancing and of course the fashion,” Seepersad said cheerfully. “From there I decided to take part in the Miss India Worldwide Pageant. The pageant focuses on the classical Indian styles, and kept to the modesty of the tradition, which was important for me,” she added.
Seepersad is expected to represent the Caribbean in India next month, wearing designs from Caribbean designer Neha Karina and styled by the professional glam duo of Salonmuse868 Arun and Darrel.
It’s been refreshing to see the younger generation re-introduce traditional styles and silhouettes into their everyday wardrobe and come forward to show the Caribbean’s unique cultural perspective to the world. Seepersad concluded, “Connection is the energy we feel within ourselves and our culture. Only when we connect with our ancestral history we can understand the purity and divinity of who we are”
Cherise Singh is a global fashion marketing, public relations and social media strategist, holistic health and wellness coach, keto, yogic and intermittent fasting coach and body contouring specialist.