Trinidad and Tobago's Shane Ramnarine is making a significant impact on the international fashion stage with his brand, 11 Threads Roma.
Ramnarine, originally from Marabella, had his designs featured during New York Fashion Week which was held September 7-13. He presented at Sony Hall, 235 W 46th Street, Manhattan, New York, NY, on the opening night of Runway 7 Spring/Summer 2024 Collections showings on September 7..
His collection embodied sophistication, edginess, and a distinct Caribbean/Trinidadian flair with its vibrant colours, tropical prints, and playful accessories.
While he always loved fashion, Ramnarine’s fascination with the industry deepened when he relocated to Miami in early 2020 due to his job with a sugar trading company. He now manages its Caribbean operations.
In Miami, a city he says is known as the fashion capital of swimsuits, he was determined to expand his fashion skills and eagerly learned to sew.
“This new-found knowledge combined with my background in (Trinidad) Carnival design propelled me towards creating swimwear collections that perfectly captured the essence of the beach, sun, and luxury,” he told Newsday in a phone interview.
He poured his heart and soul into crafting a swim and resort wear collection that would turn heads and make a lasting impression. This dedication led to his debut at NY Fashion Week, where he showcased swim and resort wear as well as Carnival costumes. Appearing at NYFW, was the fulfilment of a dream.
“As a creative soul with a passion for fashion, attending this prestigious event has been a dream come true for me.
“Stepping into the world of NYFW was an experience beyond words. The atmosphere was electric, buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Everywhere I turned, I found myself surrounded by fashion icons, designers, models, and influencers who shared the same passion for the art of style. It was awe-inspiring to witness the creativity and innovation that unfolded on the runways. Each designer’s unique perspective showcased a kaleidoscope of colours, textures, and silhouettes. I couldn't help but feel humbled and motivated to showcase my own collection, eager to contribute my creative voice to the vibrant fashion landscape.”
Ramnarine designed his first piece six years ago for Caribana in Toronto, an event, he says, that is close to his heart. He went on to design carnival events in Trinidad, Jamaica, and St Lucia.
When the time came for him to present at NYFW he was both excited and nervous.
"A wave of nervous anticipation washed over me. Would my designs be well-received? Would they resonate with the audience? These questions swirled in my mind, but I knew that my dedication and passion would shine through.
"Stepping onto the runway, I felt a surge of confidence. The models gracefully showcased my swim, resort wear creations and carnival costumes, embodying the essence of my brand, 11 Threads Roma. The audience and media’s reactions were incredible – gasps of delight and applause filled the venue, validating all the hard work and dedication.”
Ramnarine’s collection included four carnival pieces.
“The response to those pieces was nothing short of amazing. I drew inspiration from my cultural heritage, infusing each design with a unique Caribbean flair. This authenticity set my collection apart and has garnered recognition within the industry.”
He is confident the showing has opened up a world of opportunity for him to grow and expand in the industry.
“Being a part of NYFW not only allowed me to showcase my talent, it provided an invaluable platform to network with industry professionals, establish connections, and gain recognition for my work. By pushing the boundaries of swim and resort wear, I challenged traditional norms and brought a fresh perspective to the runway. The positive feedback, collaborations, and partnerships that followed NYFW further affirmed that I was making a mark in the industry.”
What inspired his brand name 11 Threads Roma?
“The number 11 has been a very lucky number for me since I moved to the United States and it just follows me everywhere so I came up with the name 11 Threads Roma – Roma because Italy is associated with great quality, standards, sophistication and style, and my business partner is Italian so I just thought that would be a good fit for the brand. For NYFW everyone referred to us as the Italian brand, which is good for the business.”
Recalling the unexpected offer for him to present his collection he said, “When I received the call to showcase my collection in late July I was in Trinidad doing a fashion shoot. As I listened to the voice on the other end, informing me about the opportunity to showcase my collection at NYFW, a rush of emotions flooded over me. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was overwhelmed with a mix of joy, nerves, and shock.”
Designers usually have a year to prepare for this prestigious event, but Ramnarine found himself with only one month to create an unforgettable showcase.
“With determination and a passion for fashion, I embarked on a whirlwind journey to bring my vision to life, I was determined not to let the limited timeframe dampen my spirits.”
The first step in bringing his collection to life was sourcing the perfect fabric. The next day, he headed to Jimmy Aboud store in Port of Spain, to select fabrics that would embody the essence of his designs.
“The fabric became the foundation of my collection which included trendy vinyl, chiffon, and metallics – it had to captivate the audience’s attention. With every touch and texture, I wanted to convey a sense of luxury and sophistication.”
His inspiration also drew heavily from Italy, infusing Italian style, sophistication, and craftsmanship with a Caribbean twist. He succeeded as he left many in awe of his designs.
Ramnarine said being a part of the fashion industry can be incredibly challenging, especially when one comes from a small Caribbean island that is relatively unknown in the fashion world.
“The fashion industry is undoubtedly one of the most competitive industries in the world with countless individuals aspiring to make their mark as designers. It can be overwhelming to find your own unique voice and stand out from the crowd.
“As an aspiring designer from Trinidad, I faced numerous challenges right from the start. Many doors closed on me, both locally and internationally. The lack of recognition for my island’s fashion industry, along with stiff competition, made it difficult to breakthrough. However, I firmly believe that persistence is the key to success above all, now that the fashion industry is recognising and embracing diversity.”
What’s in the future for Ramnarine?
His goal is to present his creations at next year’s Milan Fashion Week.
“As a fashion brand, it is essential to align our business with events that resonate with our vision and aesthetic. The Italian influence in the fashion industry is undeniable, making Milan Fashion Week the perfect next step for us. Collaborating with my Italian business partner Luca DiBerardino, we aim to leverage the unique opportunities presented during NYFW to establish our brand. It allows us to tap into the rich Italian fashion heritage, access Italian craftsmanship, and establish meaningful connections within the industry. NYFW lays the foundation, but Milan Fashion Week propels us to new heights.”
Ramnarine thanked his supporters, friends, family, his brother, parents and business partner Luca, Runway 7 Fashion in New York, Debra Otway, Tracy and Maria Julien, Jimmy Aboud store ,and everyone who made his NYFW debut possible.
What advice does he have for local designers who are hoping to breakthrough in the industry?
“As an up-and-coming designer, staying true to your aesthetic while being receptive to constructive criticism is crucial for your growth and success. By finding your unique voice, embracing feedback, and emphasising your experience, expertise, authority, and trust, you can establish yourself as a sought-after designer in the industry. Remember to embrace the challenges, keep evolving, and above all, enjoy the journey of bringing your creative visions to life.”