The possibility of raising a Carnival costume production industry here is one which needs serious attention.
And this is in the context of the desperate need to build-out a non-energy economic engine as a step along the road to spreading growth away from dependence on one sector.
The makings of such an industry were put forward in yesterday’s edition of the Business Guardian by two relatively young leaders in fashion and design and the production of mas costumes, swim wear and other sports-type wear.
The ideas of Anna White and Christopher Nathan range through the recycling of Carnival costumes and a return to having them made by local seamstresses and tailors. Of some note too, is the thought to restart the fabric-making factories which can then feed into local garment manufacturing.
Indigenous cloth-weaving and garment manufacturing were overtaken by more competitive and easily accessed imported clothing. There were too, industrial problems which compounded the challenges to compete against name-brand manufacturers. However, there are always ways and means to counter such hurdles.
On the supply side of the current “Made in China” Carnival imports, there have been consistent difficulties in getting costumes here in time and appropriately made.
Vitally important to the potential benefits which can come out of producing costumes and other Carnival-type apparel locally will be the foreign exchange saved.
The critical factor in all the planning is the ready availability of a market for the products used during the Carnival season.
There is no researched estimate that we know of regarding the number of costumes and other stylish clothing worn by masqueraders, feters and spectators during the Carnival season. A good guess will be hundreds of thousands. Additionally, and as suggested by the designers-producers, T&T can emerge as the source for Carnival costumes and more for the festivals around the region. If we take the thinking further, supplying the Caribbean-created Carnivals in North America amongst our own people can surely be an additional ambition.
Encouragingly, the local production of costumes and garments by our established manufacturing sector is a thought raised by Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon.
What is also excellent about the ideas being offered is they are coming from a seemingly new breed of entrepreneurs able to perceive of their world differently from status quo thinking. Young people with ideas and energy need to be listened too and encouraged; they are the future.
Of importance too is the suggestion to utilise the fashion production facility at the University of T&T in this multi-layered thought.
These are early fragments of developing an industry in times of the desperate need to spread and create new economic activity. Moreover, the thinking along the lines of fabricating finished products for local consumption and the possibility of spawning an export industry are too rich and enticing to ignore.
Our country and society are flooded with young people looking for direction, jobs to achieve their ambitions and to keep them living constructively.
For a long time now, we have talked about the creative industry as a source of growth; it’s on our doorstep to explore.