Having paid more attention to the Caribbean creative scene in the last few months, when my sister brought home a package from a Trinidadian fashion designer, I was bouncing off of the walls to see exactly what it is she’d bought. Lo and behold, it was the Adrian Foster wrap skirt which I’ve shared an outfit post about here a few posts ago. I sent Adrian an email asking to do a feature interview with him and sat with my fingers crossed in the hopes that he would be open to the idea. I am very happy to say that he was and he also gave me one of the best compliments on my blog that I am yet to receive.
Portrait by Marlon James
How did you get started designing?
My history of designing started at a very young age. As a young boy I was afraid of being caught playing with cousins dolls. So, using my imagination I created my own dolls by drawing them on paper. In some cases I remember cutting them out and mounting them on coconut broom sticks. Having finished playing with them it was easy for me to secretly discard them. Most of my drawings I kept a collection of in sketch books. My mother was the one who supported my artistic ability and as a teen she introduced me to a family friend who was involved in the beauty and pageantry industry locally. Now deceased, Mr. Anthony Mc Farlene also known as ‘Brownie’ was the first to introduce me to this industry where he became my mentor for my amateur designing for a few years until he passed.
I then started doing research on the fashion industry becoming familiar with fashion models, fashion countries and cities, famous designers and celebrities and also understanding that I can actually have a career in fashion by studying fashion design. I was heart-broken however when I found out how expensive it was to study abroad. I almost turned away but luckily at the right time when I finished high-school the University of Trinidad and Tobago launch The Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design both Diploma and Degree programs. I immediately applied. It was perfect! I can study at home where I am still with my family and friends, gaining the right knowledge and enjoy studying what I love.
I always had the intention of becoming a designer. My time at school however quickly changed my mentality in seeing the bigger picture and that I can to quickly settle myself into making honest and life-changing decisions. After graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion and Fine Arts, I went on into fully managing and building my brand and starting my business from home. Now I am beginning to live my dream –
Where do you gather your inspirations for your designs?
Inspiration for any designer can come from almost ANYTHING! But for me I am mainly attracted to rich culture, religion, art and the way people operate on a day-to-day basis.
I love mixing art and fashion. Understanding the core of a subject and re-creating it into something that is fresh and contemporary so that people are still appreciated of the essence of it yet understand its NEW organic form. I love created artistic designs that are wearable, functional and versatile. I believe that’s where understanding human behavior comes in so that the piece is easy to function in a normal day life of activities –
Would you say that being from Trinidad and the Caribbean has directly influenced your design technique and the types of garments that you design?
When I started my business, one of my prime directions was – How do I create or appeal to an audience that is mainly based in the Caribbean. So I went on doing my research and my initial observation was that Caribbean women are not your typical size 2 or 4 models, the majority of women at not 6 ft. This influenced the way I had to design clothing. Paying special attention to design and fit; how can one design work for several body types and still remain flattering. I must say listening to women’s concerns when they dress has helped me in designing –
Do you think there is such a thing as a Caribbean aesthetic? And if yes, how would you describe it?
I do believe such thing exist, but not just in fashion. A Caribbean aesthetic may exist is local architecture, Caribbean cuisines, dance and festivals all which are associated within the Caribbean realm. An identity which can be classified as – ‘That’s Caribbean’
How would you describe your design technique, collections, and the pieces that you’ve created?
I believe I am an artistic designer. My main focus is understanding the root of my inspirational subject; looking closely at it’s original form, the elements used to create it and then working around those elements to re-create my own version in a much contemporary form, putting in focus one important element. In other words, my design aesthetic is very minimal with clean lines and a choice of monochromatic shades of color. I like my audience to appreciate the simplicity of the subject, not distracting the eye to much.
To date, what do you see as one of your biggest challenges since you’ve started designing?
Honestly, sometimes is hard staying motivated due to the lack of opportunities and support within the Caribbean. Not saying that there isn’t but I believe if I were to become better at what I do, I need to experience more of what’s beyond the Caribbean islands. Understanding different industries, cultures and design techniques. I am fortunate to have the faith and support of my close family and friends. I believe however that I will indeed achieve those goals which I have set for myself and I understand daily that time will change everything. I will remain humble, focus and determined.
How would you describe the Adrian Foster brand?
The brand, Adrian Foster is definitely not a luxury brand. It’s a contemporary label that seeks after the empowerment of women. Providing the availability of affordable easy to wear clothing that has an artistic appeal, serves to be functional and versatile that will easily adhere to their day-to-day lifestyle either work or recreational and highly influenced by the ease of the Caribbean lifestyle.
What do you see in the future of your fashion design business and the Adrian Foster brand?
Part of my business mission is to be known as one of the leading local fashion designer labels primarily based within parts of the Caribbean islands but not limited to be accessed at various international markets. The aim is to attract foreigners/travelers to venture into our Caribbean isle to capture a piece of ‘affordable luxury’ that they can enjoy on tourist visit, vacations or when they return home during summer or resort seasons. The value and quality of my products and services must be comparable yet competitive to those small foreign markets that exist.
How was the experience of showing at the Fashion Gallery NYFW and how has it influenced you?
My experience showing at Fashion Gallery NY for NYFW was amazing, it being my first US showcase. The team and the coordinator Mr. Gregory Moore was very professional.
The experience was indeed life-changing as I proved to myself that dreams are possible being able to achieve one of the goals I set out for the year. I am now determined to set greater goals and continue with confidence to fulfill them.
How do you see Caribbean fashions translating in other climates, regions, and parts of the world?
Naturally the fashion industry is a part of an artistic world where each person has a taste for various things that exist. It is through that that we are able to accept the multi-talented artists that are apart or emerging in this industry. People appreciate when fashion is greatly influenced by cultures. And it is through those cultures we experience new and exciting techniques and designs. Caribbean fashion will always have a place in this industry just as those other rich cultural countries around the world. There is a market for almost anything that is created, humans are attracted to different things and that’s what makes us unique, not only as a business but as individuals.
How do you feel about your upcoming showing at London Fashion week?
I feel very excited! It’s a huge opportunity for me, one in which i have never thought would of happen this soon. Just late last year i made this wish and God heard it and he granted it onto me. Praise him.
This is a great platform for me where i can see what’s out there in terms of creativity and networking and learning about business development and attaining information about resources. The International Fashion Showcase this year is aiming to help alot of emerging designers to find their way in the business of fashion. So this is not a stage fashion show, it’s a networking platform. My pieces will be on an exhibit type of installation along with other young/emerging designers from all over the world.
How beautiful is Guyana’s very own Miss Universe Guyana 2014 in an Adrian Foster design?
Photo by Eustace Dyer
I’m so thankful that Adrian took the time to answer my questions for this feature and for providing the images.