Can T&T’s Fashion Industry become Globally Competitive? PART THREE: Three Essential Strategic Components

In our last article, we discussed the strategy for increasing competitiveness of the local fashion industry in order to compete in the global marketplace. To recap, the principal strategy is Integration of New External Elements which addresses the need for differentiation by combining external elements with the elements of the local industry. This will be combined with the development of a unique brand anchored in the “Caribbean Aesthetic”. This week, we will discuss three critical areas that must be addressed in order for this strategy to be achieved.

1. Transformation of the Value Chain

To increase the viability of the industry, there is the need to fully exploit the Global Fashion Value Chain[1]. This will be done through concentrated efforts and direct support to firms/ designers that are considered export-ready. Additionally, efforts will be placed to augment the local value chain through the development of a local Cooperative designed to focus the capabilities of several firms simultaneously in order to benefit from economies of scale, design and production skills and technical expertise.

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2. Development of the Industry as a Viable System

Changes have and are continuing to take place in the Fashion Industry globally. The local industry has not been able to adapt as an industry to take advantage of the opportunities that have emerged. To a large extent, this is because the Industry, as a system, lacks important features that would make it able to adapt, that is, to make it viable. In order to transform this, the new strategy is designed to build the requisite elements and will be done through the following six Strategic Programmes (that align with the Viable System Model dimensions)[2].

  1. Improve Market Access
  2. Innovate Organizations & Operations
  3. Assure Sector Coordination & Support
  4. Well-governed Strategic Investments
  5. Institute an Industry Intelligence and Innovation Function
  6. Actively Manage the Industry Strategy and Governance Process Policy 

3. Strategic Alignment Criteria

In order to align the focus and work with the greatest amount of cost efficiency and effectiveness, all Principal Strategies within the six Strategic Programmes need to be designed so as to achieve a few essential Strategic Alignment Criteria. The following are the Strategic Alignment Criteria that fall within the benefit category. All Principal Strategies need to perform as high as possible on these criteria, that is, they need to be maximized.   Alignment Criteria:

  • Viability: To what extent does the Principal Strategy support the establishment of viable system elements? Not all programmes have an equally big or direct impact on viability and what will be reflected in the weighting system.


  • Large Export Lead: to what extent does the Principal Strategy promote the conditions of success for two firms from Trinidad and Tobago to succeed to achieve several orders of magnitude greater sales internationally?


  • Growth Linkage: to what extent does the Principal Strategy contribute to or provide the linkage and boundary that ensure that if Trinidad and Tobago has two companies that really grow and lead through exports, there will be the pull for the others, and even in related sectors? The linkage is not about the two companies, but about how much others would grow if the two are successful because of the created linkage factor.

  Depth & Strength: To what extent does the Principal Strategy support the development of a wide ‘pipeline’ of designers – different stages of development and different target markets and styles? This is explicitly not considering the impact on the 2 high GVC exporters.   The table below outlines the specific transformations that are required:

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54321 The Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Company Limited (FashionTT) was established in 2013 and is mandated by the government of Trinidad and Tobago to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activities for the fashion industry. As such, the execution of the strategic plan for the fashion industry and, in particular, the areas that have been discussed in this series of articles are the responsibility of this company so as to ensure that the local fashion industry not only becomes globally competitive but also becomes a sustainable and significant contributor to national GDP. The complete strategic plan for the Fashion Industry of Trinidad and Tobago can be found at   Intellectual property rights including copyright (with all data supplied) are assigned to the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries.

 [1] Specifically, when activities must be coordinated across geographies, the term global value chain (GVC) is used in the development literature. Simply put, the global value chain includes all of the people involved in the production of a good or service. Source:

[2] See Chapter 2 of the Strategic Plan for the Fashion Industry –