Trini Men in Style

Full Original Article via Newsday

Published on Sunday, April 30 2017

After 17 years of building a thriving fashion label, Point Fortin designers Omzad Khan and Nigel Eastman, of Zadd and Eastman, are noticing a new and good sign: Trinibagonian men are more fashion conscious.

“I must say, sometimes, the men are better dressed at functions than the women now,” said Eastman. 

“Fellas now, they learn the importance of a jacket and a blazer and a sweater and a cardigan and a bow tie and I mean, the fellas and them, they on top of things.” It is a welcome development, Eastman observes, who along with Khan, have been in the industry for four decades, inclusive of the life of the Zadd and Eastman brand of women’s fashion. 

In 1981, Khan founded a retail outlet on the Point Fortin Main Road by the name of Le Fleur. 

After earning a name for himself as a retailer, Khan developed the skills and confidence necessary to create his own fashion label with Eastman. The brand has burst its local seams and is internationally known and sought after. 

“We have styled Destiny’s Child – we did a photo shoot with them in California,” Eastman said of the multiple Grammy award winning R&B group, which produced superstar Beyonce. 

“We also supplied Nicki Minaj with clothes for different purposes when she came to Trinidad. And Dottie Peoples, the award winning gospel artiste.” 

Trinidad-born Minaj has also won multiple awards as a top performing hip hop artiste. 

Locally, the designers have dressed an impossible to list number of women, from Sharon Rowley, lawyer and wife of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, to jazz singer Vaughnette Bigford. They’ve styled several Miss Trinidad and Tobago queens and won numerous awards at home and abroad. 

The brand is focused on providing beautiful clothing to “sophisticated women who know and understand fashion” and, will continue to do so, Eastman assured. 

But, the designer has taken note of how local men are grooming and styling themselves. 

“Now, it is a gym thing, and the haircuts. 

Before, when you would just going by a barber and scrape down your hair, but now you have styles: the high-cut, the beard, the Muslim thing, the male ponytail on the top, the buff-up shoulders, the slim shirt and sleek jeans. I mean, they are on par and sometimes even better dressed than the woman.” Despite the welcome change, Eastman, who also lectures on design concept in fashion design degree programme at the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s BA in Fashion Design, sees no need for the label to go into the men’s wear just yet. 

However, he said the trend reflects a slowly unfurling consciousness about what new developments in the industry. 

“Trinidad is having a conversation about a fashion industry. People have been saying that this is one of the alternative industries to oil and gas. To get there, we have asked for free zone spaces, training people, introducing sewing classes into the education system.” And government has responded to the calls for fashion to be taken seriously as a viable industry with FashionTT , a subsidiary of Creative TT . 

“Stimulating and facilitating the business development and export activity of the fashion industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth,” is the state enterprise’s mandate, according to Creative TT ’s website. The Ministry of Trade and Industry’s analysis of the creative industry last year identified 210 fashion companies, which employed over 1,465 persons and generated in excess of $266 million. 

As such, Eastman believes there is potential for growth with proper planning and implementation, but the road ahead will be long.