Clarke launches CAFE in Manhattan

Janice Lawrence Clarke, fashion connoisseur and creative director of JLC PRoductions was elated that her 30-year dream to market Caribbean-heritage fashion and accessory designers in the U.S. became a reality when the Caribbean American Fashion Exchange (CAFE) initiative was launched with great fanfare.

The social entrepreneur partnered with the Caribbean Tourism Organization Foundation on June 5 at a fundraising reception during Caribbean Heritage Week, and promised that CAFE will provide a forum for the region’s creative industries to engage the North American market.

Wearing a creation by Meiling, a fellow Trinidad and Tobago-born professional, Lawrence Clarke expressed her eagerness to showcase Caribbean couturiers through a variety of programs that would help them to build their brands.

The eloquent fashion expert that was applauded by the Diaspora for her brilliant concept, said the door is open for Caribbean nationals to share “our vibrant, culturally-rich heritage. It is time that we put into practice economic empowerment through cultural development.

She lauded the likes of Adolfo of Cuba, Francis Hendy of Trinidad, Carolina Herrera of Venezuela and Oscar de La Renta of the Dominican Republic, for reaching international acclaim.

However, the fashion forward professional would like to see other talented Caribbean designer grasping the elusive fame that would allow them to reach the pinnacle of fashion in America.

Fully supported by the CTO Foundation, chairman Jacqueline Johnson drew parallels between the two entities, saying, ‘both entities have at their core, identifying and developing the best and the brightest from the Caribbean to assure prominence in their field of endeavor.

“We applaud the work of JLC PRoductions on the CAFE initiative and look forward to continuing to collaborate on future activities that rebound to the benefit of the Caribbean and Caribbean peoples.

Sylma Brown Bramble, director at the Caribbean Tourist Board, and a board member of the CTO Foundation, added that because CTO engages the Diaspora and Janice is active in the Diaspora, “I thought CAFE would be and interesting project to be involved with.”

“With the launch of CAFÉ, and partnership with CTO we are excited to foster Caribbean American fashion designers who for some reason are not recognized in the U.S. We will represent these designers that are more known in the Caribbean, and give them a U.S. presence,” said Mitria Di Gacomo, brand maven and president of Nexus Plexus.

Barbadian-born Dexter John of John1NY collection showcased samples of his male vintage inspired style that he described as authentic and detailed.

Models also displayed pieces from Coat of Arms – a luxury fashion and accessories brand collection inspired by Caribbean travel.

In addition, EMK the official Caribbean Espadrille, created by Martinique-Parisian designer Willem Germany and crafted from madras fabric is now being sold in the U.S.

Funds raised will benefit the CTO Foundation.

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