When the contestants in the Miss Jamaica World 2021 pageant grace the stage this Saturday, October 9, they will be wearing pieces created by fifteen (15) local fashion designers who have been working feverishly since August when they began the JBDC/MJW Top Designer journey with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) as their guide. The winner is set to be awarded in a pre-show ceremony on the day of the competition.
Robert Hall, fashion expert at the JBDC says the designers were asked to participate in four challenges. “Their contestant needed a commercial look, an outfit that would show off their runway skills, an Avant Garde high fashion look that would photograph well, and a national costume design. The extremely talented and capable group of designers had to negotiate the uncertainties and changes of the covid-19 pandemic. The most significant was a major drop in sales as most of their market was pegged to entertainment, special events, as well as occasions and excursions for which they crafted custom clothing. They gathered resources amidst these challenges and exceeded the mandate to create four outfits for their designated MJW contestant,” he explained.
According to Hall, the partnership with MJW allows the JBDC to continue to provide business development support to the local fashion sector at a time when they need it most. “The JBDC/MJW Top designer designation allows us to bring attention to the individual designers providing a platform for them to show the scope of their abilities and awareness around their product. Having completed the commercial, runway and Avant Garde looks, the designers are all in the final phases of completing their interpretation of what a national costume should look like. They are pulling from all facets of Jamaican culture, mythology, symbols, and iconography to drive the concepts of hope for us in this period,” he said.
The contestants have already been photographed in 3 designs at the Ocho Rios Pier in St. Ann, an exercise that allowed them to bond with the beauties. “Many of the contestants have forged close relationships with the designers have fallen in love with their portfolio of work. Franchise holder of MJW, Dahlia Harris, was beyond impressed with the response to each of the challenges and is ever grateful for their partnership,” he added.
The JBDC’s Incubator & Resource Centre in Kingston has taken a keen interest in the development of the local fashion industry, particularly as it relates to the use of traditional techniques and the approach to developing and releasing collections as entrepreneurs. Some of the most recent interventions include the JBDC Design Fusion programme, which focused on making them viable entities, and the Festival of the Cloth discussion series aimed at reviving local textile production.
Hall says this latest initiative with MJW speaks to the resilience of the sector. “It is a reminder that our industry is built on the creativity of these small entrepreneurs, and it is they whom we are seeking to support for transformation into larger profitable sustainable firms. Come Saturday, MJW fans can look forward to exciting fashion interpretations of ourselves as a people fostering camaraderie, encouragement, and hope for the future as well as, the crowning of the JBDC/MJW Top Designer 2021,” he said.