PLANTATION — Caribbean style received international attention when Trinidad and Tobago’s Anya Ayoung-Chee won Lifetime TV’s fashion reality show Project Runway Season 9 in 2011. Trinidad did it again when Renée Bhagwandeen showed on Cycle 20 of CW’s America’s Next Top Model in 2013.
Add to the mix the more than 2.7 million people of Caribbean descent living in America and marketers have taken note.
In Broward, where the majority of the population is non-white, marketers are finding ways to tap into the diverse communities by partnering on events such as Caribbean Style Week.
The brainchild of Asa Sealy, CEO of Aifos Agency and president of the Caribbean American Heritage Florida Inc., he joined forces with Westfield Broward, which is in the heart of Plantation and minutes from Caribbean-heavy Lauderhill and Lauderdale Lakes.
Sealy was referred to Westfield Broward by the Multi-Cultural Division of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Conventions and Visitors Bureau, which has partnered with CAHFI with on various initiatives, including the recently held Colors of the Caribbean event in Hollywood.
Caribbean Style Week runs at the Broward Mall in Plantation until June 29, the final few days of Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
“Westfield Broward’s North Star statement is ‘Where Community Celebrates Culture.’ This positioning was created based on the center’s location and the diversity of its customer base, said Andrew Martineau, director of Marketing for the mall. “This initiative with Caribbean Fashion Week is just one of many initiatives the center hopes to execute with various partners in number of diverse communities in Broward County.”
Caribbean Style Week seeks to promote and highlight Caribbean fashion and its designers during Caribbean American Heritage Month. The weeklong event kicked off on Monday June 23 with pop-up shops scattered throughout the mall featuring Caribbean designers HD Premium Denim, Chandra Maharaj Swimwear, Riddim Driven and Kulture Klothes by Isis and others.
Caribbean Style Week producer Aifos promises a runway fashion shows and live entertainment inside the mall on Saturday, June 28, from 4 – 6 p.m. On Sunday, June 29, expect to see cultural performances from 2 – 4 p.m.
“You can learn more about the designers’ stories and the respective Caribbean islands each represent at the event,” Sealy said. Plans are underway for 2015, which includes inviting some of the Caribbean fashion powerhouse’s like Ayoung-Chee and Bhagwandeen. Sealy wants “the South Florida community to embrace everything fashion in the Caribbean.”
The mall recently completed a $39-million renovation, adding a 12-screen movie theatre near J.C. Penny, renovated the food court and added new stores and restaurants. It wants to draw the community in to spend some time.
“The New Westfield Broward is creating a venue where the communal engagement of hanging out with family and friends from various cultures in a fun and safe environment that incorporates important family functions alongside quality retail stores is embraced and promoted – and what better way to celebrate culture than by partnering with various entities in the Caribbean community during Caribbean American Heritage month,” Martineau said.