Zidelle Daniel (foreground) at the Meiling shop in Port-of-Spain. Behind her at right is designer Meiling. Photo: Jon Otway
Sunglasses: Sanianitos Earrings: Willow and Oak Styling by twodotpick Photo courtesy: jlm.perspectivs/ The Fashion Mashup

“The Fashion Mashup is an informal collaboration that springs up from time to time based on product introduction, the season, or as an alternative to a structured show which can be costly and exclusive.” says Zidelle Daniel, one of the designers with a stake in the new Trinidadian fashion movement. Along with a handful of other designers, Daniel displayed pieces at a show in August at Meiling’s shop in Port-of-Spain.

Her new line is 1491 Denim, which she explains “marries an urban aesthetic with Caribbean resort to produce a brand in harmony with our city and sea duality”. “The name is derived from a concept of de-colonisation and so predates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas [in 1492]. The clothing is heavily influenced and inspired by the First Peoples’ heritage.” She adds, “It’s not to make light of, but rather to make something positive out of our experience.” High quality and well-designed denim pieces are the focus of the brand, complimented by a full line of wardrobe essentials and some fun, unique pieces.

Shirt and khakis by 1491 Denim. Photo: Jon Otway

Other brands in the Mashup are Lend & Borough by Melissa Darbeau, Sanianitos by Sanian Lewis, and SewLisa by Lisa Gittens. Lend & Borough designs and creates handcrafted leather and fabric totes and clutches with a focus on superior craftsmanship. Sanianitos is a jewellery and fashion accessories brand “inspired by the aesthetic of the Caribbean, through the facet of the Trinbagonian aesthetic.”

SewLisa started off with women’s and children’s wear and has since branched out to embrace upcycling in its signature accessories. “Spotting a resource right in her design room, the beautiful fabric remnants from her clothing production, [Gittens] hit upon the idea for the RORI wrap belt. Sustainable and special, each belt is hand-made and unique. [The RORI wrap belt] is a consistent best-seller for the label,” SewLisa said in a press release about the brand.

Shirt, khakis and denim bracelet: 1491 Denim
Styling by twodotpick
Photo courtesy: jlm.perspectivs/ The Fashion Mashup

The labels are under Meiling’s aegis. Recognised as a Caribbean fashion icon and leader of one of the most successful and consistent fashion brands in the region, Meiling herself has taken an interest in the young designers’ work, displaying it prominently in her prêt-a-porter shop alongside her own pieces.

“Meiling has always been a major mentor to young designers and was responsible for many collaborative fashion events,” Daniel says. “She pushes the young designers to not only focus on the glamorous aspects of the industry but to be professional and aware of our business management as such her contribution to the development of the industry in general is vital as there are not many business mentors in the fashion sector.”

Being close to Meiling gives the younger brands positive correlation. “People have an expectation of quality when associated with the Meiling brand”. Yet, as close to her as they are, these designers are not Meiling knock-offs. “Each designer takes pride in their unique vision,” Daniel says.