The power behind Fashion Week
Rodney Powers is a busy man. Last weekend at Independence Square he pitched a tent and put on an event that showcased three days of couture, street and urban fashions and for the first time ever at Barbados Fashion Week (BBFW), a plus-size and children’s line.
Powers is a powerhouse whose reputation precedes him. When he is not designing costumes for Grand Kadooment, he is organizing and overseeing events from here to the United States, including fashion events at CARIFESTA, Guyana Fashion Weekend, Fashion Has No Borders in Toronto and Calgary, Canada, and Islands of the World Fashion Week in The Bahamas, among others.
Powers is CEO of Unique Productions Worldwide Ltd (UPWL) and his brand is all about being a leader in innovative fashion, entertainment and lifestyle marketing, programming and production.
The company has interconnected products and services that deliver fresh, modern branding and promotional opportunities for fashion designers, entertainers, and producers of lifestyle products and services.
“This brand has many arms . . . . Right now I’m focusing on the Caribbean Market Centre arm, which works with young people in the fashion industry – not just designers but also the hair and make-up people. Our main focus is to develop young Barbadians to take them to the next level.”
Powers has an incubation programme with four designers – people from skills training and the Polytechnic.
“We are looking to develop them for the international market . . . .”
In April 2013, as the local production team for Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model, UPWL successfully managed the filming in Barbados of four episodes and the finale for Series 9 of the hit television show.
“I feel really good about that. Local designer Kesia Estwick had some of her designs featured on that show. That is exposure beyond our wildest dreams.”
Speaking of Kesia, she also showed along with Brandi Estwick at Los Angeles Fashion Week earlier this year and they were a success.
While Powers is in BBFW mode now, he recently returned from China and Hong Kong, calling the trip “amazing”.
“We go all the time. And this year I brought Kesia. We go to the manufacturing areas to see how it is done . . . . We look for current fabrics that are actually in season.”
Eight years ago the event was called Absolute Caribbean Fashion and lasted one day but has evolved into BBFW.
“It continues to grow and grow. We provid young designers with an opportunity to show. We cannot show everyone, so we have a selection programme to pick who we use on the shows.
“For BBFW the designers who showed on Friday were showing 2014 fabrics and looks,” he said, citing Barbados as current when it comes to fashion design.
BBFW pieces “have to be ready-to-wear and finished and current – we need to stand against international fashion designers.
Powers is thinking ahead for next year and in the pipeline is Fall 2015 for next February’s fashion show. A trip is being planned for Lagos, Nigeria next year, and Barbados’ own reality fashion show is in the works.
“Next year there will be a reality runway show called Caribbean Next Fashion Brand. It is already a concept. It’s a TV show and we have started to create out of the rehearsals for this BBFW . . . we have already started the teasing for it.
“We are just waiting to confirm the international buyer houses we are inviting and the judges for the event.”
Powers says fashion is a viable billion-dollar event and corporate Barbados needs to invest in it.