Harvest–Shoma the Label launches its second collection
Shoma the Label captures the intricate drape of banana blossom, the gentle sway of sugar cane and the splendor of island coffee and cocoa crops in its second collection, Harvest. More than that, Harvest shines a light on the unique fashion origins of our people.
Wrapped in sophisticated beiges, warm reds and corals, lush greens and vibrant prints, Harvest is an ode to Trinbagonian history, celebrating a past forged in struggle.
After launching her solo collection, Tropical Masquerade, under her eponymous label in December 2020, fashion designer and creative director of Shoma the Label, Shoma Persad, said she wanted to continue to empower women through fashion by exploring Caribbean history. Harvest is its spring/summer offering launched on February 9, accompanied by a lookbook.
In Harvest, she combines elements of the colonial era – when Canboulay marked the end of the burning of sugar cane fields in harvest season, a time when slaves donned suits and mocked their European masters – with elements of the country’s formative period after emancipation when the cultures of our ancestors blended together to create a unique tapestry. With names like “Banana Grove midi”, “Jute Sweet crop top” and “Grove linen pants”, the pieces in his collection also evoke the beauty of the main cultures of our twin islands after emancipation.
Fashion designer and creative director of Shoma The Label, Shoma Persad.
As part of its efforts to support local artisans, Persad has once again partnered with artisan jewelry brand, Sanianitos, which shares Shoma the Label’s vision to promote a sustainable industry for Caribbean fashion.
Since Persad’s solo debut, her designs have been featured in the March 21 issue of Vogue Mexico and Travel + Leisure magazine “Designers to Shop for a Colorful Caribbean Inspired Look.”
Shoma the Label also outfitted actress Gabriel Union, who wore the “Hibiscus Rose” jumpsuit from the debut collection in a 2021 New Year’s Hawaii holiday Instagram post. Persad said she was excited and also felt a deep sense of pride for the Label. as to T&T when it received the order. American fashion influencer Blaire Eadie was also spotted wearing the brand.
Persad said she would like all women to feel confident wearing Shoma the Label, knowing that they show off some of the Caribbean aesthetic and look like a million bucks.
Sophisticated beiges and lush greens were part of the Harvest collection.
Q&A with Shoma Persad
Tell me about the vision behind Harvest.
Harvest is really meant to delve into the roots of our fashion as a people and the genesis of carnival. With Tropical Masquerade, I wanted to talk about our expressive identity, sparkle and vibrancy and it reflected what people think of when they think of Caribbean fashion. My first collection was about the ‘now’, so I wanted to delve deeper into the roots of Trinbagonian fashion with Harvest.
In the late 1800s, colonial Trinity changed dramatically; slavery was abolished, indentured laborers began to arrive, and crops like bananas, coffee, and of course sugar were mainstays of the island’s economy. It was also a founding period for us, cultural diversity, the synergy of food and music, and our fashion.
For example, Canboulay began to play an important role in our culture and was the mother of our modern carnival after the Canboulay riots. The women of that time really paved the way for culture. If you have ever seen Mrs. Eintou Springer’s recreation of Canboulay you would know that the harvest was a big part of the holiday for our ancestors and this period is when we started to mix colonial high fashion into our own style for the festivities. . We see it in old farmhouses with Dame Lorraines and Baby Dolls. It was also a time when we fought to project our freedoms and cultural expressions.
Harvest is a celebration of that, I wanted to pay homage to that first fashion revolution in T&T, and merge it with inspiration from the cultures of the country, in a statement of where we come from and who we are.
Where do you draw your inspiration from, what is your creative process?
I often get this question and my answer is the same; I am inspired by us. The people, the culture, the historic fashion, the nature, how we lime, how we party, how we live. I always think about versatility when making my clothes and how I can inject our unique point of view into it.
I love taking something obscure and making it fashionable, that’s what makes the brand fun. Can you imagine walking into a house on the beach or being in Miami, and someone says “You look beautiful” and you say “Yeah, it’s inspired by bananas in Trinidad”? The truth is, anything can be trendy if you put your mind to it.
The materials and color palette of beiges, corals, reds, lush greens are in keeping with the tropical Caribbean aesthetic, right? Tell me more.
It is our signature. Each Shoma the Label piece will always contain a piece of the Caribbean. While each collection will have its own story and point of view, the brand’s DNA or base will draw from the Caribbean. That’s why when Gabrielle Union was spotted wearing the label in the mainstream press, everyone in Trinidad could say, “It’s Shoma.” It’s something I’m very proud of and will never lose in my brand.
Your experience with actress Gabriel Union, how did it go?
The order was placed by one of our dropshipping agents. When the order was placed, it was quite exciting to find out who it was for. Seeing the photos on social media gave me a deep sense of pride, not just because she was wearing one of my pieces, but because Trinidad and Tobago continues to shine on the international stage.
Besides the Caribbean, what are your target markets? Any market responses you’d like to share?
I have always positioned Shoma The Label as an internationally oriented brand and we have had great success in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States.
Over the past year, we have shipped customers to countries as far afield as Hong Kong, Portugal, Qatar, UAE, Germany, Australia, to name a few. It gives me an immense sense of pride to know that my creations are worn in places where I dream of going one day.
Currently, our pieces are retailed in boutiques in Barbados, St. Croix, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. We look forward to growing the retail side of the business this year.
Jute Sweet crop top and Banana Grove midi from Harvest.
Over a year and a half ago, you released your first Shoma The Label collection during a pandemic. What do you think about this and launching a new collection again in these times? Any other joys… or challenges that this pandemic has brought you?
Launching during the pandemic was tough, but the lessons I learned only made me stronger. Regardless of the sector, we are all aware of the ripple effects of the pandemic on global economies and supply chain challenges that have had a significant impact on our costs. Unfortunately, I anticipate that we will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future, but we will persevere, and what we have learned so far will help make Harvest even better represented and distributed.
Another major challenge was protecting my intellectual property and designs. My prints and designs were copied in the Middle and Far East. Just recently, fakes were spotted right here on our soil, sold in a fairly “reputable” store in San Fernando. It’s an international issue that affects fashion houses of all sizes, but I must admit that it pained me to see local retailers, who follow our social media pages, decide not to support the local designer, but rather to feed the imitation market.
Sorry to hear that. How have you evolved as a designer since your solo debut?
The growth happened in so many ways, I have such an expectation for myself and for the brand, so I had to delve deeper into building garments to understand how to bring my vision to life. The more I learned and understood about construction, the more precise and forward-thinking I could become with my designs. These kinds of experiences you can only get when you jump into the industry headfirst. That’s why I can now look at a banana tree and run my mind through the drape of flowers and fruit, and the colors of the plant could translate to the shape of a woman. I also had to leverage my business and marketing experience, especially during a pandemic, to be able to move the business forward while maintaining quality for my clients.
What is your ultimate aspiration for Shoma the Label?
Shoma the Label’s ultimate aspiration is to empower women through fashion. Empowerment is like taking a piece of the Caribbean aesthetic and being able to wear it proudly, knowing that when you walk through the door you look and feel like a million bucks. I also want to always be able to tell the story of Trinbagon and the Caribbean with every collection. Meaningful, inspiring and well fitting designs is what I am.