With a spot on the global fashion stage, the Caribbean Fashion Style Journal bridges the fashion community throughout the scattered arc of tropical islands in the West Indies, with its one-stop, online platform for Caribbean style.
"The aim of everything we do is to connect those outside the Caribbean with what's happening within, and to connect the Caribbean with the fashion world at large. We want to encourage collaboration [and] innovation," said Darcel de Vlugt, creative director and editor in chief at CFstyle.com, in an email interview with The Ticker.
Expanding on the ideal of innovation, CFstyle.com goes beyond traditional fashion publications.
De Vlugt said, "We don't just seek out what's hot right now and talk about what everyone else is talking about; we also look for the unnoticed artisans […] who don't have the resources to promote their work on a bigger stage."
By combing the entire Caribbean region, CFstyle.com creates fashion journals that portray an intimate, behind-the scenes account of designers' final products.
"We want to hear about the people behind the scenes; the ones behind the idea and execution; the people who make it happen," de Vlugt continued, "CFstyle.com gives the rest of the world a window into what is still a very untapped industry."
In particular, CFstyle.com has tapped into SoKa, the clothing collection by the St. Vincent fashion designer, Karen Fraser. The website currently has two features on SoKa which relay varied perspectives.
The first feature, "Hidden Gems: Karen De Freitas Fraser," is part of CFstyle's Hidden Gems series, which spotlights promising talents in the Caribbean industry.
The article embodies Fraser's perspective as it focuses on her personal background and inspiration for SoKa, which she describes as a fusion between African motifs and contemporary designs.
The second feature, "Pic(K) of the Week: Kimi See Tai," goes behind-the-scenes with the Trinidadian model, Kimi See Tai, wearing SoKa swimwear for a photo-shoot. De Vlugt said, "[Fraser] always sends us updates of her ventures as a fashion student in New York, and it has been really interesting to watch her grow and progress in her skills and knowledge."
Along with artists like Fraser, and Kered Clement, who has closely worked as an art director with de Vlugt, CFstyle.com also showcases trending styles in the fashion industry. Centered on CFstyle's cover page is model Heidi Walcott wearing a maze-like, black and white design from Lori-Antoinette Williams' Hak Gwai collection.
Monochrome Madness, as de Vlugt calls it, epitomizes "the simplicity, modernity and visual appeal of the black/white colour contrast," she said. "When I saw the trend appear in the Caribbean at the Tobago Fashion Weekend (May 2011) with the graphic Hak Gwai collection, it just sealed my desire to bring the idea to life."
While CFstyle has become deeply plugged into the Caribbean fashion industry with its showcasing of trends and talents, it was Daniel Smith, CEO and founder of CFstyle.com, who was first to envision Caribbean fashion as an, "untapped industry," according to de Vlugt. Smith saw Caribbean fashion as a growing market and as a window of opportunity for artists like Fraser and many others featured on the site to globalize their work. From the perspective of an opportunist, Smith became interested in maximizing the fashion and art creative-talent in the Caribbean.
Since then, CFstyle.com has become the global bedrock for liaising Caribbean fashion amongst the entire world. Furthermore, de Vlugt said, "we are involved in the curation of fashion artwork for the London International Showcase, which is a venture of the British Fashion Council."
She disclosed that CFstyle.com created an exhibition in London which focuses on highlighting the diverse talents of the Caribbean region. As of Feb. 20, at the Trinidad & Tobago High Commission in Belgrave Square, London, the exhibition has been open to the public.
In the future, de Vlugt sees CFstyle.com, "as the leading source for all things Caribbean and fashion-related." De Vlugt spoon feeds a little more to look forward to from the Caribbean Fashion Style Journal by revealing that, "soon, we'll have new items on the site that make it the first of its kind regionally, but I cannot divulge too much information just yet!" Currently however, de Vlugt's intentions for the site are clear:
"I want people to think of CFstyle.com when they need to get their work out there," she said.