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TTBS develops standards to support fashion industry
2013/7/24 11:10:24 Source: newsday Author:Beverly Monroe
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TRINIDAD and Tobago is well poised to become the fashion capital of the Caribbean region as the local fashion industry continues to evolve amidst its plethora of challenges.

Highly influenced by the rich diversity of ethnic cultures and driven by the passion of the citizenry as evidenced in the expression of Carnival and “mas,” the local fashion industry is a growing industry with limitless opportunities for innovation and creativity. Leading the way, local designers including Meiling, Claudia Pegus, Heather Jones, Nigel Eastman, Robert Young and Anya Ayoung-Chee, to name a few, have been able to access niche markets and compete successfully in international markets.

To help the industry grow and contribute to the diversification of the economy, the Fashion Industry Development Committee (FIDC) was established last year under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment and mandated to oversee the development of a strategic plan for the industry, to develop opportunities for global access, and to establish pilot projects to build capacity within the fashion industry.

Some of the impediments to the industry’s growth and development include the lack of mass production facilities and skilled labour. Designers are often cautious about entering new markets as supply is stymied by the lack of local garment factories and trained workers who are competent in garment construction.

Additionally, it is becoming more apparent that secondary school students need to be equipped with skill sets in the areas of design, construction and entrepreneurship which would enable them to function effectively in any sub-sector of the fashion industry.

The locally manufactured garments need to be properly constructed and finished if they are to successfully compete with high-end fashion products imported from regional and international sources. There is also a need for more marketing platforms at the national level and the consistent importation of quality fabric and notions (small tools and accessories used in garment production).

Standards play an integral role in improving product quality and performance. The Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) is mandated, under the Standards Act No.18 of 1997, to develop, promote and enforce standards. The TTBS has developed a number of voluntary and compulsory standards in the area of garments, textiles and footwear to support the fashion industry. The most recent standard developed under this portfolio is TTS 625:20XX, Assessment of garment quality – Requirements which is a draft standard that is currently being advertised for public comment.

The aim of this standard is to establish requirements pertaining to the various constructional features, finishing, and presentation of outerwear and underwear garments. It is expected to be used by a wide range of stakeholders, including garment manufacturers in their quality control procedures; importers and distributors in their procurement procedures; export agencies in the development of export criteria for good garment construction; and consumers to access information on best practices in garment construction.

This standard was developed by a Technical Committee comprising representatives from:

? Fashion organisations - including the Fashion Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FATT) and the Fashion Entrepreneurs of Trinidad and Tobago (FETT)

? Academia - the Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design of the University of Trinidad and Tobago

? State agencies - the Consumer Affairs Division of the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries

? Government Ministries - including the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development; the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment; and the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro-Enterprise Development

? Business organisations — the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce

? Independent consultants with expertise in garment construction.

The TTBS is committed to supporting the development of the fashion industry by providing standards and other services, including testing and product certification to facilitate trade and enhance global competitiveness. In the short term, other standards relating to school uniforms and inputs into the manufacturing of garments will be addressed.

The draft standard TTS 625:20XX was made available for public comment on June 17th 2013. Interested persons still wishing to view and comment on the standard can access a copy on the TTBS website (www.gottbs.com). The deadline for receiving comments has been extended to August 2, 2013.

 

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