Trinidad – the next ‘it’ island?

“Trinidad is not piña colada territory. That’s part of its allure: Unlike virtually every other Caribbean island, the oil-rich country seven miles off Venezuela is not driven by tourism — which means that in lieu of sunbathing hordes and “Yah, Mon” T-shirts, you’ll find miles of unspoiled beaches and waterfalls visited by locals; a Creole culture with roots in Africa, India, Europe and China; and a bustling capital city offering some of the Caribbean’s most electrifying night life. Partying, after all, is a national tradition in Trinidad, home to an annual Carnival that is the region’s biggest and, lately, most star-studded (last year, the actors Idris Elba and Malik Yoba showed up). That, along with recent restaurant and hotel openings and trendy Trini ambassadors — from the rappers Nicki Minaj and Theophilus London to the “Project Runway” winner Anya Ayoung Chee — might just turn Trinidad into the next “it” island.” – an excerpt from a recent New York Times Article: 36 hours in Trinidad

Anya Ayoung-Chee


Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

Theophilus London

Theophilus London

Everyone knows Nicki,,but does everyone know Theo? I didn’t know about him till this NY Times article..and now I can’t stop listening to him..


How could’ve the NY times have left out Vashtie? Vashtie Kola – a.k.a. Va$htie or “Downtown’s Sweetheart” – is an artist, video director/producer, clothing designer, party promoter and entrepreneur. She’s directed videos for Solange, Kid Cudi, Jadakiss, and even Justin Beiber..and throws parties in NYC with QTIP. She also has her own clothing line, Violette which got her a collaboration with Jordan – making her the first woman to ever have her own Jordan.

Vashtie and her Jordan collaboration

The Jordan Vashtie designed..

Kola was born and raised in Albany, New York and is of East Indian and Afro-Trinidadian descent. In March 2009, Vibe Magazine listed her among the “31 Most Stylish People Under 31.” She came in at the 23rd spot amongst names like Kanye West, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake. In an interview about being American on the outside but Trinidadian on the inside, she had this to say “My parents are and were very Trinidadian and very traditional in that manner. For me I know that my parents would always talk about American kids and the difference in culture between there and Trinidad. We ate traditional food. My mum would show me Trinidadian music and movies. Once I walked in my door it seemed like Trinidad.



Anyhow,,I’m getting further and further from the point.

Now is an interesting time in Trinidad. This country is in flux,,in the midst of evolution. Especially after Anya’s highly publicized ‘Project Runway’ win..all eyes are on TNT to prove to the world (and itself) that this dual-island nation is so much more than just..Carnival. (Or maybe that’s just what I would like to see for the country?)

This is not to say I don’t like Carnival (although I won’t hide the fact that I’m no Carnival baby). On the contrary, I recognize what Carnival means to Trinidad (both culturally and economically) and what the annual festival has done to ‘put Trinidad on the map’ so to speak, in terms of the international exposure and tourism. And, what’s more..I think Carnival has provided the  foundation on which a new ‘generation’ of creative professionals plan to build great things..transformative things. Things, and experiences that showcase Trinidadian culture, customs, and ability all throughout the year – not only for a couple of days in February/March.

Recently I’ve been finding myself in discussions with artists, architects, film makers, designers, writers, …advertising and communication professionals.. Most of whom share similar profiles: educated/lived abroad and and have returned to Trinidad to put their education/experience to good use. Some, like me, are in the middle of getting to know Trinidad for the very first time. They are eager. Eager to take a holistic, transformative approach in developing Trinidad along more creative, artistic, and sustainable lines. They see this as being the “way forward” for this country..and think that there is no better opportunity than now to be part of this movement. I agree.

Trinidad is ready for a new Trinidad. This country is ripe with opportunity. Overripe almost.

I thought about this when I picked up the first print edition of Trinidad Lookbook last week.. Before it ran in print, Trinidad Lookbook was previously an online magazine/blog. This in itself piqued my interest about the many people have asked me why I don’t look into turning my Beiruti blog into a book. One of my main arguments was always, “Why would people pay for a book when they can get my content online..for free.” But flipping through the pages of Trinidad Lookbook, definitely made me think twice about my previous apprehension. From what I understand though, the case with Trinidad Lookbook is different as as the content that appears in the magazine is exclusive content that cannot be sourced online – which is the completely opposite stance most publications are taking these days.

As Robert (@mezblaq) over at Tribal Caribbean noted, “In a time when ‘the death of print’ seems to be looming ever closer, it’s quite interesting for a company to do something so ‘backward’ as it were, to start digitally and move into traditional media.” When Robert asked T’dad Lookbook Editor, Mel Gabriel (@tdadlookbook), on ‘why transition now, especially into what many consider a dying medium’ she had this to say “There’s a general misconception that print is dying… almost everything is digital now – like, life is extra-digital – so print is the new luxury and we wanted to provide a luxury option for fashion publishing that isnt the typical Facebook page or Twitter feed.”

I couldn’t agree with Mel more..print has become a luxury. However it will be interesting to note whether Lookbook continues to separate their online content from their print content..or choose instead to run their print content online.

Trinidad LookBook

Trinidad Lookbook

To be honest, I was a bit hesitant when I picked up this publication as my experience with other local publications (which shall remain nameless) have been..disappointing to say the least. (They are usually nothing more than photographic reviews of the latest fetes..sprinkled with a few restaurant/bar reviews to justify running ads) But as soon as I read ‘The Editor”..Mel’s introduction to her first print edition..I knew Trinidad Lookbook was, well..different. The features are more than well-written..they are intriguing, thought-provoking, and most importantly,,honest. They give insight into the up-and-coming industries in Trinidad: fashion, design, art. And… they are written for everyone, not only for the fashion-obsessed.

Trinidad Lookbook
10 questions with Anya feature..
Trinidad Lookbook

Style spread..

I enjoyed reading about Anya and Wendy yes, but I also enjoyed reading the “Fashion Emergency” piece about how fashion changed (or didn’t) during the SOE/curfew when people started to go to day time parties instead of nighttime well as about the artist/attorney Justin Sobion. The art direction and photography are also superb.. My favorites? The candid shots of Anya in “10 with Anya” and “Ayana Riviere’s Fashion Diary” as shot by Kibwe Brathwaite (@KibweBrathwaite)..(Ayana is such a beauty! wow!) And finally the layout and design of the publication –  by Abovegroup Ogilvy (@ag_ogilvy) – is clean, modern, and sophisticated..and ties the whole thing together.

Trinidad Lookbook

Wendy, Darling..feature

Trinidad Lookbook
Ayana Riviere’s style spread

All in all, I am impressed..and am looking forward to the next edition. This is what Trinidad needs..these types of publications and creative expressions. I am convinced. I mean, aren’t you?

My only criticism? Like Ceola B (@ceolab) pointed out on her blog, “Perhaps it is the type of paper or maybe this was a production ‘flaw’ but some of the photographs are far too dark, losing a lot of detailing in the clothing and accessories, which really, is the whole point of this [publication]. This was especially evident to me in the set with Manwarren, Steel and Emmanuel where clothing was described in the caption and I could not distinguish it.”

But I’m sure they’ll fix this by the next edition.

As usual, this post ended up starting as one thing and turning into something else. I hope you made it to the end..I know it was a long one.

Follow Trinidad Lookbook on TwitterFacebook and on their website..and pick up your complimentary edition of Trinidad Lookbook at the follow locations:

The Pallet Stick, POS

Meiling’s No. 6 studio

Runway Street, Woodbrook

Bang Bang, Frederick Street

Bang Bang, High Street, San Fernando

Bang Bang, Trincity

So Chic Boutique in Francis Plaza, Chaguanas


Filed under Life in Trinidad

14 responses to “Trinidad – the next ‘it’ island?

  1. latoya thomas

    fantastic i love it! 150%

    • Cheryl Flemming

      This is just sweet to see such a beautiful spread about my sweet Country Trinidad &Tobago, we are a special people full of Love. Plently talent and the most Beautiful Women in the World, i am so proud to be born there. I am looking forward to seeing you real soon. It’s Carnival Time and may God Bless Our Nation.

  2. This is amazing..proud to be Trini!

  3. Joel Ali

    Amazing and so true. Lots of talent, brains and resouces. Wonderful country.Yet how can a ROCK that has so much to offer, have such a babaric and third world mentality. Check the Roads, the stray dogs, the Vagrants and the animalistic murders. The attitude that everyone needs a kick- back to do what they supposed to do. And no one thinks that they have the ability to make a change or a difference. And people who get into positions to make a change and affect the Whole picture, become selfish and help themselves, leaving the country mostly in a dormant state. Please use your book to HELP Trinidad and Tobago.

    • Delta Echo

      Bro… such things exist almost everywhere in the world… we, however, are just coming to terms with it. Coupled with media that is driven by sensationalism and an inately ‘bachannalist’ culture, it is simply magnified (especially due to our size)… whether we want to admit or not, the majority of the ‘animalistic murders’ ARE gang and drug related and will continue to occur… even first world nations have yet to win the war on drugs and gangs… the only reason it is not their priority is decause they now face the war on terror… so stop being overly dramatic

  4. Trinidad and Tobago definitely has the potential!

  5. Richard McKenzie

    Sweet TNT, Oh how I Love my country.

  6. Lilu

    It’s about good time, TRINIDAD gets RECOGNIZED!
    Geewiz! Yes we do have a ton of talent there. Go sweet, sweet TRINIDAD! LAND OF OIL AND MUSIC!

  7. AntjeWW

    I am very proud to be a trini and will be checking out the magazine for sure. It pains me though to read what Joel has stated above which is so true as we seem to have lost the warmth and humility we once had and some nationals have placed themselves on this imaginary pedestal which is destroying the very core of our being as an island nation. Our new motto has become, “It’s all about ME and Selfishness reigns”. Sad.

  8. To me, Trinidad has been on the verge of becoming something bigger since I was a teenager. I have been hearing this for years….as if we always just at the top of the competition , but never place in the first five…….then we are forgotten about for a while till the next Gen begins adding their creative / international input. I wish we would stop “beginning to blossom” and just bloom already!!!

  9. unfortunately, all the potential and talent that trinidad has will amount to nothing if we continue to celebrate and support mediocrity the way we do. people talk a good talk, but the actions (which speak louder than words) are lacking. very few people innovate here simply because innovation is not encouraged. as a matter of fact, innovation is more likely to position one as an outcast, radical, militant etc etc.

    added to this, there is that thing we don’t speak about for more than one reason. the social/class divide that exists (regardless to if we wanna talk bout it or not) is the veil that hides most of the innovation. it hides a lot of the talent. it hides a good bit of the brilliance and genius. the greater part of talented individuals and brilliant ideas never come to the surface because of what i consider to be silly issues and hang ups. the world has seen some good things come out of trini, but they haven’t seen the half. hell, they haven’t seen the tenth.

    i support trinidad lookbook and i’m glad that mel decided to stick to it. i’m sure she would have been discouraged along the way judging from my experience publishing a local magazine years ago. and it was worse then because the landscape had nothing else like it. people didn’t get it then, and they still wouldn’t be up to speed as they should now. but i feel glad when i see these new mags coming out because it tells me the work wasn’t for zilch.

  10. Trina


  11. Still inspite of some of the comments above. I LOVE MY COUNTRY.<3.

  12. Kevin

    I like this piece.. but I have to say if Trinidad market its entertainment(music,art,nightlife and so on) and cultural sectors more it will become a powerhouse.(Trinidad is already a powerhouse in the Caribbean)…Look at Soca music for example Trinidad already has that covered no other island can come close to making Soca music as good as Trinidad..and if they market it properly to the could take off..Trinidad is a country ripe with talented people and if they get the exposure that they need..I don’t think the world will be disappointed.. with that being..I’m absolutely proud of my country and I’m definitely proud to tell anyone where I’m from…

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