JSW is the brainchild of Deiwght Peters, CEO of model agency Saint International. A former banker, he began scouting in 2000 and soon expanded into fashion event production. Style Week Jamaica was officially launched in 2005 and has since become a springboard for new models and designers. “I’m aggressive in terms of finding and developing talents and exposing them to a new clientele,” Peters says. “JSW is also a city branding exercise and the dynamics of the event are different to anything else.”
He has placed models with international agencies such as Elite, IMG, Muse and Storm and his marked successes include Shena Moulton, Tafari Hinds, Sam Taylor and Sosheba Griffiths. “Fashion is moving fast here and getting more exciting so I’m proud to promote it,” says NY-based Moulton, who is a favourite of Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander and Calvin Klein.
While local models can soar, designers struggle more due to huge shortfalls in terms of formal fashion education, PR know-how, retail space and access to fabrics. “There is a long way to go but the buzz and visibility created by JSW takes them to the next level,” says a determined Peters, who has forged connections with Parson’s The New School of Design in New York and the London College of Fashion and also supports a government-funded fashion programme for teenagers.
Saint International isn’t fighting the good fight alone, however. Its competition is Pulse Model Management, which has hosted Caribbean Fashion Week in Kingston since 2001. This year’s event runs from June 7 to 11 and boasts a performance by Estelle and fashion show by Cedella Marley (daughter of Bob). As it houses all shows in one indoor venue, the two warring weeks have different appeals yet together are helping to feed a growing home-grown potential for the business of fashion. “Jamaicans are the best dressed people in the world,” claims JSW designer Tanya Cameron. “So I believe that within the next five years, Jamaica will be the place to be for fashion.” Irie.