Designer Ecliff Elie returned to Trinidad empty handed after his recent presentation of his Resort Menswear Collection in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad’s Guardian reports.
“One lady bought my entire collection,” he said from his retail store in Woodbrook.
The other good news is he has an order from Bequia, the second largest island in the Grenadines.
Elie was invited to attend Lime Fashion Caribbean, that boasts of being the premier fashion event in the Caribbean for this year. Elie was one of 14 designers from the region—including Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada and the British Virgin Islands.
The event spanned two days—a catwalk presentation on day one and a trunk show on day two, which attracted buyers from the Caribbean, Europe, North and South America.
Elie’s resort collection was colourful and trendy yet carried his trademark penchant for well-tailored work.
Elie is one of few designers who place emphasis on men’s wear in T&T. Originally from Chaguanas, he moved to Arima at a young age. He started his tailoring business at age 14, making trousers for “partners” in school. Back then, they didn’t pay him but they brought their material so he could make their uniform pants. He has also sewn for family and friends.
His first store was quite noticeable on the Eastern Main Road, Arima, just before Hollis Avenue. It was there for 18 years until he decided it was time to move West where he opened his store at Rosalino Street in November last year.
“My Arima store was a hub for customers and 80 per cent was from San Fernando and seven per cent from the West. Now that I am in Port-of-Spain, I kept the South base and increased the West base. So it was a business decision,” he said.
Elie, who was named Caribbean Fashion Designer – Male in 2010 Caribbean Fashion Awards at Barbados Fashion Week, said his clothes are classic menswear with a focus on a nice fit. He has dressed attorneys, sports personalities, and Calypso Monarch 2016 Devon Seales. Minister of Finance Colm Imbert wore the label when he presented the National Budget in Parliament last October.
Traditional suits come in greys, blacks and blues. Elie has also included lively tribal and floral prints in his line, taking advantage of the Christmas and Carnival seasons as those shirts were either considered presents or part of an all-inclusive party ensemble.
With 27 years in business, Elie says he has not stopped growing. Before he was solely responsible for measuring, cutting and stitching. Now he is in manufacturing mode, with a team of tailors and stitchers who work right beside the retail store.
Growth for Elie is also about sharing. He gives back in the classroom, speaking to students at YTEPP and he has made an appearance at Belmont Secondary School’s career day.
“There are no secrets to the trade,” he said. “I remember once I had a problem with a pants, and I asked a tailor to help me. The man refused, telling me ‘I can’t share what I know.’ If both of us in the same business, there is nothing that we don’t know. It’s about making the profession better.”
After the success of Lime Fashion Caribbean, Elie continues developing more for his line. He plans to introduce his luxury collection in June and he has already begun working on his collection for 2017.
“We don’t wait,” he said.