designer_series | rhion romany
“…that balance between class and sexy!”
Happy Monday y’all!
It certainly has been a while since I’ve posted in the designer_series but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on it!
I really have been trying to seek out local designers who specialize in different sectors of the business in order to gain an accurate positioning of the industry – of how far it has come, and how much further it has to go; its strengths and its shortcomings.
So for this edition, I decided to approach the ‘King of Swimwear,’ Mr. Rhion Romany, who shed a lot of insight not only on his brand, but also on the challenges that he has experienced both in the clothing and carnival design arenas.
So…tell me a little bit about your brand?
My brand is named after me – Rhion Romany. I actually started in the fashion industry on the retail side. When I was 20, I owned and operated a small boutique in Woodbrook.
Additionally, I was working for Caesar’s Army – a party promoting brand known for hosting some of the biggest and best carnival parties in the region. I assisted them on the event side – in charge of hospitality.
One year, they decided to launch a line of swimwear for Barbados’ Cropover. The other designers they approached unfortunately weren’t able to commit for various reasons, and so Caesar’s asked me.
I decided to try my hand at design and, due to my experience with international trends having been a buyer for the boutique, the collection was successful.
That was six years ago.
I continued designing the swimwear under the moniker Rhion Romany Bodywear, but over the years I noticed that the clients I was surrounded by were constantly craving more fashion offerings.
And so, I added different facets to the brand including Resort (which includes beach-coverups, maxi dresses, skirts etc), Bridal, Carnival (which includes not only carnival costumes but also Monday Wear), and most recently, Menswear.
I would say my aesthetic is very bold and modern and I really try to bring these qualities to each piece that I design.
“I feel that the brand itself is the embodiment of boldness, timelessness, and sophistication.”
My aim is to provide high-quality products to all my clients and also try to encourage them to take risks.
I want them to not be afraid of how they are viewed for stepping out of the box with their fashion choices, while still maintaining that balance between class and sexy.
So if you had to describe your brand with emojis, it would be?
Who would you say is your ideal client?
My ideal client would be someone who is confident. Actually, they don’t even have to be the most confident person, but confident enough to take risks.
“I love a client who is openminded and who trusts me!”
My favorite part of the design process is to collaborate with my clients, tapping into parts of themselves that they were unaware they had. That really is the most rewarding for me as a designer; to help my clients feels comfortable and confident – but sometimes one can only reach that point after stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
What is a major misconception about you or your brand?
Well, primarily I think that there are two major misconceptions about me.
The first being that people don’t realize how hard I actually work – and how hard it is to balance all the different subcategories of the brand.
I think that most people think that I am working on one aspect of the brand at a time, when in reality I usually am working on multiple projects simultaneously.
I also think that people tend to pigeonhole me as only a swimwear or Monday wear designer.
Maybe that has to do with how I started off?
Maybe it has to do with the fact that in most local and regional articles – like this one – or runway shows, I choose to mainly feature my swimwear?
But what can I do to change that perception other than continue to work hard, put out a variety of products, and do what I’m doing?
…and the industry?
With regards to the industry, most clients really do not seem to know the struggles that take place on the manufacturing side. Even if a designer has dedicated workers and a production team, there still are a number of challenges that we as local designers face in the creation of our products.
“…people demand things instantly…”
Especially when you get into carnival production, clients expect to blink and have everything perfectly ready.
However, this level of expectation really isn’t the client’s fault, as due to online shopping and the nature of today’s world, people demand products instantly.
So I do believe that it is our duty as designers to rise to the challenge of increasing and optimizing our production capabilities – and it definitely is a goal of mine, especially if I want to compete on a global level!
However, realistically we are on a tiny island, and so finding dependable workers in terms of stitchers etc. really can affect not only the turnaround time but also the quality of our products.
Do you have any current frustrations you face within the industry?
To be honest, the production issues included, I think most local designers face the same frustrations.
“We fight over resources, not just in terms of labor, but also materials.”
Because we may not have sole rights to a certain print or fabric, it can be really aggravating to have material overlap with other designers – especially those competing in the same category as you – it invites direct comparison!
As a designer who really tries to give his clients exclusive pieces, sourcing unique materials to facilitate this is a major frustration that I currently face.
And finally, do you have any advice for young creatives in Trinidad, hoping to break into the fashion industry?
I would advise young creatives to not only depend on your talent.
Yes, it is important to work on one’s skills and one should aim to constantly improve at his/her craft. But, ultimately it will be more than just talent that will help one break into this saturated industry.
In today’s world, with the prevalence of social media and all of these new technologies, I really do think it is essential to have a solid understanding of one’s brand and to really hone in and effectively communicate one’s point of differentiation.
Creatives should constantly ask themselves, “What is the product you are selling? How is it different?”
I believe that if you really want to be successful and make your mark on the industry, you need to stand out.
Do the prep work to understand what makes you unique – what is your signature? – and refine that before you eventually make the big jump!
models; Chevelle Britto (@official_chevelle), Megan Ashley (@megzannaja), Monique Rodriguez (@moniquejane97), Shannon Harris (@shanmharris)
photographers; Courtney Chen (@courtney_chen_), Digital Ziggy (@digitalziggy), Ikenna Douglas (@idouglasphoto), Matthew Creese (@matthewcreesephoto)
creative direction & styling of Matthew Creese images; Yannick Gibson (@yarnes08)
assistant styling for Matthew Creese images; Safia Ali (@safia.elena)
all other images courtesy ЯR: Rhion Romany (@rhionromany)