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Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, has praised Jamaica’s approach to the development of the creative industries, noting that the country’s economic future would depend heavily on this sector.
Mr. Alemanni, who was in Brussels, Belgium for the international Culture and Creativity Conference held April 2-3, said that Jamaica was a leader among African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the cultural sectors and would reap rich economic benefits in the future if focus was maintained on the creative industries.
The European Commission funded Jamaica’s fashion industry delegation to Brussels under the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The group had two successful shows, impressing leading designers, models, buyers and other fashion insiders.
Mr. Alemanni said Jamaica was making a difference in the world in terms of how developing countries viewed their cultural resources. “Jamaica has historically been a ground breaker in considering culture as an industry. This is not just culture as some sort of a decorative aspect of political life and social life. Jamaicans are using music, fashion, sport, as industries to foster the nation’s development. I think Jamaica is a shining example for many ACP countries,” he stated.
Mr. Alemanni’s comments were endorsed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pulse Investments Kingsley Cooper, who headed Jamaica’s fashion consortium to the conference. He said the country had built a solid reputation in fashion and now faced the challenge to convert that into economic benefits.
“We have a lot of work to do. We have done very well with the models but now we have to seriously look at how we market our designers and how we sell products,” he stated.
He said that two-day conference and subsequent fashion show, provided “an excellent opportunity for us because we have buyers, stockists, press and other interests from Antwerp, Paris and other parts of the European Community showing interest in our lines.
“Our main event here is about market penetration that is focussed on bringing the business of Jamaican fashion to Europe. If we consider it in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Jamaica is considered very competitive in this respect and the creative industry is where we will have our advantage,” Mr. Cooper said.
Jamaica staged a flawless fashion show on Saturday night (April 4), displaying collections from local designers including Biggy, Sandra Kennedy and Juliette Dyke.
Biggy, who started from very humble beginnings designing outfits for entertainers in the 1980s, described his first experience in Europe as “awesome.”
“We have worked long and hard to get here. We have always known that this was possible. Now that we have this experience, the sky is the limit,” he told JIS News.
Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports Olivia Grange, said she was impressed with the quality of the show. “This is about Brand Jamaica. It is about sharing those things that we love and treasure with a world audience. The interest shown by the international fashion industry is very encouraging and the future looks bright,” she noted.
Jamaican supermodel Jaunelle McKenzie said the occasion provided the opportunity to showcase Jamaican designers. “We have been doing well for a long time and we have always been confident in our abilities and our products. As models, we have done well in the world but often with other designers’ products. Now we have a chance to show the world a more wholesome picture of our fashion industry,” she stated.
The European Commission-organised conference brought together all the countries of the ACP to discuss the challenges facing the creative sectors as developing countries seek to capitalise on the EPA signed with the European Community.
Among the special guests were members of the Belgian royal family and Head of Jamaica’s Mission to the European Communities, Ambassador Marcia Gilbert-Roberts and internationally renowned fashion designer Edouard Vermeulen.

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