“DR has all the potential to be the fashion center of the Caribbean”

To create a tourist destination intertwined with fashion, it is necessary to integrate the local industry and strengthen its operations at the state level until it becomes an attraction from the inside out, making events produced and created by Dominicans relevant to the foreign eye, said fashion marketing and communication expert Sophia Sanabria.

Do designers and big brands have the power to attract tourists?

Of course they do. Fashion, besides being an industry with a business model that appeals to the consumption of goods, is nowadays also considered a form of entertainment. This is reflected in the efforts of fashion brands to engage in different conversations beyond the sale of clothing, such as video games, showbiz events, the creation of experiences such as cafes or museums around a brand.

In addition to this, fashion is a reflection of the culture or identity of the roots of its creators. For example, a brand like Yves Saint Laurent, founded in Paris, France, and whose stylistic DNA refers to “Parisian chic”, has a museum in the city where its former offices were located when the designer was still alive. Likewise, he used to spend his vacations in Morocco where he had a villa that witnessed the creative process of his collections, and today, it is also a museum that attracts many tourists in this city.

However, it is worth noting that these are efforts not only of the designers to create this type of attraction, but also of the State to promote a destination as a place to consume and soak up fashion.

Is the DR a great fashion destination; is it known and valued for it?

It is not a great fashion destination, however, it has all the potential to be the fashion center of the Caribbean, taking advantage of the dimension and growth of Latin American fashion. In fact, this year, the Dominican Republic hosted the Raíces by Latin American Fashion Summit, a learning and business networking scenario for the fashion industry, which was supported by the Ministry of Tourism. Similarly, the first edition of the Latin American Fashion Awards will be held in the Dominican Republic on November 4, 2023, with the participation of more than twenty countries and two strategic venues, our country and Milan, which will recognize the work of designers, brands, models, photographers, directors and more. This indicates that the country is beginning to be valued as a space to develop international events.

However, to create a tourist destination intertwined with fashion, it is necessary to integrate the local industry and strengthen its operations at the state level until it becomes an attraction from the inside out, making relevant the events produced and created by Dominicans in the foreign eye.

Which designers are taking giant steps to internationalize the industry?

There are designers who are taking steps to achieve their internationalization as in the case of Monica Varela entering the Mexican department store La Puerta de Hierro or JC Lagares presenting his collection under the framework of London Fashion Week. Undoubtedly, Giannina Azar is in a greater dimension of media exposure, very intertwined with the world of show business, dressing not only great Latin stars, but also celebrities such as Beyoncé. Also, being an integral part of international awards shows.

How does this benefit tourism?

When a designer’s work is highlighted, his or her place of origin is always highlighted as an intrinsic part of his or her style or inspiration, and this is beneficial for that country as long as this opportunity is taken advantage of. Its benefit goes directly to the motivation of foreigners to come to know an area where a particular raw material such as Larimar is born, or to come to specific events; and not only in entering foreign currency in travel and lodging, but also in the consumption and purchase of Dominican pieces. And of course, the expansion of the message in the visitors’ environments.

What should we bet on to boost fashion hand in hand with tourism?

The talent and potential of Dominican designers is a fact, what delays the process is the lack of structure of the Dominican fashion industry. This refers to the fact of not having enough union unification to opt for improvements in their operational needs. This is evidenced not only by those of us who observe and analyze the industry as such, but also by institutions such as ProDominicana, who have developed a situation analysis of the current situation of the local fashion industry, where it was concluded that the fact of not being able to show itself as a solid productive unit is a cause for not exponential growth of the same.

For in the case of state support, we have nearby examples such as Colombia, where the government not only appears as a sponsor but as the main promoter of this industry and other professions that make up the orange economy. With these two ideas, it is clear that what we must bet on is the structure and a joint work by fashion businesses and relevant public institutions.

The fashion industry is growing in the DR with new designers, how important is this?

On the one hand, we can say that the entry of new designers is important for the diversification of the industry. For this, it is necessary that there are not only proposals of the same nature, but to expand into different product categories such as footwear, lingerie, accessories, among others. It is important to understand that without the necessary structure as a sector, what we are experiencing at present will continue to evolve; mostly individual efforts to boost fashion business without necessarily being tied to a “country brand” that urgently needs to be built.


The work of a designer always highlights his place of origin as an intrinsic part of his style or inspiration”.

Source: Elcaribe.com


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