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Monday, October 02, 2006


Trini Revellers' launch is in two weeks but another special section launched on Saturday. D Krewe showed their 2007 presentation "Royalty" at NCC's clubhouse on Saturday night. I had no prior knowledge of their launch or else I would have been there !

You can see photos of the section launch on Islandevents. The costumes are looking very good!!!

You see how Trinidad is a SMALL country, I just got some more information on this section through a friend who knows one of the committee members!

Ok,the section is all-inclusive (the usual premium drinks,breakfast and lunch) prices for backline costumes will be aproximately $2000.00 with frontline more expensive but still affordable (read LESS than $3000.00).The mas camp is opened for business, the address is #62 Warren Street, Woodbrook (next to Fatima College, Red Building).

phone: 622-8834
email address:
webite: (expected to be up by the end of the week).

Since we are talking prices.....

My husband and I were having a discussion on what it really costs to produce and all-inclusive section these days and how much profit these band leaders are making. His take is that most business offering a specialized product mark up by 100 to 120%,(the additional 20% being a buffer for giving discounts so even with a discount they still get their 100% target.

When it comes to carnival, especially with bands being labeled as "the ultimate" when it comes to the all-inclusive experience, my husband thinks the profit is really closer to 100%. I decided to prove his summation by trying to estimate the cost to produce a costume, including the cost of the all-inclusive element.

The costume I am looking at is Le Soleil Brule and it's not that I am picking on that particular designer, but the costume is the easiest to price since it is basically just fabric. Calling around to various fabric stores Organza (the fabric the costume is made of) is between $16.95 to $24.95 a yard. Being quite generous I estimate using 2 yards of fabric for that costume, simply because all those layers have to be cut on a bias to get the fabric falling like that.

One of my friends used to bring a section in Poison so I got the pricing for the bras and panty from her, she gets a price of $80.00 for a padded, underwire bra with underwear but the regular price is closer to $120.00. The headpiece for that costume is basically a bandeau covered in sequins and a rosette broach is holding the belt piece together with rosettes on the foot, wrist and headpiece, . I estimate the bandeau to cost $10.00 and the rosettes a at a generous $50.00.Now lets add in the cost of labour since we all know Sonia has her costumes made, and each person is paid $250.00 to sew and assemble a costume:

With that this is my estimated costing of the costume:

Fabric - $50.00
Bra/underwear - $120.00
Bandeau -$10.00
Roesttes - $50.00
Sequins - $20.00
labour - $250.00
TOTAL - $500.00 or $80.00US

Now special sections in these all-inclusive bands pay a "band fee" which apart from being allowed to be under the umbrella of the band's name/image and the perks that brings in terms of sponsorship,it also covers costume marketing/promotion, housing, security, costume display, registration and the all-inclusive package.Some bands also charge VAT, hence the reason the outside sections usually costs more than the band owned sections.I am guessing that the band fee for Island People is $1000.00 per masquerader, so based on that the new price of the costume with the all-inclusive package is $1500.00. The cost of that costume is $2895.00 which gives a profit of $1395.00 or 93% of the cost price.

On the website for Le Soleil Brule I see sponsors listed as "STAG", "Blue Waters" and "Johnny Walker", therefore I am to believe that these sponsors are offsetting some of the costs such as website hosting, photoshoot, paying models etc. Therefore that profit is going directly to the section leader. At approximately 250 masqueraders per section, that profit is working out to a sweet sum of $348,750.00 TT!

So, if this is a hypothetical cost to produce a section imagine what it costs to produce a band with big name sponsors like Digicel and TSTT covering costs such as music and security and other sponsors donating items for goody bags AS WELL AS CASH!!!!!

These bands can easily offer costumes for $2000.00 and still make a tidy profit, but apart from the smaller bands, who ironically really DO need sponsorship which they do not get and barely make a profit come Ash Wednesday, we are seeing prices going up and up and up!!

I have stated before and I will state again, as much as I love Carnival if the trends continue I will be priced out! I am not going to pay anything more for my costume next Carnival than what I am paying now. And the price today is still expensive for what it is, the only "comfort" I can take is that unlike being just fabric the costume does have some substance in that it is well decorated and has a little backpack with feathers (which are the most expensive part of the costume). In addition I can see where my money is going, all the niceties we got for registration like an air conditioned room with refreshments, as well as a the efficiently designed website is all part of what I am paying for and in a sense it is also part my fault.

We as masqueraders, well the ones who want all the extras, have been pushing for more and more new experiences on the road and that also drives the prices up; tell me do we really need a locate the band service or mobile resting stations, both of which I have never used ? All I really need is music, security, drinks and a lunchstop. To be honest with you I don't even need lunch or snacks, the ideal situation would be to have vendors at the lunch stop selling food and snacks, which encourages the small man to also get a piece of the pie as well. I don't ever need to find the band because I am always on time and in the event that I do I can call a friend who is IN the band to find out where they are.

I think Harts has a very good idea offering the cart system, therefore masqueraders can choose whether they want all-inclusive or not (though I still can't justify the price of some of their costumes) which will make it affordable for more people to play mas. The more popular bands with the ridculously high prices can possibly look at this option for the future. Another price increase for costumes will see me in a band that can meet my budget or sitting out Carnival that year!

How come they are not sold out as yet ?

It's two weeks since the beginning of TRIBE's registration and the band has yet to be completely sold out, what a difference a year makes, last year they were sold out in two DAYS.

I was one of those "lucky" people who was able to register on the first day they were open for registration in 2005 (same for 2006) and was amazed when I heard that the band was sold out come Monday; the mad rush to get into the band on the Thursday saw the collapse of the wall at the mas camp, registration was suspended and resumed on the Monday at which time all the costumes were allegedly gone. Now, everyone I knew had a theory at that time saying the band was not really "sold out", that they were still registering people on the down low. Truthfully, I know of one guy who did register himself, wife and other family members long after TRIBE claimed to be sold out, however he did it through one of the section designers and they had to take whatever section they got, so some were in South Sea Pearls while others were in Angel Fish.

So, it is quite interesting to see that even though they are sold out online, and several of the more popular sections are gone you can still register for a costume at TRIBE! And it is not as though their biggest competitor Island People is faring any better, they too still have sections available at their mas camp even though I am not too sure about the online availability of costumes.

What is the reason for these new developments? Are masqueraders no longer foaming at the mouth to get into one of these "hot bands, are prices too high or are people fed up of the controversy surrounding both bands? With Poison no longer a player on the Carnival scene I thought for sure that some of those displaced masqueraders would get absorbed into either TRIBE of Island People and both bands would have been sold out by now.

Well I have my theory on this phenomena:

  • Most people were disenheartened to learn that TRIBE would be implementing a T.L.C. system, thinking that once past masqueraders registered the band would be sold out, thus several potential new TRIBE masqueraders registered or plan to register in another band.
  • The cost of the down payment has directly affected many people I know. Several of them could not find the $900.00 to make the down payment on the costume in mid September, many of them were waiting on the month end to be able to afford it.
  • Prices of the costumes has been a big deterrent to those who played mas in 2006, the ones who have gone and ahead and registered have rationalized the price increase individually saying it only raised by a couple hundred dollars or that when it comes to mas they will pay anything to play. But there are people, like my neighbour who played with TRIBE this year , who simply cannot afford the costume. She has told me, as a struggling UWI student whose parents gave her the costume as a gift last year, she simply cannot afford the prices for 2006, if she does play mas she is looking at one of the bands with cheaper costumes. And there are some who can afford the prices but refuse to support the apparent greed of these mas bands.
  • There are much more options for masqueraders now. Last year Island People debuted long after TRIBE was sold out, and offered people something different as well as something else. TRIBE is no longer the only large band offering an ultimate all-inclusive experience, and Island People's costume design has been their biggest draw thus far. Even with no Poison, Pulse 8 is promising to offer exactly what TRIBE is offering in terms of all-inclusive experience and with cheaper costumes so there is no rush for people who are still undecided, they can expect to register with Pulse 8 and still get a costume next month if they choose.
  • Disorganization within Island People as well as the new regulations for overseas masqueraders has made it somewhat difficult to sell out the entire band as yet. Those potential overseas masqueraders who are not disgusted over the whole registration process simply cannot find a way to register. If overseas masqueraders could beat the system and register through a friend or family member who lives in Trinidad I think more costumes would be sold out already. Also, I personally do not believe many costumes were allocated for overseas masqueraders, rumor has it only the first 200 who registered online would be able to get a space in the band.
  • Customers want more out of costume design. I personally believe Island People has set the bar when it comes to costume design and people are unwilling to revert to costumes that have the "Poison" look or are not over the top gorgeous. The hottest sections in TRIBE are gone first, while the ones that most people agree are not as appealing are still available. Even with Island People whose costume designs are great this year, the best sections are sold out while people are left to pick a favourite among what remains. My friends who are playing with Island People liked very few costumes at Pulse 8, saying that the costume looked like what they played in with Poison this year and the only costumes they liked in TRIBE are gone.
So that is my observation on the costume conundrum, for all you know my theories are off the mark and if anyone think sthe real reason why they can let me know. There is no doubt in my mind that both Island People and TRIBE will be sold out soon, it is just interesting to see that trends have now changed since last year.I wonder if for Carnival 2008 any steps will be taken to rectify the aformentioned issues such as the prices and disorganiztation, taking the bitter taste out of some people's mouths , bringing the love of mas back into their hearts.
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