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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Spice Mas Camp Visit

Spice opened their mas camp yesterday for viewing and registration, of course I went to check it out as they made a lime out of the event. I was a bit too early for the lime but did get a chance to observe the costumes in detail before more and more people came later on. Ok, so the showroom is all new and nice looking, a tad small so only one costume from each section was displayed and just two frontlines; Scotch Bonnet and Golden Basil. Photographs of the male costumes were on show. I inspected the costumes from top to bottom, checking out the construction, materials used, wear and tear after photo shoots/modeling and overall aesthetic to the eye of a potential masquerader.

But before I get to the costumes, let’s talk about the prices which are hot!! To tell you the truth once I saw prices I started to worry, worry about what is in store for TRIBE ( and Island People) if we are to use Spice as a measuring stick. I know for a fact that the design team responsible for 8 of Spice's sections, Richard & Anthony Productions, have also done backline and frontline costumes, some section headpieces, backpacks and 14 out of the 16 male sections for TRIBE! So, we can expect to see even more detailed costumes, bigger headpieces and some show stoppers from this design team AND the stalwarts of TRIBE. I shudder to think of what THEIR prices are going to be!

Spice's backline costumes range from $2695.00 (Garden of Sage) to $3495.00 (Peppercorns) and frontline costumes from $3795.00 (Cardamom) to $4800.00 (Peppercorns), the latter is more than I paid for my frontline costume this year. Males $2500.00 (Brown Sugar & Garden of Sage) to $2900.00 (Peppercorns), I was expecting prices to be more competitive but looks like Spice has priced themselves in the same bracket as the two big guns; humph! Are people forgetting that a recession is affecting the whole wide world? Kaotic has priced all their backline female costumes between $2895.00 to $2995.00 and all their males are $2395.00. I am hoping their frontlines are all under $4000.00 seeing as for the most part they are just a backpack option, and while the prices are by no means cheap half of their backline costumes do not cross $3000.00 like Spice and the males prices are fair.

And though, even after saying that, I might still personally justify a similar price for a costume I absolutely love in another band (best believe I am NOT going over my budget no matter how much I am in love) at least part of my justification will be based on some history with the band. Spice has nothing to stand up on, as yet, except for some attractive costumes. Hence the reason I thought as a new band, they might have worked their way up the pricing scale based on post Carnival reviews of their debut. Well, I hope that the level of organization we have seen from them to date will extend itself above and beyond when it comes to costume distribution, costume quality and the whole road experience; big money means BIG expectations!

As for the costumes, I took close up photos so you can see them in much better detail, click on ALL photos for a super sized close up view.

Mediterranean Borage
Backline- 3495
Male -2700

Scotch Bonnet
Frontline- 3795
Backline- 2795
Male -2650

Golden Basil
Backline- 3295
Male -2600

Frontline- 4195
Male -2600

Sea Salt
Male -2600

Garden of Sage
Backline - 2,695.00
Male - 2,500.00

Frontline-3 795
Backline- 2995
Male -2600

Brown Sugar
Frontline -3995
Backline- 2895
Male -2500

Melilot Blue
Backline- 3395
Male -2700

Male -2900

I am liking Melilot Blue backline, but Sea Salt and Golden Basil has my vote for the best overall costume in terms of pricing and product. I really, really like Sea Salt and Golden Basil frontline. On closer observation I am not feeling Peppercorns backline that much and I think it might be the headpiece, I wish the frontline was there so I could have observed the backpack as I still love it. Budget frontline H.O.s will love Scotch Bonnet, the frontline has a lot of impact (and A LOT of red) for $3795.00, compare that to Cardamom frontline which, coupled with Paprika frontline, has got to be the most overpriced frontlines on offer!

Cardamon's "frontline" is actually just a slightly bigger headpiece, not even as big as Sea Salt's massive headgear while Paprika's frontline is a WIRE bar and eight strands of beads (I counted) on a minuscule belt; this costume looks "inexpensive" and I cannot believe the pricing! Garden of Sage is going to be a seller, yes, wait and see, just based on price alone and the fact that you get that big feathery headpiece on the cheap; hey, some people might actually take to the neon green. Mediterranean Borage did attract a good bit of attention from what I observed maybe that is why it was one of the first to sell out; it is still pretty and a nice colour combination but pretty pricey. As for Brown Sugar, it is a sexy nude looking costume, but I still do not like the backline headpiece! Most of the costumes seemed to have held up well with the wear and tear of several photo shoots and modeling, however I did see some gems come undone here and there, most obviously on the bra strap for Cardamom (see close up photo); if I were the Spice team I would do some repairs ASAP.

There was a pretty good turnout at the mas camp with a few people registering while we were there. I like that they are not doing the S, M, L,XL bras and have a space for you to write your actual BRA SIZE on the registration form. In spite of the high prices Spice seems to have tickled the fancy of the young and young at heart who made up a contingent of potential masqueraders admiring the skimpy, bejeweled costumes! To check them out your self, the mas camp is located opposite Bat and Ball restaurant and bar at the Oval, next to Invaders panyard, right where the big Caribbean Airlines sign is located... hopefully by the time you get there they would have erected a big SPICE sign to point you in the right direction!


xVx said...

I love the fact that you highlighted 'Are people forgetting that a recession is affecting the whole wide world?' Spice should have came in a little lower, in a lot of the cases the pricing makes no god damn sense. Look at Brown Sugar for instance, and Cardamom is blatantly a back line costume. I am in doubt about Spice.

xVx said...

Oh and thanks for the extreeeeeeme close ups, Sauce. Much appreciated.

But am I silly for saying that not all the costume look there is just something missing. I have yet to do my review, but its because I as much as I am impressed I am not totally sold.

dajewel1982 said...

i think the costumes are beautiful!! however, those prices??? there are alot of companies that are offering the same services that they have been historically offering, but at a cheaper price due to the come SPICE didn't follow suit?? thanks for the close up photos, saucy!

chris said...

Afro Chic mentioned that she found Spice to be coming off a bit cocky and I commented that because they have done such a great job thus far, maybe we should give them a bligh and let them have their moment. However, Spice's pricing has proven Afro Chic right. How can a brand new band be priced so highly?

A few weeks ago, before the costumes were showcased, a very good source told me that costumes would not be priced over $3500, including frontlines. It seems that because the feedback has been positive, Spice has decided to price within similar range as the "big guns".

The pricing of the costumes reeks of cockiness. Spice could have kept up its excellent momentum by having the fabulous costumes and pricing more competitively.

jt said...

last night i went down to tribe camp to but my tickets only to see a note saying SOLD OUT so i call a friend that talk to some one that let got me my tickets @$300 each

any how i just want to add to what you said **more detailed costumes, bigger headpieces and some show stoppers**

yes yes tribe have birds looking really good
i got a good look at the
pink/red not to sure which it was cause i saw it in the night
and white

the white head piece big
all my wife keep telling me is that i want that

that's me she was ever sure that the one there was in her size
so i could image the price the price behind those and and the rest we'll see tonight

Saucy aka "The Sauce" said...

ohhhhhhhhhhhh JT doh be calling up my section before these heifers see it!!! YELLOW KISKADEE IS THE BOMB!!!!

jt said...

lol!!!!!!!!yes kiskadee hott and the headpiece tall with lots of feathers that one was well done

i don't really care what section we play in nah once i'm inside tribe i good but my wife she want that

chris said...

Steups. Yuh see, this is the obsession that I just don;t need right now! All dis talk about costumes, colours, etc and I am NOT IN TRINIDAD. And it's 4:45pm where I am, but 10:45am in Trinidad. So when i thinking just a few more hours to go for the launch, is really plenty more than that! And I keep refreshing the blog to see if there are any last minute updates. I have to close this page and NOT open it back up till tomorrow when I know for sure there will be costumes for me to view. I cyah take it!!!!!!!





trinbajan in toronto said...

When I saw Spice's prices last night, I was in shock. I understand that the costumes are hot, but they have to realize that they are a new band. You can't put yourself in the same category as Tribe and IP. In my opinion, some of those backlines should be no more than $2500.

Hot said...

Saucy this is M. As you know I follow the blog via regular updates from Hot. I am using Hot's user profile here, with permission of course, to offer some insight if I may.

Pricing analysis

The Spice backline costumes range from TT $2695 - TT$3500.

5 Sections (one half of the band) are priced below TT $2995
5 Sections (the other half of the band)are priced bewteen TT$ 3295 - TT$3495

If we use Kaotic's prices as a gauge (bearing in mind that the quality of materials are less expensive than those of the Spice costumes), one half of the Spice band is priced competitively,in some cases below, another new band Kaotic.

Secondly, if we consider that most of Tribe's good female backline costumes were priced at $3195 and upwards this year.Then it is a reasonable expectation that the other half of the band is competitvely priced with Tribe's 2008 prices.

Worth considering also is the fact that costume prices are not a reflection of costume costs plus a reasonable markup ONLY, BUT costume costs inlcusive of drinks costs, food costs,security, road management, marketing, ANNUAL operating costs etc. plus a reasonable markup.

Finally, the US may be in a recession but Trinidad is in a boom and this has resulted in hyper-inflation. If you live in Trinidad you will certainly know what I am talking about. Added to this is the fact that our economy is at full employment. The net result is that cost of basic goods and services have risen tremendously since Carnival 2008 and the trend is expected to continue.In addition, connections reveal that the Government is considering yet another increase on the excise duty for alcohol which, if implemented, will naturally drive costs up even further.

For Spice to guarantee a top of the line product and service we have to ensure that our pricing will allow us to cover the cost of the relevant support services. I know the detailed costs and trust me, the final cost does not involve no 100% markup / profit. In fact the final markup is in line with the standard business markup.

Taking all of this into consideration I do not think the prices offered are unreasonable, in fact I would say they are very reasonable. For what its worth, I understand that Tribe lowest price will be starting at TT $3500. But I guess we will have to wait and see.

Saucy aka "The Sauce" said...

you make a good point about Trinidad being a boom which is reflected in the high inflation rate for goods and services.

I did say I was worried about TRIBE's prices based on the pricing for Spice knowing that the same designers designed for both bands.

The thing is though,if you would permit me to speak freely, TRIBE is TRIBE and this is their 5th year (Carnival 2009) with a solid footing in the Carnival industry. Spice is new, and yes you have to cover your bases and ensure that you have the finances to pull off a good first year, but most business in their first year of operation do not make a huge profit; thus in my opinion the prices could have been lower, lower the profit line, to get the masqueraders, show them an excellent time and raise prices for 2010.By the way I heard that TRIBE's prices might stay around the same as this year.. we shall see.

If you look at the statistics of the visitors to this blog more than half are foreigners who are being affected by the inflation globally. The thing is I know several of them were looking at Spice as being the affordable option so that they CAN make it back for Carnival. Ticket prices are exorbitant, hotel prices are exorbitant, fetes WILL go up in price so the entire Carnival budget for these foreigners are thousands of dollars. Cheaper costumes or should I say more competitive prices are attractive as honestly not all of them can or are willing to pay TRIBE and Island People's prices .

I have no doubt that Spice will get support,the reviews have been very favorable, but I stand by my opinion that the prices are a bit higher than what I and others were expecting.

mimi said...

well spice, i still think prices could lower just a bit quite honestly, although u have a good following, there are still many people out there who r atill asking me what is spice? who r they? what band they break away from? So my best advice to u all is don't get ahead of urself!

mimi said...

every business person knows about PLC Product life cycle, in the first stage, the product will sell for a below than avergae cost as to attract a consumer base, thus most times the business experiences a loss in the first yr, then gradually the price increases!
basically what im trying to say is, ur prices should've been lower like uncer 3000 and then next yr u could've begin to increase to about 3200. Most persons like myself were looking forward to seeing affordable costumes from Spice as saucy said because not everyone wants to pay the tribe and ip price

buublenut said...

The costumes are nice but if I forking out that kind of money I would be more inclined to play with Tribe (that is if they have space)

I feel Spice will get away with there prices when Tribe sells out but for now anyone who was betweeen the 2 will definetly be waiting to see what Tribe has to offer. If the prices were lower people may have jumped on Spice right away but I am sure we will now all wait to see what else will come out in the market.

And definelty inflation is evident in Trinidad but I yet to see wages increase so although we may have had to widen our bbudget for food and stuff I a little reluctent to increase my costume budget at the moment (but hey thats just me)

quiksilver said...

like the elements 'gamble' analogy might be accuarate indeed....

i think it IS a gamble to pay that much for costumes in a new band.

if that's the price of mas in 2008 then i playing with a band that has a track record!

DC Chica said...

Well, I agree with Quicksilver and what saucy said earlier. I am abroad, coming with foreigners who are feeling the pinch over here and who have never been to Trinidad. Flight prices are INSANE for this time of year, I also checked hotel prices and they are out of control. At this point, I could pay for a package to celebrate Carnival in Brazil for MUCH LESS!!!!

But I am Trini and want my friends to experience my Carnival...we all love Spice's costumes, but if their prices are just $100 to $300 TT below Tribe's, I will play in Tribe. Everyone know's playing with a new band is a gamble. I'll only end up in Spice, if Tribe is sold out at this point. I cant bring people here with these high prices and risk them getting bad service... though I know Spice is working hard to avoid this, hiccups will take place.

Deniece said...

I am thankful for this site because I have been studying for the last 4 years so my last knowledge of carnival is Poison, so this is very helpful for me. So far Kaotic has struck me as a band with good business sense, in that they followed the rule of starting small (size and price) then based of the performance of their first year they could change to suit.

While away, I have head a lot of negatives about tribe and Island People and we all know that in Trinidad word of mouth takes precedence over all and I knew on my return those were not bands that I would have liked to play with. This is why I am happy to have even more options.

princessredz said...

Price!! Lawd have mercy! If Spice had come cheaper, I'd have jumped in there one time and taken the chance with them as first-timers, but as it stands, I might stick to old faithful who has shown me a good time for a couple years running...

Also less impressed with the costumes on close inspection for the most part. Although that usually tends to be the case for me, but still. I not feeling Brown Sugar so much anymore, and the Peppercorns headpice has turned me off too.

Oh well, we'll see what's on offer tonight!!!!

Hot said...

Ok M here again, using Hot's profile one last time. Going to turn you all back over to Hot after this and try to set up my own profile when I have some time today.

Saucy, points taken and don't get me wrong, these prices were debated at length with the executive until about 5am Friday morning.

But the main thing everyone has to understand is that any expectation of pricing in the range of 2008 is unrealistic. Oil has gone up and so has EVERYTING else. To expect lower prices in an ALL-INCLUSIVE band in 2009 is like expecting to pay less for gas at the pump today.

Let me give you a few examples as they relate to basic goods. A loaf of bread in Trinidad was about $6 - $7 about a year ago. That same loaf is now $11. A doubles was $2 about year ago. That same doubles is now $4 - $5. Carib's prices per case have gone up over the last year between $20-$40 per case. Likewise there have been price increases for all other alcoholic and non-alcholic beverages. EVERY single beverage from Coke to Fruta to Malta to Water have increased.

As for services, freight and transport which are directly related to the price of oil have skyrocketed. A worker who would take $150 a day a year ago now demands $250-$300.Etc., Etc.

I could go on and on but hopefully the point has been made and please do not ignore the fact that TNT mas is rife with band failures, even recent ones such as Barbarossa, Skandalous, Funtasia. This is an extremely HIGH RISK business.

All bands, old and new face the same costs, there is no escaping them. These costs determine the FINAL cost of the overall product. After that its just to determine the retail price based on an applied markup.

Spice in particular has gone the extra mile by using materials and producing costumes which average at almost 2 times the cost of what is NORMALLY offered by other bands. A bead is not just a bead and a stone is not just a stone. there are various qualities.Ask the persons in the industry who understand costing and they will tell you that the materials we have used are of a very high quality.

Now, the was an option for us to move away from all-inclusive, but our target market said they preferred all-inclusive and would probably not play with the band if it did not offer and all-inclusive option. We did toy with other options that included some all inclusive, some non-inclusive and some cart sections but felt that was not a manageable model for us in our first year as a band. Mind you, I would like to point out that the genesis of the 3-tiered option, which Elements now brazenly touts as their own, was developed by members of Spice and was discussed in confidentiality with a member of that band over 18 months ago. At the time that member sat in all of our meetings and soaked up all of our ideas. Eventually he stopped attending meetings, said he could not commit because he was busy with other things and quietly went off and formed his own band.

I am pointing this out because the possibility does exist, depending on the economy and inflation, that we MAY adopt this model in 2010. If we do I don't want anyone to say we have stolen or copied an idea that was ours in the first place.

Mimi, Spice will not make any money in 2009 or 2010. There is no huge profit margin rather a projection of a breakeven or even possibly a small loss. The markups on SOME of the sections are very small and when averaged out across the band give an overall return that in my opinion is not reasonable and exposes the company to too much risk should there be any unforseen changes. It was however the general feeling of the group that no one was expecting a return in the short run. Fortunately for us the band is very well financed and the prime objective has been to put out a really good product in terms of costume and experience from start to finish. This is what we are about. Many of us are involved primarily because of our passion for the mas and a strong desire to bring something to it or as we say INFUSE THE MAS.

We have thus far spared no expense in terms of ensuring that the final product being offered to our masqueraders is of a very high standard. I think I can be bold enough to say with confidence that the standards set by our media launch, band launch and now our showroom (not mas camp)surpass anything that has been offered before by a band in its first year. Saucy the sign going up in 2-3 weeks, when it does you won't be able to miss it.

Anyway, I really do not wish to come across cocky, as some have been accussing HOT and by extension the band of being, I am just trying to ask you to give us the credit due to us and I am sure Saucy can attest to the fact that the members of our team are polite, humble, fun-loving individuals.

The reason however that I am making the points about what we have done up to now, is in an effort to assure you that if you like what you see so far, that the best is yet to come. What our team intends to do for our masqueraders on the road will hopefully blow their minds and I want to assure potential masqueraders that it is our intention to ensure that the on the road experience surpasses anything that has ever experienced before in terms of high quality and fun.

With that said, I would like to thank you all for your time. I hope this very lengthy email will clear things up and will be received in the right way. May God bless you all.

I turn you back over to Hot.


DC Chica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DC Chica said...

Thanks for those words M.

I must say that I can appreciate you and Hot coming on here an explaining your case. I think you should be proud of the interest you've generated for a new band.

On the other hand, as a masquerader with tourists in tow, I have to be real careful about this whole mas decision. Glad to hear you plan to bring a lot of service - keep us posted on the website about some of these perks, because I need to get as much info as possible in doing my cost benefit analysis. I have experience playing with Tribe and love the service I get there.

dajewel1982 said...

oh, and on closer inspection, i can see how people were liking borage because the color combo of the purple and brown. however, the stones dropping off are a big problem...hope they rectify that. also, i have a more appreciation for the beading on the paprika backline bra. nice!!

quiksilver said...

i think it is quite debatable whether the people who present themselves as being affiliated with spice are in fact " polite, humble, fun-loving individuals".

an overview of the comments left on previous posts may have readers thinking that the said people are borderline arrogant and there seems to be a continuous bashing of the elements band.

competition is rife. the veterans go on stage tonight. good luck.

quiksilver said...

i will say however that i've interacted with anya and nicholas of spice and i would say that they ARE in fact very polite humble and fun-loving individuals!

Hot said...

Hi, Hot here again. Turned you guys over to M for a M could write....give M a chnace and he would have written a book (ha,ha)....sorry M....but I'm still gonna have to change my password :>. Anyway hope your questions were answered. Quik since you know Anya and Nick ask them to tell you about some of the behind the scences things that the said band have done to Tribe and Spice. Its not about bashing.... its just about making some of the facts and truth publicly known. The entire Spice team is attending the Tribe launch tonight. We going early.Its our turn to party, drink, get wasted and take in some nice costumes.....while someone else manages and worries about the details. See y'all there....well maybe not see.....since none of us really know each other.....but you catch the drift. Saucy we tuning in in the AM for reviews.....

Carnival Diva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mimi said...

M I appreciate you coming on here and writing to us, it shows that SPICE really does have a good customer service sense going on here. I have infact askes Anya and Nicholas some question via FB and they seem to be quite nice and helpful in deed! I really am considering you guys to play with, so don't let us potential masqueraders down!

Raeness said...

I don't know but the more I look at Spice's costumes the less appealing they appear to me. ...le sigh. Waits patiently for Tribe launch pics.

dcarnivalbaby said...

I must agree with what seems the majority. I was extremely impressed with the costumes. Some more than others. But come on. I actually sat there and compared prices of the one I liked most (which was paprika) with the one I liked most in Island People (Kingfisher Bird) the prices were almost identical. I dont know, prices seem kinda too hot for me as first timers.

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