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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dragon Dancers

Legacy launches "Kingdom of the Dragon" on October 18th at The Anchorage, however private sections are already busy promoting, this one is called "Dragon Dancers" and the prices are not bad at all for All-Inclusive:


Carnival 2009 V.I.P. Section

Dragon Dancers

Chinese New Year Dragon Dance showcases the best of Chinese traditions and customs. For centuries, Chinese have shown great belief and respect towards dragon. The people of China have faith in a long held belief that they are descendents of the dragon, an age old conviction which is firmly embedded in their customs and traditions. Whereas in western cultures dragons are usually regarded as a symbol of scare and malevolence, in China the dragon is held in high esteem for its supernatural power, goodness, fertility, vigilance and poise.


NORMAL SECTION - $ 2,200.00 TT V.I.P.
SECTION - $ 2,000.00 TT V.I.P.


Vintage Tuesdays...

Today I have two Post War Carnival articles dated 1946.

During the war for almost six years Carnival celebrations were "restricted" and 1946 marked the return of Carnival in it's full splendor.

You will note that last week I published 1900 -1903, and this week we jumped to 1946, well there are no articles published between 1904 -1945 strangely!

Part 1 can be accessed by this link or downloaded here.

Part 2 can be accessed by this link or downloaded here.


Steel Band

SOURCE: National Cultural Council Cultural Research

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trini Revellers Band Launch Photos

Click the Photo below to be taken to the gallery on

Monday Question time...

It's MONDAY!! Question time once again for our bandleader, please leave a comment or email me your questions at

TWO questions that the band leader missed last week:

  • Are bands like yours doing anything to re-develop the local industry instead of outsourcing production to foreigners. I'm sure if people can do whatever out there it can b done locally...

  • Does YOUR band include Licenses and Fees for C.O.T.T, NCBA and importation of Feathers (licenses)into the price of your costumes and pass this on to masqueraders?Isn't this something that should be absorbed by the band?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

We Playing Sailor

Just Friends launched their Carnival 2009 presentation "We Playing Sailor" last Sunday at the St James amphitheater. The persons behind this new band are Chris Humphrey, Earl Crosby and Ann Marie Placide who state that the concept behind the band is making the mas experience simple. The goal is bringing together people who want to enjoy Carnival without spending thousands of dollars on a costume or lining up for hours to cross the stage.

We Playing Sailor has set a maximum masquerader capacity of 500 with costumes priced at $850.00 all inclusive and will not be entering competitions! Masqueraders can also choose to have the band further embellish their simple sailor costumes or do it on their own as the costumes are fully customizable, making each one as unique as the masquerader chooses to be.

Registration for We Playing Sailor is avaialble at the following locations:

1 Fitt Street Woodbrook

Crosby's Music Centre
54 Western Main Road
St James
Chris Humphrey Mas Camp
10 Panka Street
St James

Photo Source:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Candy Shop Teaser....

Wee International's website is still not updated but here is a sneak peek of three sections:

Looking much better than the live launch, cannot wait to see the rest in detail.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wee International Live Band Launch.. the aftermath

Wee International launched their 2009 Carnival presentation "Candy Shop" last night "LIVE ONLINE" with streaming video. The concept is a great one, I think more bands should add a live stream from their band launch for viewers overseas or those who were not able to make it to the launch. Though it is a novel addition to Carnival band launches there were a few glitches along the way.

Firstly the launch started late so that meant the live feed was also delayed, no biggie since I almost forgot about the live launch and was able to catch the start of it.... when I finally got streaming video! The link on Wee's website was not working for me and their sponsor BLINK, who advertised that you could view the live launch on their website, had no link at all! I finally got to see the live streaming of the launch on Trini Fetes.

The quality of the video was pretty poor, very grainy and the colours were muted, not to mention the camera man showed some poor angles. However one could still see enough of the costumes to decide if they were interested .. or not. I saw the sections Paradise Plum, Cocoa bean and Chocolate Passion before my attention was diverted elsewhere, such is the caveat of viewing the launch at home!

When I got back to the computer I saw a black section.. and a white section with HUGE wings; I still do not know the names of that section or anything else after the first three to be honest. From what I have seen the costumes look pretty good. I would have liked to have still photographs of the costumes to look at in more detail or even the video of the launch be available for download to look at it again. I guess we have to wait for the website to see better photos of the costumes.

Kudos to Wee for trying something different with the live streaming of the launch, I hope this is a trend that other bands can adopt for the future.

Wee's mas camp is located on the corner of Kathleen Street and Bournes Road.

Band Size and Numbers

If you always wanted to know how many masqueraders make up a Carnival band and what that means in terms of band size here is the break down:

Large Band - 1001 and over
Medium Band - 301 -1000
Small Band - 51- 300
Mini Band - 11-50
Group -3-11

So, now you know when bands say they have won Medium Band of the Year and Small Band of the Year approximately how many members made up the band! Personally I think the numbers need to be adjusted for Large Band to include Mega Band with 3000 and more masqueraders!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Genesis Band Launch Photos

More photos from Genesis band launch "Glitz and Glamour of Vegas" can be seen at Xclusiv Eventz and Lizzard Blizzard

Photo Source:

Costume price breakdown.....

So, in response to the importation of costumes and the lower cost of production overseas one band leader has stepped forward to give me a break down of prices for costumes produced locally in Trinidad. Please note that is not the same band leader who does my question/answer session nor are any of the photos used for illustration purposes are affiliated with this band leader:

Another topic which I think needs to be addressed is the high cost that the Trinidad supplier, which in most cases increase the cost of the locally produced costume.

You know the Carnival suppliers. I"ll give you a breakdown of the necessary accessories required to produce a costume, to which you can add whatever you like to enhance it. Now remember this is basic and can be considered a decent acceptable costume.

Bath suit- Made in T&T $70.00 pom-pom shorts & tankanis - $10.00 extra

Head bowl - Made in T&T $16.00

Feathers - Ostrich 18"-21" --US$200.00/lb approx125 feathers/lb. Divide 200.00/125=$1.6/ feather, say $2.00x 7 feathers/headpiece=US$14.00

Beads - (top Quality) $7.00/yd ---1 costume uses 2yds tops= US$14.00

Appliques - Bras(2) xUS$7.00 = $US14.00

Belt (1) xUS$7.00 = $US07.00

Other accessories (neck piece/hand& foot piece) say US$20.00

Total expenses- (US prices X by 6)
bath suit 80.00
head bowl 16.00
feathers 84.00
Beads 84.00
appliques 126.00
other accessories 120.00
Sub total $TT510.00
Add another $TT200.00 for argument 200.00
Total $TT 700.00
I know my headpiece has much more than 7 Ostrich plumes and some bands use much more than just two appliques, most of the more contemporary bands are straying from using appliques actually .. but I digress.

However as I said before, the band leader stated that this is for a BASIC costume. What do you think of this cost? Do you think that this matches with the imported costume prices or do you think that the more elaborate the costume the more expensive it becomes to produce locally?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Question and Answer With the Band Leader

Dear Bandleader,

What do you think of the recent information uncovered by Saucy re: Pekar India supplying mas bands?

Is this information you think should be made available to masqueraders?

Do you have knowledge of this gentleman? Have you ever used/sourced materials from Pekar India?

If yes, can you confirm that Pekar India's materials superior or inferior?

Thank Much. AC

I know some of it to be accurate, and yes we all import to a certain extent, components from India and the China and U.S. and U.k.. Some bands do import complete costumes, although no band I know of imports all their costumes from abroad,To do so would be stupid.

Most of us have to go through a middle man usually out of the U.S. So whatever cost that may have been posted would not include air freight to the U.S. and clear their customs first, then an added fee for the agent then to freight forward it to Trinidad .duty,and VAT. not to mention as I have said before cost of head pieces ( which can be more expensive than the whole costume) music, security, bar, year round running cost that has to be added on. I have dabbled in importing costumes from abroad, but don't anymore. Not speaking for anyone other than myself, generally I find imports inferior to the costumes made locally. Usually To be able to order direct from India and China the quantities have to be a lot. And even though I am hear to give the point of view of the bandleaders, I can not always defend the unscrupulous ones.But like I said I don't import complete costumes. So I will leave this topic here.

Dear Bandleander,
I will like to know what is the response to the blog Trinidad Carnival Diary among the mas fraternity?

Are bandleaders,designers and others involved with Carnival paying any attention to the opinions of this one woman called "Saucy?".

Do you think the blog is a positive or negative addition to Carnival?

Thank you

Hard to say really, but I will admit that Saucy on average is pretty fair, and even though she has her favourite designers and bands, she is upfront in saying so. After all it is her blog, and I respect her diligence and investigative skills. I only started reading her blog earlier this year. one of my employees turned me on to it. I would strongly suggest bandleaders read and do their best to listen to feedback from the public. We tend to have a knee jerk reaction to criticism, we feel insulted by the negative things people can say . I am sometimes guilty of this. But I try to keep a cool head and swallow my pride and sort through the criticisms because even though some of it is bias or based in ignorance, a lot of it also makes sense, and we need to listen to masqueraders. So if bandleaders are not seeking out feedback as in for instance blogs like these, then that would be a big mistake., We don't know everything even though we like to think we do. So a dose of eye opening criticism can be just what the doctor ordered.

This is a busy week for me, so that's all for now. Hope to hear more from you all next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Green Honeycreeper Bra

Since the O ring bra was only recommended for A cups this is what the regular bra option for Green Honey Creeper now looks like:

Extensive testing has shown that the "ring bra" option for Green Honeycreeper will not provide you with sufficient support and would require frequent adjustment. Therefore, the bra has been redesigned to ensure that your comfort on the road is not compromised.

Size A to C

Size D and over

An email will be sent out to those registered in this section to verify the type of bra and sizes.

Genesis - Gltiz and Glamour of Vegas

As seen in today's Trinidad Express

Vintage Tuesdays

As a person born in the era before bikini mas had taken it's stronghold on Trinidad Carnival I can still remember, as a child, my mother playing mas in clothed costumed regalia and even the scandal caused when women paraded in short pants! My most distinct memory, however the one defining presentation forever burned into my psyche has to be Peter Minshall's River.

The first glimpse of Minshall's brilliance that year,1983,when my mother took me to the preliminary King and Queen competitions; every one was in awe at the mechanical looking legs of the Man Crab costume, not knowing quite what to make of it as it was unlike any other King on stage that night. On Carnival Monday and Tuesday the River came to town! Peter Minshall designed a 100ft length of white fabric, held aloft by masqueraders, which from afar looked like a moving river of white fabric! Tuesday a riot of colour erupted as the white was doused with paint, I remember looking at this transformation of mas from one symbolism to the next and from my viewing vantage point of a youngster it was the most incredible thing I had ever seen!

Though I have grown to love playing bikini mas and get excited over the beads and feathers, no other presentation has ever had that effect on me as an adult as that was pure theater on the streets as today we simply indulge in a rolling street party. Critics constantly bemoan the loss of our traditional mas and many, many masqueraders today do not even know the history of Trinidad's Carnival or even the traditional characters that are almost extinct from the landscape of mas.

So it was with an extreme pleasure when I discovered a treasure trove of newspaper articles and first person accounts about Trinidad Carnival from the 1900s to the 1970s researched and compiled by the National Cultural Council. On loan to me, I have decided to feature these articles every Tuesday from now until Carnival 2009 with excerpts from the various years.

The feature today is 1900 to 1903

To read the articles, click on the pages above and you will be taken to a new page where you can read the document online or you can just CLICK HERE .For PDF Version DOWNLOAD

Hopefully you will enjoy these articles as much as I am enjoying learning that many aspects of Trinidad Carnival were different in the early 20th century,yet many things still remain the same!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wee International Victims of Carnival Crime!!

Bandits are stealing Carnival designs now... huh?

click for large view

Monday Question Time

And after all the buzz last week with imported costumes, I am sure you have LOTS of questions for our band leader this week!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The First Ever Carnival Band Launch on the WWW

The following appeared in the Trinidad Express yesterday as an advertisement; the clarity of the advertisement was hard to read as the copy was printed badly so I could not scan it and the only reason I even stopped to pay attention to it was because I recognized Wee International's logo:

Get a chance to see CANDY SHOP costumes first and win
*Free Costumes
*Free Phones

long on to, or and get hooked up to be online for out official LIVE media launch @7 PM September 25, 2008

BLINK will be streaming the event and providing content from the launch on their website -

Oh and the other thing is that the website address given for Wee International seems to be "under construction" but you can log on to Wee's NEW website which is!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Flip Side of the coin.. a response to the Costume Conundrum

Not to my surprise I have gotten responses from persons affiliated with certain locally based bands but no one wants to go “on the record” to state exactly what their expenses are and how much of our costume cost is actually a profit.

Yet I have been told,“FYI”, that we masqueraders are misguided by the prices that Pekar India have quoted. I was also told that Pekar India is not a reliable source for imported costumes, several bands this year we left waiting for costumes that were never delivered or were delivered AFTER Carnival! Maybe that is why some of you masqueraders never received your costumes until Carnival Monday, if at all! I was also informed that it is doubtful that Pekar India was responsible for TRIBE’s Black Magic costume; while this may be true (or not) I have not received any official statement from any of the bands that the costumes Pekar India is advertising as his “work” is a misrepresentation. If any band wants to vouch for this they are free to email me at trinicarnivaldiary@ to set the record straight.

In addition no one seems to realize that I did not ask a rhetorical question:
Ok, so I know the COST of my costume is not all that I pay for when I choose to pay that price; we have the all inclusive feature to consider as well as security, music, cost overheads and all that but really, how much of that $500.00 that we are paying is purely profit if the COSTUME costs on average $45.00US?

I am not completely clueless as to the other expenses that go into running a band. In fact I have always stated that when masqueraders start to complain about high prices of costumes and bandleaders getting rich that they have a choice to either not pay the price or look for another band. People should also temper their criticisms of the fruits of a successful band leader who has turned Carnival into a business as the success did not come over night and involves continuous hard work over the years to achieve and maintain that success. For me personally I always set a budget for my costume, what I am willing to pay based on what the experience means to me, and when the day comes that I can no longer afford it I will either stop playing mas with my band of choice and look for another band that fits the criteria I am looking for (as well as my pocket) or stop playing mas altogether. However that does not mean that I will not speak out against the prices of costumes rising each year; ideally I would like to pay LESS than I budgeted for, thanks!

My issue with the cost of the imported costumes is that the cheaper cost (cheaper than having them made in Trinidad) is not passed on to the masquerader and the prices actually increase, why? If a band is importing costumes at a price of $45.00US shouldn’t the masquerader benefit from this “cheap” price with a costume that costs less than the average costume made in Trinidad? Every year band leaders sing the same some, every thing is going up in price! Cost of living has gone up, materials have gone up, labour has gone up .. these are the people making costumes in Trinidad.. and as someone living in Trinidad I can appreciate that EVERYTHING has skyrocketed in price; however these imported costumes are a fraction of the price, even when you add VAT (15%), Custom Duties ( maximum 40%), Insurance (2%) and Shipping the mark up still brings the cost of the costume for under $600.00TT (minus the headpiece). And speaking of the headpiece, I would love to see that for Carnival 2009 EACH and EVERY masquerader gets the headpiece as advertised at the band launch and website instead of a scaled down version with smaller plumes and less feathers!

Now unto the real topic of today which is the Band’s rebuttal:
I have been told that “any decent quality full costume” cannot be purchased for less than $120.00US before shipping, customs duty and VAT. This is at 2009 prices. One band has told me that Band expenses run around $1500.00TT per masquerader for an all-inclusive large band; this price includes food and drinks ,music, VAT, year round administration, staff, rents, storage, security (not just on the road),and that the cost can actually be even more if the band wants to be super efficient as many masqueraders expect.

Now you do the math on how much profit is made per masquerader based on a costume costing $3000.00TT. Add an extra $50.00US to the imported costume cost of $120.00US for the headpiece. When you get that figure multiply that by an average section size of 250 masqueraders. Finally multiply by the number of sections, around 12 on average, and work out the profit based on this ONE band’s figures. I am not even going to touch the fact that the MALE costumes cost considerably less than females to produce. Although the profit amounts to over $1 million dollars based on THESE calculations, not all the sections in the band are owned by the band leaders as the trend is to allow private sections owners.

A private section, which is a section leader that owns a special section in the band, has to pay what is known as a “band fee” which covers most of the all inclusive package for their masqueraders by the affiliated band (food, drinks, security, music etc). However private sections are responsible for producing and distributing their costume as well as some choose to have their own mas camp and website independent of the band they are affiliated with, which is an additional expense. The band fee ranges from $1000.00 per masquerader for a medium sized band to $1750.00-$2200.00 for the more popular, large scale, ultimate exclusive bands. The band fee also takes into consideration some profit element for the band; one band is known for instance to allow private sections to have female costumes only, the male sections being owned by the band.

Finally I am going to give you a breakdown of MOST of the expenses that factor into the cost of your costume:

cost of materials (bra, appliqué, foam, shorts, etc.)
Shipping costs,
Value Added TAX
Custom Duties
Design fees
Headpiece molds
Wire bending
Bags/Boxes for costume distribution
Goody bag
Items in Goody Bag (not all items are sponsored)
Venue, storage, security and Staff for registration AND distribution

Security Staff and managers
Road managers
Traffic officers
Rental of vehicles (trucks, maxi taxis for shuttle bus, vans)
Rental of equipment
Musical equipment (speakers, DJ equipment etc)
Hiring of D.J.s or Live Bands
BAR & bar staff
Food (inclusive of snacks, lunch and breakfast)
Servers (and all the salaries tied to catering)
T shirts for road,bar and security staff
Welder &Engineer (some mobile bars are custom fabricated)
Portable Toilets
Rental of location for lunch stop
Security for location for lunch stop
Cleaning crew for location for lunch stop
Medical team
Printing of signs and banners

Staff salaries
Equipment (computers etc.)
Utilities (electricity, telephone, internet, water)
Marketing costs incurred (advertisements, bill boards)
Website hosting & updating
Printing and publishing

Licenses and Fees
C.O.T.T (Copyright Organization)
NCBA (National Carnival Bands Association)
Importation of Feathers (licenses)

Sure many people think they can start a band and become a millionaire overnight but to do it RIGHT it takes a lot of planning and proper execution; too many start up bands are "bussing price" and offering shoddy services and amenities! So, now that we all have this information on exactly what the cost of your costume entails, do you still think the bands are gouging you, the masquerader with prices?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sold Out Section Update

TWO more sections sold out in Harts!

Pulse 8 Mas Camp Visit

I missed out on Pulse 8's band launch since I was not in the country that weekend, so I eventually made it to the mas camp to take a close up look of the costumes, mainly because several bloggers are interested in Pulse 8 and wanted my opinion on the costumes in person.

On the website I will admit none of the costumes "blew me away"; for the most part they are good enough costumes, I don't even think there is one I do not like, it is just that to ME nothing stood out to "wow" me. In person I got to appreciate little details that are not clearly visible on the website such as the beading used and the different types of feathers on these costumes.

After visiting the mas camp I had two minds about actually writing a review or posting photographs because clearly Pulse 8 does not appreciate anyone taking photos of their costumes in person. We were repeatedly drilled by someone who appeared to be in authority at the mas camp as to WHY we were taking photographs. When I indicated that it was to get a better, close up photograph of the costumes I was directed to look at the costumes on the website and was even handed a costume booklet!

If a band does not want publicity why give it to them was my thinking? What harm is there in taking photographs? I have not had a problem with any mas camp that I have gone to thus far and to be honest the photographs on their website are hard to navigate and do not give you a detailed, close up view of the costumes. To show how ignorant this particular person was when coming to what masqueraders desire when choosing a costume, a question was asked about viewing the back of the costume and we were told by the same person that "nobody wants to see the back of the costume as the front and the back are the same thing". I don't know about that gentleman, who I guess is clueless, but as a masquerader I do want to see the back! I can appreciate that the costumes are displayed in a particular way and because of that the back is not visible,but do not insult my intelligence by saying the back and front are the same; so I guess the BACK of the bra is the same as the front with cups right?

In addition no one could give me a clear answer as to if the INDIVIDUAL costume (looks like a frontline to me) is just ONE costume as the word INDIVIDUAL suggests or if there will be more than one made; I was told that usually they do not have many of THAT costume made, maybe one or two, five for the most... ok then!

Okay, enough of my mini rant on mas camps who get in a tizzy when people take photos, it is a pet peeve of mine. On to the costumes! After seeing them in person my choices would be Flaming Sambuca, Caliente and Explosive Ember. I so wanted there to be an individual option for Flaming Sambuca as that costume is pretty; I love the jeweled belt. The gems are held together by fishing nylon so it creates a skirted effect instead of falling like individual strips of beads, I would personally snip the nylon so the beads would fall looser. I am not feeling the plastic molded base of the headpiece but that is a minor critiqueExplosive Ember is a pretty shade of purple, I like it because the frontline creates impact with the big back pack. The other costume I like would be Caliente, not really a fan of the two different workings on the bra cups however it looks very outstanding and I can see the sequins glittering in the sun.

Hot Ice is also another one that looks good but the headpiece kills it for me , same thing with Hot Tamale which has a really nice fabric used for the bra and it is just wooden beads and cord; interesting details but the headpiece is the same exact thing as another costume in another band, just a different colour. I like the beads used on Tombouctou as well as the colour, do not like the fabric draping however. I like the beads on Pepperpot as well,something about the colour combination does not make this one stand out. Bush Fire I also like but too much fluffy stuff on the costume! Spicy Wasbai has great accessories and Sexy Samba is my least favourite of them all.

I was able to get close up photographs of SOME of the sections which you can view HERE; enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Costume Conundrum Part 3!

Got the following email with photos of costumes that Pakar India have stated they have produced for Trinidad Carnival:

I self designs around 80/90 costumes per year. Of course all not selected .i just gets approval of 10/15 of my designs. So most of my sold costumes are designed by particular band.

Hence I am a manufacturer I treat all designs costumes equally. In my knowledge the raw materials used in any particular costumes reflect exclusive or cheap.
Beside clients customize raw materials I used same kind of back fabric/raw-bra cup/stitching /gluing etc for all costumes.

At last I able & will glad to produce your stuffs.

. Note I had started my work with dead mass band. Beside costumes I worked for accessories for many bands. All appliqué/braid/bead fringes etc.

Ok hereby I attaching few complete costumes I worked in Trinidad.

I also got another email from someone affiliated with one of the large mas bands in Trinidad who informed me that we need to add "customs and V.A.T. (value added Tax of 15%) which marks up the costume by 100%. I would honestly love for someone who imports costumes to give me a costing breakdown of how they come up with the final figure because we masqueraders are supposedly "misguided" thinking we can price costumes based on the cost of importing the costumes from Asia.

There were also some other interesting emails regarding this issue:

Hi there

I’m a long time reader and first time responder to your blog. I’m always curious to see what topic you are going to touch on next and I am a big fan of your page! I’m writing you in regards to your blog posted about costumes being imported. I work and live in North America and I’m also an accessories designers and rep for a huge company that specializes in the trade of what we call “Import/ Export” business. A line of working that is always booming and creates customers and clients all around the world. I would just like to shine a light on how things work to give you an inside idea.

OF COURSE!!!.....everything and I do mean just about everything now these days are being replicated in 3erd world countries such as China , Indian, and even Mexico . The company I work for specializes in leather band bags, wallets, scarves and may more accessories. We by the way, export our finished merchandise all over the world. I have met with buyers from companies that would shock the average consumer who is thinking that there favorite shopping department store is creating “original” work. Well, I must say…NOTHING IS AUTHENTIC THESE DAYS! I have been in stores sample shopping, seen an item with the departments stores logo on it, then gone into its computation store, and then seen the same item with maybe a color change or an added zipper or button somewhere ,but with another logo..

The reason for this is because it keeps the import cost and the landed taxes low in price, so that the buyers can purchase at a very low rate, and sell at a high rate. The landed taxes are tax rates that importers have to pay when moving items in bulk overseas. Production in 3erd world countries is very cheap. In this case, the buyer would be the band leaders. Why pay workers in Trinidad to make costumes, when you can get the same work done for a fraction of the price?

One thing I must say is that I love to play my mas! Every year the whole office and department will know that production will shut down for the 2 weeks in February, while I’m on the streets of Port of Spain ! Once costume time comes around, not only in Trinidad, but Toronto , Miami , and other places around the world, its sad to say that one in this business can even sometimes tell were the costume is made.

For example, I have played with one of the larger bands in Trinidad for carnival a few times back. I do not wish to reveal there name, incase some readers might get the wrong impression of alienation towards them. Nonetheless, I had a wonderful experience with that band. Great service. But, when I collected my costumes, I almost was in tears laughing. The simple bead work, color schemes and pattern layout look so familiar to me, that I called out the manufactures name. Me, being the curious kitten that I am, had to ask someone in charge just to see if my gut feeling was correct. However, once I did inquire about the costume, the people working within the mas camp did not want to answer my question directly. No big deal!

The point is that this is a business. Keep the imported cost down, keep the taxes down, and sell to the consumer to make profit. I can tell you a known fact that majority of costumes made out of Trinidad cost band leaders no more than 30-50$ USD per costume when bought in bulk. Once there is a supply and demand for something, you have a business just waiting to collect profit if handle professionally. Bottom line is, if you can replicate designer bags in good quality, and enjoy its profits, then…why not mas costumes?! It’s Genius!

-cosmic love

Hi Saucy,
As a follow up to my last email to you re: "BRAS", I want to compliment you on the research you did on "imported carnival costumes". I too did some checking on Pekar of India and found his costume samples to be soiled, and not consistent with my standard of the production of costumes. Yes, as a matter of interest, I did request and received samples from Pekar (Sanjiv) (5) but returned them when I found that they were below par to the costumes I produce, some of the glued parts were even falling apart.

Now, let it be known, that I am very adverse to the importation of costumes, mainly because -
1. The skill of costume making is being gradually eroded.
2. Masqueraders are being ripped off in a big way as you realized. ( you did the math)
3. The enjoyment of participating in carnival and playing mas is gradually being taken away
from the low income person (see #4)
4. The perception of the high costs of a costume borders on discrimination (rich vs poor)
5. As mentioned in my last email, bras do no fit properly as all sizes are not available
6. Costumes are turning up all over, same design different colour (I go to many carnival )

It comes down to one thing, every Tom Dick and Harry want to bring a band because they think there is easy money to be made being a band leader, and there is no longer any work to do. Pay somebody to design, send your design abroad , order costumes, borrow money, get a mas camp for registering and delivering purposes, do some advertising and after carnival, visit the bank with a deposit slip. Have some managerial skills and it's that easy.

There are numerous other reasons why I wouldn't support the importation of costumes, but time and space forbids it. I can assure you though,that I am comfortable with the quality I produce.

The Costume Conundrum Part 2

The first time I learned about Trinidad Carnival bands having costumes imported, buying ready made costumes from China, India and even online websites like Neckelmann's I have to admit that I was quite surprised. I grew up in the generation that knows of costumes being made in mas camps by friends, family and hired staff, so to learn that costumes were not only being made outside of Trinidad but being picked off a website was news to me.

Of course with progress comes change and as Carnival is a huge business now I was quite aware that there are now production companies in Trinidad that specifically catered to making costumes; Harry's Designs being one I can call off the top off my head as having been in the business for a number of years. Now we have others such as Elwin Johnson as well as Richard and Anthony productions who also design and produce costumes locally. The manufacturing of costumes has gone from a friend hot gluing on one appliqué after the next in a mas camp to it being done assembly line style by the professionals.

What I was not aware of, however, is the fact that costume designers have now gone one step further and they are having their costumes either designed overseas by these production companies or they are submitting designs (ideas) of their own, a sample is made and sent from China or India, sent to Trinidad and once approved is produced overseas. There is also a well known local contact, a liaison, who not only "designs" costumes but is the middleman for the Chinese producers. This contact has samples already on display from which "designers" can go in, take a look, make adjustments and place an order; there is nothing like designing for theme, the costumes are chosen and a name is slapped on to it!

The only parts of the costumes that are made locally, and this is for SOME bands, are the headpieces and backpacks. But you can also buy headpieces and backpacks from the right person overseas, such as Juan Pablo and Neckelmanns.

To get an understanding of how this whole process works I have been communicating with one of the costume producers Pekar India who has provided me with the following information in response to my email which is highlighted in BOLD:

Good Day,
I am writing to you from Trinidad and Tobago. I am interested in having some costumes made for Trinidad Carnival and I was told you do this type of work. Do you have costumes already made that I can choose from or can I submit my designs and you produce them? Also what do you produce in terms of the cosutme (bra,belt,arm and wrist pieces, necklace) and what is the price for each costume? What is the minimum order can I place and what is the deadline to do so. Finally, can you tell me which bands you have worked with in Trinidad and I would be grateful for any photos of the costumes you have done so I can see the work you produce.

Sorry for bit late response because I was outstation for last few days. Well, we factory specialized in the manufacturing /exporter of carnival costumes & accessories and have excellent track record around world. We capable to provide you any customize design with best quality & cost. OUR PRODUCTS: #Complete CARNIVAL COSTUME (bra+belts+neck+arm/leg band) (A.V Cost- 35 –45 vary with designs) # All kinds of Beaded fringe ,appliqués & flowers etc. # All kind of artificial necklace set. #Braid trimming & other decorative accessories QUALITY We have profuse designs with series of quality grade & expressly our price is best because of manufactory. You can ask for a free sample to check quality anytime. AVERAGE COST/DISCOUNT/EASY PAYMENT TERMS Our average costume cost around 35-45USD vary with designs. Also we provide 5 FREE COSTUMES ON MINIMUM 100 SET ORDER QUANTITY. Along with we have easy payment terms & I can detail latter on. DELIVERY TIME:
Our skilled manpower able to deliver average 2000 COMPLETE COSTUMES per month. NOTE- WE PROVIDES COSTUME DESIGNS & SAMPLES OF YOUR CHOICE ALL AT FREE OF COST. for timebeing i already sold all my 2009 designs. if possible give me a idea about your required costume & i can produce that for you or you can show me your style i can copy that.
i already worked for many bands there . from which band you belongs. i hope your bandleader must know me. if intersted to see i can show you few of my last designs those already sold to diffrent bands woldwide. Looking forward your kind advice, With best regards, Sanjiv, India Ph- +91 112 619 4332, +91 987 154 3933
Thank you very much for your response. We are a new band, but I know of the bands Island People,Spice, Tribe, Pulse 8 and Dream Team. I would love to see the last designs that you have already sold.

Well, I think all 3 new bands already lunched also am working one of them.

Among old bands I worked with genisis.dream team, trini revelers, dkrew, c.nationza, pulse 8,tribe etc. From tornto – I works for almost all bands. Beside that I have client on uk & brazil.

I can understand your concern. Don’t worry I one most reliable & largest manufacturer of spl carnival costumes from my country. You can check my quality anytime you wish. Also you can check any size of raw bras before. (I think this most important issue for band/section leaders to produce costumes from overseas market)


These are the photos that were sent as examples of work done by Pekar India for Caribana:

I wrote about this subject in 2006 when I realized that one of Harts costumes came from Neckelmann's, that article is called The Costume Conundrum and you can refresh your memory of my thoughts then. The fact remains that these Asian factories do produce some well made costumes and at a VERY cheap price; I can see that this is what is giving a huge boost to more and more bands having their costumes made overseas. In addition bands will argue that there are now too few local producers to meet the demand of the growing number of bikini and bead bands.

But, is this a chicken and egg syndrome? Are there too few local producers because everyone is now having costumes made overseas or have people turned to the Asian factories since the number of people who can do the job locally are too few? Then there is the issue of standards, with the capabilities of these Asian factories to whip out 2000 costumes a month and with intricate beading and workmanship is there anyone locally who can match that caliber of costumes? I mean take a look at any of Island People's costumes (since it is no secret their costumes are made in China) Rays of Light for example and the detail on the bra; the beads and stones are embroidered (not hot glued) unto a flesh coloured bra. I have seen costumes from some other bands that are made here and you can actually see the hot glue remnants where the braid was stuck unto the bra!

The thing is for ME, I would love to be able to say I am supporting our local producers, I think they need to step up the game from mediocrity and start producing work that can rival the Asian counterparts. And since we STILL need local wire benders for headpieces and backpacks it is not as if we can eliminate out local costume producers anyway. I want to be proud of what is made here and these imports are not doing it for me. I can understand why bands import costumes but I am not a supporter of it, simply because I KNOW that we can produce spectacular costumes in Trinidad; I believe that!

Take for instance the work produced by Harts who by the way chucked Neckelmann's costumes after that piece of drama, they do work internationally, producing costumes for Las Vegas and other Carnivals. Legacy also makes costumes for an international market and there are other bands that still make costumes here for export to other islands. I am not even going to mention Mc Farlane who does his work locally as the topic is about bikini mas, but suffice to say if Peter Minshall can produce the opening of the Olympics we surely have talent in Trinidad and Tobago with enormous potential. So, why are we selling ourself short and buying from Asia? I want to believe that the COST is a huge factor in this importation of costumes, one supplier has quoted me an average figure of $35 - $45.00US for a costume set which includes bra, belt, neck, leg and arm band! Compare THAT to the average cost of a cosutme this year at $500.00US!

Ok, so I know the COST of my costume is not all that I pay for when I choose to pay that price; we have the all inclusive feature to consider as well as security, music, cost overheads and all that but really, how much of that $500.00 that we are paying is purely profit if the COSTUME costs on average $45.00US ? Not to mention that most bands get some form of sponsorship which can be considered a lagniappe!

Not to mention that this importation of costumes have messed up the sizing, so now instead of being able to order according to a specific bra size like 44DD masqueraders have to choose between XS to XXL. Bands are claiming that they have to meet deadlines, I guess for of having overseas production and cannot take special requests for costumes after a certain date NOR can you even ask to drop off a bra of your own to get it decorated! No wonder band launches are starting earlier and earlier' everyone has to meet some overseas production deadline!

So now the questions have to be asked,; do you as a masquerader care if your cosutme is made in Trinidad, seeing as even the costumes that are made locally still have to use imported materials as Trinidad does not manufacture fabric, beads, sequin or feathers? Do you prefer a WELL MADE costume that is heavily beaded and embellished with the best that an skilled Indian labourer can produce? When you fork over your money for a costume are you saying YES buy local or give me more than three strands of beads stuck to a bra please thank you very much! And knowing the COST of the costumes that are being imported do you think that the "savings" should be passed on to the masquerader as costume prices are way too high, bands can afford to sell for less or are you satisfied that with all things considered you are getting value for money with a WELL MADE imported costume?

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