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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Spice Speaks on the Bra Issue

The following is a letter to blogger "voluptuous masquerader" that was also copied to Trinidad Carnival Diary:

Dear VM,

Thank you for your inquiry. I am responding to you on behalf of Spice.

Firstly there is no controversy as we have never denied anyone a large or small bra size.

The reality is that we recently had ONE masquerader request a size in a particular FRONTLINE of a very in-demand section called Paprika. This masquerader was advised that the very large sizes were sold out in this FRONTLINE and when offered the size in the regular section of Paprika or in another section of the band they refused. This individual seemed bent on making an issue of this and sadly seemed prepared to use any means to do so including distorting the truth, to the extent that they CREATED a story that they went to the mas camp with their friends and everyone else was allowed to sign up and she was refused. I can tell you with absolute certainty that this never happened and what actually happened was that this individual actually called in by phone. It is this ill intent on that individual’s part that has fuelled some debate.

Now, producing a band is a very complex undertaking especially in the first year. The average person perceives that costume production begins in January when in fact it begins as far back as September and October of the preceding year. Herein lies the challenge, particularly for new bands, as most of the major suppliers give PREFERENCE to their established clients, which in most cases include Tribe, Island People, Trini Revellers etc.

What this means is that many of these suppliers simply do not have the capacity to take on work and additional production in the October to December period. As a result, production schedules are brought forward even earlier to August - September. As a new band this was the dilemma SPICE faced as the bra, shorts and other suppliers gave 31st July deadlines for orders. I can tell you for a fact that the supplier of the shorts turned down the band’s business initially due to commitments to IP and Tribe and only reconsidered after we agreed to a very early production date of September and leveraged our relationship with them through other members of the band who give that supplier business through their other companies.

The downside of this entire arrangement was that SPICE had to ESTIMATE the sizes to order. In so doing we ordered more of the standard sizes and fewer of the extra small and extra large sizes in keeping with the buying trends of masqueraders as we know them to be.

I would like to add that SPICE has several well seasoned and highly experienced individuals when it comes to mas. Many of these persons have done successful sections for years in various bands including Poison and Tribe. In fact the collective experience in mas exceeds 50 years. It was this experience that was drawn upon when calculating the ratio of various sizes to order in each section FRONTLINE and REGULAR.

With regard to the FRONTLINES, most have a maximum of 15-20 costumes which is inline with the industry standard. We allocated in every frontline approximately 3 extra large sizes and 3 extra small sizes. Now note the following:

In the case of frontlines with a maximum of 15 costumes the allocation of 3 extra large sizes represent 20% of the total stock allocation
In the case of frontlines with a maximum of 20 costumes the allocation of 3 extra large sizes represent 15% of the total stock allocation
In the case of frontlines with a maximum of 15 costumes the allocation of 3 extra small sizes represent 20% of the total stock allocation
In the case of frontlines with a maximum of 20 costumes the allocation of 3 extra small sizes represent 15% of the total stock allocation
Collectively that means that 30-40% of our frontline stock was allocated to SPECIAL small and big sizes

The reality is that this is not an unreasonable allocation and when translated into actual numbers it represents 3 extra large costumes allocated for each of the 8 frontline sections as Mediterranean Borage and Garden of Sage do not have frontlines. This therefore represents a total of 24 extra large size costumes available across the entire band. So what you have collectively for your frontlines across the entire band is a ratio of:

24 extra large costumes
24 extra small costumes
Approximately 72 costumes to now split between small, medium and large – which if evenly split gives 24 each.
A collective total of 120 frontline costumes.

Finally, our core committee does include some full figured persons and out of the 24 extra large costumes available overall, at least 12 were taken IMMEDIATELY by these persons when registration opened on the 25th July and the rest were taken up by registrations at the mas camp within the first few days. So sadly we did not have these sizes to offer online by the time the “online store” opened a week or two ago, but we did honor any costumes booked in large sizes via the online application process which preceded the online store.

It is worth noting that nearly all of the band’s frontline sections are now fully sold out and I expect that this will be posted in the next few days.

I sincerely hope that this email will answer your questions and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, feedback and suggestions on this matter.

I have also chosen to copy Saucy of “trinicarnivaldiary” whose blog carried an article related to this matter.

Hopefully this email will help to clarify things for everyone.

Should you have any further questions or comments please feel free to email them to

Best Regards,


Team Spice

Spice Carnival Band Limited

I would like to state that the young lady in question did not go to the mas camp to register for her costume as she does not live in Trinidad. I am unsure as to how this information has translated into now accusing the young lady in question of "making up stories" as when I wrote on the bra issue nothing was said about going to the mas camp.

And while I can understand ratios and deadlines there are suppliers in Trinidad who will do a special sized bra, as pointed out to Anya by Anthony (of Richard and Anthony productions designers of eight sections of Spice). The fact remains that this explanation, to me, is just a justification of their actions. And, there is nothing mentioned about allowing the masquerader to bring their own bra. If other bands can do it, and Spice IS speaking about what other bands are doing in THIS letter, why can't THEY allow masqueraders to bring their own bra as well?

This practice of allocating sizes is just another form of marginalizing certain size labels; as I said before why not just allow a masquerader to register with their individual size details and then sumbit their sizes to a producer LIKE TRIBE DOES? Surely the commitee member from "TRIBE" could have informed Spice of how this is done!Hopefully they will learn from this for Carnival 2010 and realise that all their "averages" are for nought as clearly there are more masqueraders wanting larger bra sizes than they anticipated!

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