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:
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!
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.