As stylist Stephanie Ramlogan expanded her portfolio within fashion, she started writing pieces centred around “observing the challenges, risks and triumphs of Caribbean and Latin American designers, creatives and followers”. Seems harmless enough, but Stephanie has become a bit of a rabble-rouser with her frank assessments and opinionated articles.
Her blog –“No More Fashion Victims”, gets people fired up. Just the name of her website is enough to make you self-conscious and question your sartorial savvy. While some comment that she “says exactly what they are thinking”, this is not the unanimous opinion, as Stephanie herself says: “people either hate me or love me”.
In a society where many are afraid to say what they really think, unless anonymous, Stephanie seems un-phased and unrepentant about sharing her opinion on various facets of fashion in Trinidad and Tobago.
But what makes her think she can speak with authority on these matters? What is she really trying to achieve with her blunt commentary? Who does she think she is?
We find out…
Who do you think you are? Or in other words, what do you feel gives you the authority to speak to the fashion industry in the way that you do?
Sometimes I feel that I’m coming across like a parent because people refer to me as things like: “fashion guru”. I don’t claim to be that. In the description of my blog I made sure to say I am an observer because my role in fashion is first and foremost that, because I am a customer. I have gone to school in fashion and I am also somebody who wants to make a living in fashion, so I get very frustrated when I see certain things. If you study to be a doctor you pick up your briefcase, you go to work and everything is in place. There is a system. With fashion here there is no system like that. It’s frustrating to me because I want it to be like that with fashion. You get your degree, you go to work in the fashion industry and you make money. But that’s not what fashion is here. If you have a clothing line you are the designer, the marketing manager, visual merchandiser, everything in one.
So I’m an observer and if it comes across preachy it comes from a place of: so many of us went to school together, we all have the same footing more or less…why is it that I can see what needs to be done and you are so comfortable half-assing it? Anything that comes across preachy is from that point of view. It’s not “I’m better than you and I know more than you”. It is we know the same things, but why aren’t you applying it? Don’t you want to make money? Don’t you want this to be successful? Are you so rich that this can be your hobby and you can just play and have a good time while other people have to actually work? It’s not that I think I know more at all. I know so many of the designers because we were classmates. Why am I wanting to apply the things we learnt more? Why am I wanting to read more? Why do I want my business to reach somewhere? Why are you so happy being a snow cone vendor?
Are you deliberately trying to upset people with your commentary?
No, definitely not. First of all I didn’t even know people would read this thing. Initially when I started doing the blog people said they appreciated my honesty. But that’s just my personality. Another comment is my blog sounds so much like my speaking voice. That is intentional. I want it to sound like I’m talking to you. In my natural speaking voice some things might sound offensive. I’m a straight person, I don’t beat around the bush…I don’t see the point. I definitely am not trying to upset people and I try not to be impolite. I don’t feel like I ever cross the line and go into rude or disrespectful territory. I am conscious of that because I wouldn’t want somebody to do that to me.
I’m critical because I expect better, especially from people who I may come across as being harsh towards. I expect better because I think they have more potential. The people who throw the biggest hissy fits are the people who are least prepared to run a business because they are not professional, they are not mature and… Listen, if you cannot take my critique … I hold back a lot. There is a lot more I can say about a lot of people that I do not. And if I had to, I would have to get deported. I don’t think what I say is that mean. When people get hysterical about things I say I am in utter disbelief.
For a lot of these designers I am the perfect model of who they want to buy their clothes. I am that consumer. So if you are not pleasing me, you should see this as an opportunity. It’s almost like a very focused group. Look at me like your focus group. If I have something bad to say you should think to yourself “let me fix that”. I want to buy everything. You want to make me happy. If you are not making me happy and I am spoon feeding you and outlining what the problem is, just go and fix the problem!…Sometimes I feel like I have to put a buffer blog post in between because it can come across as all angry. Laughs.
So what you are trying to achieve is …
I want them to fix it! That’s all it is! I’m telling you exactly what to fix. Trinidad is full of mamaguy; “It’s so nice!!! Oh, it’s so great!” At school we had to critique each other’s collections and people would say things like: “I like this one because it’s my favourite colour”. That’s a critique??!! A critique is pulling out the strengths, the weaknesses, outlining what will make it better, what consumers want to see.
“I like this one because it’s my favourite colour”. That’s a critique??!! A critique is pulling out the strengths, the weaknesses, outlining what will make it better, what consumers want to see.
Are you concerned at all about posting comments that may not come across as “positive”, especially in a society like this, and also in light of the fact that you are also building a brand?
Yes. I am. I’ve been with a group of people liming and a designer who probably got offended came up and hugged and kissed everybody except me. I don’t like that. It’s not nice. Also with my store I have to be very sensitive. I am serious about fashion and I want to make a living doing fashion. I can only be successful when the industry is uplifted. My whole purpose is to make sure everything is better.
What are some of the major things you want to see change in the industry?
The main thing is there needs to be a lot of editing down of the players. I also want to see a better network generally. I want to see people diverting into different areas in fashion. Design is not the only option. I want to see merchandisers, I want to see PR people, I want to see producers, manufacturers, branding managers. I probably want to see less designers and fewer businesses and these fewer businesses being strengthened.
The next thing would be I want to see a better system and seasons established. Seasons are necessary for buyers. Each designer has their own seasons. That needs to change, there should be set times during the year that designers show their clothes to buyers.
I want to see designers applying more design techniques and I want to see better clothing. There’s a lot of laziness. Everybody is making an ankara circle skirt because it is easy and the print is doing the work for you. There is no detailing, not even a little stud somewhere. I want to see innovative ways of putting on the clothes. I want to see designers knowing who their audience is and designing for their niche market. I want to see that kind of thought being put into the work.
I can only be successful when the industry is uplifted. My whole purpose is to make sure everything is better.
Can we expect more irritatingly incisive posts from you in the future?
Well I am going to be splitting the website so that No More Fashion Victims (NMFV) will be an online store and my other work will be featured on the Stephanie Ramlogan website. I will continue with the blogs but NMFV will have more store focused posts and the other website will have its own blog.
Any last words…
I don’t have any last words, I think I said a lot. Ok, I have some ; I’m not a bitch ok, I’m actually very nice.Laughs