The Chambray Shirt – An Impetus For Change

Style Inspo: Football legend, David Beckham dresses up his chambray shirt with matching sports coat and trousers for H & M Modern Essentials  campaign photo shoot.                (Photo Credit: E-Online )

Historians have traced chambray’s origins to the mid 1500’s. The plain weave cotton chambray is often mistaken for denim. Chambray is not denim because it is woven differently. Unlike denim it is softer, lighter and thinner in its fabric construction. These characteristics make chambray an excellent addition to any wardrobe despite being more suited for persons living in climates prone to arid conditions and humidity. The advantage of chambray’s finely woven texture is its high thread count which accounts for a more breathable and longer lasting fabric. This is guaranteed to keep its wearer stylish and literally cool. It is yet another reason why it is considered a staple especially in designing shirt collections for men. However, there is more to this fabric than its physical aesthetic. Astoundingly, chambray transcends all generations with a relatable message that is familiar to all travelers who experience this journey called life.  Chambray’s story is steeped in a tale about a revolutionary past, a thought provoking present and a vision of hope for the future.

Style Guide: Chambray Shirt + Chino Shorts in Light Gray + Men's Braided Laced Up Loafers in Gray + Watch + Wallet + Aviators in silver accents and tones.                                          Shop RGG Denim Co. Island Chambray Shirt (click to shop your 'must have' chambray shirt)

Intriguingly, the name Chambray is derived from the English spelling of the French word “Cambrai”. Cambrai was a French town associated with a lightweight and plain weave fabric similar to chambray. The chambray shirt became popular in the early twentieth century among the American labourers who donned chambray shirts and denim trousers to work. The indigo dyed fabric became a favourite for plant operators, drillers, miners and other skilled workers of the blue collar class because it did a better job at masking the grime and dirt that soiled their clothing due to their working environment and conditions. It is this moment in history that also birthed the name “blue collar” earmarking the skilled labourers by the blue collar chambray shirts which they wore in the manual and industrial fields of work in contrast to the “white collars” of office and managerial workers.  The chambray shirt became the premier choice for the U.S. Navy’s uniform in 1901 until World War II because of its durability, practicality and rugged aesthetic. Nevertheless, America was not alone in adopting the chambray shirt and its blue collar identity. Australia also became a living testament of this distinction between worker stereotypes.

Style Inspo: Style icon, David Beckham in long sleeve chambray shirt, black chinos and chelsea boots. (Photo Credit : Pinterest)

Globally, the classification of workers based on the new collar classification sparked an unwavering interest from groups who could no longer turn a blind eye to the exponential growth of unjustified working terms and conditions for the blue collar workers. Europe, Britain, Australia and America saw the establishment and the rise of labour movements and trade unions that challenged employers, advocated and fought for the blue collar workers who toiled in hazardous conditions. Trinidad was not exempted from this movement as trade unions mediated the biggest women led industrial strike in its history. In 1939, The Reknown Factory owned by Phillipa Mahanna Haddaway and her husband ceased operations due to an industrial strike led by women only garment workers. The trade union that represented them demanded a 12.5% increase for the underpriced and overworked women garment workers. Workers from shirt factories such as Sabga’s Shirt Factory, Briks and Chizer and Straumwaser also joined the strike in solidarity with the women.

Style Guide: Chambray Shirt + Checked Wool-Silk Jacket + Wool Trousers in Gray + Brown Oxfords + Leather Backpack + Belt + Watch Shop RGG Denim Co. Island Chambray Shirt (click to shop and style your chambray shirt)

Traditionally, chambray fabric was used to create shirts. It was only after World War II that it served as a muse for fashion. When the war ended the chambray shirt became an inspiration for Hollywood actors and actresses. Soon the trend caught on and the chambray fabric became a flexible way to get creative in styling the denim look without the additional weight and features of the denim fabric. Today, chambray shirts are still worn by both men and women but it is no longer designated for the workplace nor a certain classification of workers. The chambray shirt continues to dominate the fashion scene. It is stylists’ leading choice in building a foundation wardrobe for men. Stylists fancy the chambray shirt because it is an essential and versatile men’s shirt. It transitions exceptionally well from daytime to nighttime.

Style Inspo: International Celebrity, David Beckham in semi buttoned down, monogrammed chambray shirt, black chinos and signature white t-shirt at a former FIFA World Cup event. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

The sartorial features of the chambray shirt reveal that it’s an ideal choice for travel. The chambray shirt is not a seasonal item which means it can be worn all year round. Men who are travelling for business or leisure and love to pack light can enjoy more than one look from the same shirt regardless of the destination’s climate. They can layer it with coats, jackets and sweaters or  dress it up for an evening out. Likewise, they can opt to dress it down by wearing it on its own and pairing it with the right wash, fit and length of tailored chinos, jeans or trousers. The chambray shirt is a "must have" article of clothing for men who are ready to transition from their college “frat boy” lifestyle and graduate to the gentlemen’s club.

Trinidad has not been excluded from the chambray shirt affair. The chambray shirt is more than a trend in styling menswear locally. It is a reminder of the resolve to continue to contend for the rights of others. Trinidadian designer, Jessel Brizan is the beautiful mind behind The Jessel Brizan Design Group (JBDG) and the commemoration of the Island Chambray Shirt under his label RGG Denim Co. In addition to being the founder of JBDG, he is an educator, distinguished fashion professional, published author, mentor and philanthropist. Brizan has almost a decade of combined international and regional experience and expertise in fashion which has proven to be instrumental in transforming the local fashion industry. He has committed his concept and philosophy in business to philanthropy through fashion in a move to nurture a culture of giving in all aspects of life and business.

Style Inspo: Football icon, menswear guru and entrepreneur extraordinaire, David Beckham is wearing rolled sleeves with his chambray shirt, white chinos and sneakers.      (Photo Credit: PopSugar)

It is no surprise that this class act designer has added the chambray shirt to his collection. He is able to espouse the history of the people of this world and their concerted victories whilst continuing to bring awareness to the battle for human rights, fair trade and ethics with the chambray shirt. Brizan understands that the person who wears the chambray shirt is not only making a home for an essential piece in building their basic collection. The wearer is also making a conscious decision to make a statement by wearing a symbol of the strength and the resilience of a global people and their continued wager for the restitution of workers’ rights worldwide.  The Island Chambray Shirt from the RGG Denim Co. label is currently in stock and available for order online for anyone to access and be part of the movement. Undeniably, an informed decision to wear a chambray shirt for travel and lifestyle is a decision to live with intention and the conviction of purpose. Chambray is more than an essential shirt; it signifies the impetus for change.

Eastern Fusion Fashion in Trinidad

Fashion has always been a way for one to express oneself and make a statement about one’s identity without saying a word. It is more profound than surface appeal to increase one’s attractiveness. It delves with a psychology of colours as each colour has its own meaning. Similarly each fabric whether silk or cotton attracts particular vibrations and energies. When the Indians arrived to Trinidad they brought their customs and their ways of dressing. Some of those remain inherent in the styles of Trinidadian styling today. Silver toe rings were worn in pairs on the second toe of each foot on a woman. It is said that this custom had certain reproductive health benefits for the woman. Also it was insisted that the ring ought to be silver to better absorb energies from the earth that would pass through the body and refresh the being wearing the toe ring. Bangles were cited as having benefits of keeping energy in the body and helping women with blood circulation. Nose rings were marked for benefits of reducing pain when the married woman goes into labour. It is believed that the nose ring would connect with a nerve that runs through that part of the body.


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Of course there is a glaring difference in perception of colour by persons in the Western world versus persons in the Eastern parts like India and Pakistan. We live in modern day Trinidad, an island in the Western Hemisphere juxtapose to Eastern and Western influences. This makes our culture and fashion even more vibrant and dynamic. Our creatives steadily made their move in fusion fashion. Local “fashionpreneurs” who recognized the importance of ethnicity to our culture (even those who have an affinity for East meets West trends) picked up the pace to fill the gaps and deliver fashion tailored to anyone interested in the Eastern Fusion Fashion niche in Trinidad. They identified fabrics, materials, tones and trends with the Trinidadian in mind and created looks that suited the Caribbean woman. The top local Eastern Fusion Fashion designer brands are House of Jaipur,  Neha Karina and Aiela Fashions.


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House of Jaipur is owned by Dhisha Moorjani. She was born to Indian parentage and raised in an Indian home in Trinidad. After her parents passed she devoted her love for them into the brand House of Jaipur. She converted her parents’ home into a beautiful boutique that offers persons the chance to experience Indian lifestyle and culture. She has several Indian fashion fusion lines, luxury resort wear, festival wear and modern Indian wear that she designed herself. There is a tea room for persons to gorge on Indian delicacies and sip from a chai bar. She also curates lifestyle pieces at her store so you can take away not only memories but a piece of the House of Jaipur experience with you. House of Jaipur located at #14 O’Connor Street Woodbrook was recently renovated and has been transformed even more to entertain and excite your senses when you visit!


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Neha Karina, the brand is very versatile. It is owned by Neha Dawar who is from India . She is of mixed parentage Trinidadian and Indian. Neha lives in Trinidad now. She has also completed her studies in India, Dubai and locally at  The Caribbean Academy for Fashion and Design. Neha has an online fashion and beauty series called Coffee and Lipstick. She is also a stylist and marketing consultant. This designer focuses on youthful ethnic  bridal wear, festival wear as well as contemporary wear. You are almost guaranteed to find a striking statement piece in her store and I dare you not to leave without it. Persons can also collaborate with Neha and book a custom fitting for a style they may be interested in wearing. She also stocks stationery and a few lifestyle pieces for those interested.  Neha Karina is located at Hilton Hotel in Trinidad.


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Last but not least is ethnic designer, Sharmila Maharaj.  Affectionately called Mila this designer is also a trained aesthetician, Mehendi artist  and beauty expert. Born to a Brazilian mother and a Trinidadian father she grew up with two cultures. The Trinidadian community she grew up in and quality time with her friends from the East played  huge roles in sculpting Mila’s attraction to the Eastern world. She is an avid jet setter and immerses herself in whichever culture and demographic that she interacts with. It is therefore no surprise to me that her journey in life has taken her creative soul on this path to create a supply of ethnic “athleisure” and contemporary ethnic fusion wear for the demand that is needed in Trinidad. She is the first person in Trinidad to create an athletic leisure “athleisure” hijab. She has also taken note of what is fashionably trending globally and used appropriate forecasting for her local debut. Her recent collection boasted of scarves, maxi shirt dresses and funky Samosa pants  just to name a few. Her clothing can be described as exclusively modest and reasonably priced. Mila’s boutique is based in Central Trinidad. You can browse her boutique collection online and discover a whole new world of fashionable clothing and accessories that have been awaiting your arrival all this time.


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So folks if you did not know where to get your Eastern Fusion Fashion vibes now you do!

May the positive  energies from these pieces find a way to your closet!!!

May the designers continue to ignite the souls of you and others with their passion and creativity!


Give the Gift of Fashion – De Coteau Designs for Christmas

dc designs(Carnival Monday Wear Photo Credit: De Coteau Designs)


1.Who is the designer behind the brand?

My Name is Tiffeny De Coteau, founder of De Coteau Designs. I am an Engineering student at UTT. I am studying Manufacturing and Design Engineering. I really do enjoy designing anything basically so that’s why I chose that field and to start my own business.
2. What’s an engineer doing in fashion?
I started De Coteau Designs without any official training I just bought a sewing machine a few years ago to sew clothing for myself. Eventually I gained confidence to sew for friends and tackle swimwear. I took some classes to learn pattern making and construction of swimsuits. I am still learning as everyday we learn something new.
3. Describe your products?
I do women’s wear including swimwear, Carnival Monday Wear and resort wear which are my main focuses right now.
4. What are your plans for the Carnival fashion scene?
This is my first year with the Monday Wear so I am still getting my name out there. I am designing swimwear for the carnival beach goers.
5. What are your plans for the future?
I have already started an Easter Collection and I am collaborating with a designer from Dominica too so stay tuned for that.
6. How can persons interested in your collection or wanting to collaborate contact you?
Anyone wishing to purchase can do so my DM on IG which is @ Decoteaudesigns or email
A note from our editor:
Season’s Greetings All,
I hope you enjoyed this article on Carnival Monday Wear. I just wanted you to know that Monday Wear is relatively new to our fashion landscape. The beauty and functionality in design of Monday Wear is the added bonus that one does not have to wait for Carnival to wear it. These statement pieces are perfect at adding that pop to a simple outfit whether it be a maxi or mini skirt even a pair of skinny jeans, ‘jeggings’ or shorts. If you want they can also work as a dual function outfit. You can cover it up with a blazer for a more chic daytime affair and let loose without the jacket for your night time rendezvous! It’s a “win win” situation as you can buy one piece and use it over and over again with so many different pairing options! So shop now and buy these local pieces for the yourself and the fabulous ‘femmes’ who would love the gift of fashion this Christmas!!!


Let’s Go Trinidad and Tobago