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Elizabeth Arthur breathes fashion. Surrounded by much of it as a child, this former resident of Scarborough, Tobago, and mother of one has simply blazed her own trail in the world of fashion, gracing major fashion events across America with her envied swimwear line tagged Kimimi Swimwear. Always with a Caribbean touch, the 42-yearold says her brand was made for every woman desiring of feeling sexy to embrace their flaws and just feel good about themselves. Here, she chats with the T&T Guardian as she gets ready to showcase her collection at the April 26 Fashion Coda 2018 annual event in Tobago.
She reveals how it all began and where this swimwear fashion designer plans on going. Q: How did you get into designing?
Was it a natural knack that you had or a long-time aspiration? A: In my family I was always the go-to girl for any fashion advice. With that being the case my love for clothes and styling my close friends and family members was perfect to explore my passion.
Where did you receive your formal training?
I worked with my brother, Lawrence, for 12 years. He worked for Calvin Klein, Jockey, Rocawear, Apple Bottoms then he created his own brand weight clothing where I worked for him.
Why did you migrate and before you migrated, what was your involvement in the local fashion industry?
I was travelling to the US since I was nine-years-old. Due to the migration of my grandmother in 1973, my family had the opportunity to visit the US in the 1980’s. I migrated in 1992.
You are described as a swimwear designer. Why swimwear? And do you design otherwise?
Going to the beach as a child and young adult, I always saw women of all shapes and sizes.
But what I also noticed is the women that did not have the perfect body would wear a swimsuit, but wear a shirt as a cover-up, trying to hide their flaws or even some shorts. I wanted to create swimwear for women of all body types so they can feel confident on the beach.
Swimsuits are my main focus at this time.
As a Caribbean-born designer, how does the Caribbean aesthetic influence your work?
Being in the Caribbean I always had a love of butterflies. They were so colourful and beautiful.
I always thought of butterflies as being similar to a woman. Like butterflies we are all different and beautiful in our own way.
What doors have you been able to open being a designer?
I’ve had the opportunity to show at LA fashion week, St Barth the Hamptons. I was also featured in Social Life Magazines 2016 and 2017. Not only will I showcase at Tobago Fashion Coda, I will also be featured in Miami Swim Week in July and also St Barth the Hamptons for Social Life Magazine. And I was also previously featured in online articles from Hello Beautiful, www.hellobeautiful.com and Fashion Manuscript of Fashion Institute of Technology.
Can you talk about sharing the runway with esteemed international designers?
And let us know where the swimwear brand has showed and the response.
Being around other designers has been a great experience. I’ve showed at both New York and Los Angeles’ fashion week. My story is one that I find is easy for consumers and supporters to gravitate to and love; not only am I designing to further express my enthusiasm for fashion but also because of my overall understanding of a female’s body.
How is your swimwear different from other high fashioned swimwear? What would make someone go for the Kimimi brand over another? And tell us what’s the story behind the name Kimimi?
Kimimi swimwear’s mission is to transform each individual that wears the pieces from ordinary to extraordinary. Kimimi (Sioux translation for a butterfly) was created to express a woman’s beauty. We are all different and beautiful in our own way. Kimimi Swimwear exemplifies and accentuates feminine beauty.
It combines colours, styles and patterns inspired by the natural beauty of a butterfly.
You will be presenting a collection at the 2018 Fashion Coda carded for April 26 at the Magdalena Grand in Tobago. What can fashion enthusiasts expect?
I would like my story to be told on the runway.
How have you been giving back to the island of Tobago through your profession and career as a somewhat mainstream designer in your own right, with Caribbean roots?
As a former student of Signal Hill Secondary School, I created the Elizabeth Arthur Design Challenge. The challenge is for every student to create an item to add to my collection from which I would select a winner, who will be featured at Fashion Coda, as well as on my website.
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