David Andre: Raising the Bar in Haiti’s Fashion Industry
My love of fashion started at a very young, and anytime time I had any extra money or got my allowance as a tween/teen it went to buying fashion magazines such as Elle and Vogue, and well of course buying clothes. I can remember from an early age having an opinion, about what I wore and what I thought was “in” and this passion has for sure carried into adulthood. Upon moving to Haiti through my work with Magic Haiti and Lakay Weekly, I discovered several Haitian designers and had the chance to attend their shows one of them being David Andre.
Phot credit: Jameson Thermitus
Andre happens to be one of my favorite Haitian designers, and someone whose latest collection, I’m always interested in seeing. His attention to detail, the quality, and wearability of his pieces are notable. It was only natural that for the purposes of Caribbean Essence, I catch up with him and get into the beginnings of his career and what inspires his creations.
CE: At what age did you start getting into fashion?
DA: I can say around my teenage years. I was always interested in fashion magazines, fashion shows. I grew up in a family where my parents used to own two ready to wear stores back in the early 90’s. Fashion wasn’t really a secret for me. As they say, it’s in my blood.
CE: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
DA: Right after high school, but I was deciding between fashion design and business management. Sometimes you have to face reality and make a choice, I wasn’t good at all in mathematics, In the end I opted for fashion design.
CE: Did you study fashion design, or have any formal training, if yes where?
DA: Yes, I went to a fashion school in Haiti (Academie Verona), I went to Formamod in France for some advanced trainings for professionals and at UTT in Trinidad & Tobago for workshops. I have to tell you that the fashion industry is like the medicine field where you have to always be aware of the new trend, patternmaking, technology, etc… so I always travel for seminars and trainings, cause the day you stop learning you are dead.
CE When did you start taking your passion seriously as a career, and launch your clothing line?
DA: After my first fashion show back in 1998 at Academie Perfection where I had some good reviews in “Le Nouvelliste”, Haiti’s oldest newspaper. At that time there wasn’t social media for promotion. Only your talent could talk and sell you.
Photo credit: Gaële Clarisse Séjour / Ewa Photography
CE What is your creative process like?
DA: The process of creating a garment starts with an idea that I sketch on a piece of paper, I add colors, and I select the fabric, buttons. For some creations I directly do on paper kraft the pattern or otherwise I work directly on the mannequin to find the perfect line and shape, they call that a toile. Right after I cut the fabric, sewing, finishing and quality control. Once the creation is done, I have a fitting on a model to see if that creation is easy to wear, if the retail price is affordable, etc… so many people think that fashion designers are just having fun, party, etc….no way, not for me, I am always busy working.
CE: What inspires you when creating a collection?
DA: Everything and anything can inspire me when I am working on a new collection. This is why I love to build a mood board so I can visualize and feel the vibe of the collection to be. For example, my 2020 collection that I showcased at Philadelphia Fashion Week was a mix of the jungle in Africa and the Caribbean esthetic.
CE: Tell us about a project which has been your greatest achievement?
DA: Every time I accomplish something in my career I consider it as a great achievement, I don’t really have one.
Photo credit: Freddy Cruz Photography
CE: What are some trends in recent years, you’ve incorporated in your collections?
DA: Ruffles, white fabric (never goes out of style), peasant blouse, off the shoulders.
CE: How would you describe your personal style?
Contemporary glamour, chic and comfortable, timeless elegance through details and originality
Photo credit: Gaële Clarisse Séjour / Ewa Photography
CE: What are 5 staple pieces that women and men should have in their wardrobe respectively?
1. white long sleeves shirt
2. classic blue jeans
3. black tuxedo for evening
4. grey suit for everyday
5. white polo shirt
1. little black dress (passe partout)
2. white long sleeves shirt
3. blue jeans
4. pencil skirt
5. formal black heels
CE: What are some challenges you faced over the years, being an entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
DA: Through the years I and so many other designers have had to face so many challenges such as, the lack of respect for this career, hard to find funds to invest in the business, the cost of materials expensive prices prevents us from selling at a competitive price, lack of power of purchasing in the society affect us a lot when it comes to sell our products.
Photo credit: Freddy Ctuz Photography
CE: What have been some interesting, or exciting accomplishments or moments in your career thus far?
DA: For more than 20 years there are so many accomplishments in my career, I thank the Lord and I am grateful, because I am living my dream. I did travel the world for fashion shows, I have met so many important and interesting people in the fashion industry. At the end of November 2012, for two years 4 pieces of the «Choukoune» collection were exhibited in different museums in Madrid, Spain.
Back in January 2015, 4 pages were devoted to my work in the book "Primed for Success Celebrating entrepreneurship Caribbean vol 3 " published by the Caribbean Export agency.It was an honor for me in February 2019 to receive a certificate of appreciation at the United States Embassy in Haiti from Ambassador Michele J. Sison.
CE: Who are some designers you yourself admire?
DA: I love Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel (RIP), Giani Versace (RIP), Yves saint Laurent (RIP), Valentino, and Hubert de Givenchy.
Photo credit: Réginald Georges
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