One would never ever assume that probably the most celebrated, modern day fashion icon coming out of the Caribbean would also be incredibly humble and kind.
But, that’s Meiling.
She is no doubt a quintessential artist. She exudes art. And, her work is pure art – thoughtful creations that demand more than being mindlessly flung on one’s back.
Yet still, Meiling is even more than that…
She is a Trinidadian legend who takes leading her younger counterparts up the narrow ranks of success in fashion, very, very seriously.
For example, according to Anya Ayoung-Chee – herself a globally recognized industry leader – Meiling has stood by her side since the very beginning of her fashion career. She’s like her second mom, she says.
And, this prized gift of guidance isn’t just allotted to a select few… No, Meiling shares her knowledge, resources and access with many young designers, creatives and others, not only in Trinidad, but also throughout the Caribbean.
Here’s a glimpse into the mind of this trailblazing Caribbean woman…
What inspires your work?
Life inspires my work. The flora and fauna of our beautiful island, and even maybe a book I’ve read, music and art… So many different subjects.
At the moment I am consumed with what’s going on globally at this very sad time. To escape, I turn to my new fascination with shadows. During the lockdown I’d spend the day on my verandah and in my garden. I was intrigued by the shadows cast from the trees at different times of the day. I find inspiration everywhere.
How have you been weathering this pandemic?
Business-wise, I’m taking it one day at a time. Mind, body and spirit I nourish with positive thoughts, exercise and meditation.
How do you think this pandemic will change the face of the fashion industry, both within the Caribbean and globally?
I think, or maybe I should say, I hope, that the fashion world, both regionally and globally, will emerge with more mindful practices in reference to sustainability.
In light of the times, are you changing how you do anything within your work, and if so, how?
I will continue to be mindful of ethical manufacturing in order to make my brand a more sustainable one.
Ethical fashion means I don’t overproduce, I treat my team fairly, we use fabrics made of natural fibers, we create a comfortable space for our team to work, and I am conscious about waste and the fabrics I use. I believe that in the Caribbean, we inherently practice slow fashion, and use fabrics that are natural fibers.
What advice would you give young Caribbean designers trying to reach a regional or international market?
The fashion landscape globally has been hard hit, so breaking into an international market may be even more difficult at this time. I encourage young Caribbean designers to use this time to perfect their brands, grow their local clientele, and also, they may attempt to export to the region.