From Football to Fashion 

Football, (soccer to Americans) is called “the world’s sport” and “the beautiful game”. As football players gain celebrity status, it is no wonder that they become supermodels or brand ambassadors to some fashion brand. Since the days of Pele, the world has looked at football players not only for the latest in style but also for inspiration. As the worlds of sports and fashion have been intertwining over the years, it can be said that football and fashion go hand in hand.

Some of the most popular players have their own clothing line or have a collaboration with fashion brands. We’ve all drooled (hopefully just us girls) at Cristiano Ronaldo’s underwear line CR7 and David Beckham’s collection with H&M. Following their footsteps at only 28 years old, is our very own Donald Guerrier, left midfielder of Haiti’s national football team.


After opening a store in Poland last year, Donald Guerrier opened a second store this March in the city of Alnyaspor Turkey where he is currently residing and playing for the Alnyaspor football club. His newest 77 Collection showcases his latest designs in sports and casual wear.


I’ve had the chance to meet and talk to Donald regarding his new 77 collection, and here is what he had to say:

FA: What does fashion mean to you and how did you get from playing football to having your own clothing line? What inspired you to have a clothing line?

Fashion means a lot to me, I love clothes in general and Cristiano Ronaldo is my favorite soccer player, and my inspiration in both football and fashion. The idea of having my own clothing line came from my mom. She pushed me to have my own line and together we came with brand name DG 77 at first, and eventually changed it to 77 Collection (pronounced 7 to 7) as 7 is my number.


FA: Do you design your own collection?

Yes they are my own designs, I designed the collection myself. And it’s taken me some time to come with the perfect name 77, to make it simpler and nicer.


FA: Does your Haitian heritage influence your designs?
Euhh… Not really, only my mom  gave me some ideas for my collection, but my Haitian heritage does not really influence my designs.


FA: What kind of material do you use for your collection?
I’m using 100% cotton

FA: What is your favorite piece in this collection?
*laughs* Actually I don’t have a favorite one, I love all of them!

FA: How often do you plan on releasing a new collection?
Every two weeks we have new styles and new designs coming


FA: How would you describe your personal style?
I like complicated clothes, distressed clothes to be exact. I like T-shirts with holes in them that look destroyed.

FA: What is your favorite item of clothing? And what’s a must have in your closet?
T-shirts and jackets! In my closet I must have white T-shirts, I love white T-shirts.


FA: What are your future plans? Are you planning to open another store somewhere else?
I’m planning to open a store in the U.S. I’m working towards that because a lot of people from the U.S are interested in my designs.

FA: Would you want to work on a line for women as well?
Yes I am thinking about it a clothing line for women, it is in my future plans and also kids’ clothes

FA: Are we going to see any of your collections in Haiti?
Yes, last year I brought my collection to Haiti but it wasn’t as successful back then but it is in my plan to bring my designs back to Haiti and eventually open a store in Haiti.


Eklà Beauté: Your Getaway Beauty Salon

On October 1st, I was invited to the soft opening of a new hair salon called “Eklà Beauté” located on Rue Rebecca. Stepping inside the small salon, I was greeted by a calm and relaxing music, along with a soothing and zen decor: wooden furniture and accent pieces, candles, and Buddha heads, designed by owner Christina Fils-Aimé. I was instantly filled with an overwhelming peaceful sensation, which I thought was very odd for a hair salon.



But that was exactly her goal. To create a small place where her clients can leave their worries and workload outside while getting pampered. A place where her clients can be fully attended to without being rushed and without the crowdedness of typical hair salons. A place that works by appointment only because one on one is extremely important. “I want it to be 100% about my clients. I want them to walk out feeling good about themselves and with a smile on their faces. That’s what I enjoy most of my job, to be able to put a smile on my clients’ faces”. 


For us women, getting our hair and nails done is a weekly obligation. Be it to get a wash and blow dry, a hair coloring, or simply a mani-pedi, us women spend a minimum of 2 hours getting dolled-up at the hair salon on week-ends. Needless to say that hair salons have become a meeting point, or better yet a social encounter where the latest gossips travel under the boisterous sound of hair dryers.


If you are looking to escape the cacophony of hair salons, then Eklà Beauté is the “getaway” salon for you. While her specialty is hair coloring and hair treatment, Tina also offers various other salon services such as blow dries, hairdos, mani-pedi, and makeup with also a selection of hair products available for sale.


Christina, “Tina” left Haiti at the age of 18 and moved to New York. There, she became a hair colorist and makeup artist and worked in many hair salons before eventually working for Kérastase and L’Oréal. At 30 years old, she moved back to Haiti and left the hair and makeup business. However her love for fashion and hair care pushed her to go back to the hair business. “Everybody has their own beauty, and as long as I can bring that out for them, to me is priceless.”

Eklà Beauté is open Monday-Saturday from 8AM-5PM by appointments only. To get your special treatment, call 4700-1212.

Haiti Needs You 

On Friday I had the opportunity to fly to Jeremie, one of the many towns that was severely hit by hurricane Matthew. I got to see for myself what remains of this town after the passage of Matthew and for as much as I try to share my quick visit there, words fall short to describe what I saw.


It was as if the angel of desolation had passed through the town. Houses, schools and hospitals are completely destroyed, plantations are devasted, and what’s left of the roads are covered in sludge and full of debris. In other words, the town is entirely washed out.



I am not going to fill this article with heart wrenching pictures and videos nor am I going to continue describing the desolate state in which these people are left. I am however, going to ask for each and every one of your help. The storm may have passed but tough times are only beginning. Thousands of people were left homeless and infections and contaminations are just starting. While many charitable organizations, NGOs, and foreign aids are collecting donations and are preparing relief missions to help the affected areas, I strongly suggest to do research before donating to the organization of your choice. Jeremie is only one of the towns that was harshly affected. Let’s not forget Les Cayes, Aquin, Port-Salut, Miragoanes, Anse d’Hainault, Dame-Marie, île à Vache to name just a few. A little bit can do so much and during these harsh times, let us keep in mind our nation’s motto: “l’union fait la force“.

Sow a Seed organization preparing hurricane relief mission for the South

Fondation Rose et Blanc giving out shelters to the South


Haiti is a country that has suffered enough. From a devastating earthquake, to numerous hurricanes and flooding, to dangerous and unstable political turmoils, the Haitian people always manage to come through and overcome these hard times by always holding on to one thing: faith.

Deux Mains Designs: Creating Sandals From Repurposed Tires

 

On Tabarre road, hidden by the boisterous and hectic day-to-day activities of the airport, lies a local shoe manufacturer called “deux mains designs“.  At the atelier artisans craft beautiful handmade sandals and accessories from repurposed tires and local genuine leather.

Yes, you read right, repurposed tires! After hearing about this atelier, I was intrigued by how they use car tires to create those beautiful sandals and tote bags I saw online.  So I contacted deux mains’ VP and part Shareholder Sarah Sandsted. Sarah was more than happy to give me a tour of the workshop.

 
After the 2010 devastating earthquake, CEO and founder Julie Colombino came to Haiti on a complete leap of faith as a disaster response volunteer. In August, 2010, she founded REBUILD globally in an effort to seek alternative methods to traditional forms of charity, and employed four women to hand-make sandals from tires. Over the last five years, through expert guidance, product development and mentorship, REBUILD globally provided the start-up capital and training necessary to develop deux mains designs, an ethical fashion company, registered as a société anonyme in Haiti.

“deux mains” is a small footwear workshop in Port-au-Prince with about 20 employees and craftsmen that work together to create beautiful accessories with materials sourced in Haiti. “deux mains” started off with creating one simple sandal design. Now the atelier have expanded their creations to other accessories such as tote bags, clutches, earrings, passport holders to name a few.

The evolution of Deux Mains sandals

Over the years, the atelier invested in the research and development, and in the designs and aesthetics of sandals, wanting to create more appealing and wearable sandals. What were once plain and staple flip-flops are now sandals designed by Kenneth Cole and supermodel Heide Lindgren.

“Bèl Nanm” sandals designer by Heide Lingrend meaning “beautiful soul”

The Kenneth Cole “Love Haiti” for him sandals

While visiting the workshop, I had the privilege to meet and talk to a few employees. I was amazed at how passionate they are about what they do (some are even part shareholders in the company!) deux mains sandals are so beautifully crafted that you wouldn’t even think they are made with used car tires (believe me the fact that they are, makes them even more appealing!) I couldn’t help but wonder however, how I had never heard or seen them before. Sarah informed me that most of their sales are international and explained to me the difficulty she has penetrating the Haitian market. Surely such incredible work of art should be recognized locally as well. Therefore, I invite you to visit their atelier in Tabarre and check out their website deuxmains.com.

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Below are some employees’ testimonies:

Born and raised in upstate New York, Sarah Sandsted came to Haiti at age 19 to help her mom, a horticulturist, as a French language interpreter. After falling in Love with Haiti, she moved in 2008, as an English teacher in Les Cayes before leaving again to come back after the earthquake in 2011, and finally becoming part of deux mains designs in 2013.

“I believe really strongly that the fashion industry has the power to end poverty worldwide. The ethical fashion initiative is stepping up and challenging traditional fashion industry to make sure they are compensating people appropriately and using ethical practices. 20 families' lives have changed here at deux mains and our vision is to employ millions of people one day.” Sarah, VP.

 

“I used to have my own little cosmetics business before the earthquake. January 12th happened and I lost all of my hard work. Months later I met with Julie, founder of deux mains who employed me and I have been working with her ever since. This job means and represents everything to me. Over the years I bought a land, built my own home for my children and I, and now I am a part shareholder in the company. I love everything about this job and everything I do, my sandals are beautiful and I’m proud of being part of deux mains.” – Jolina.

 

"I’ve been at deux mains for 4 months. I intend to make the sandals even more beautiful than they are and help Haiti move forward. The pèpè business has been like bumps in the road for us but we are here to break the pèpè business.” Alexandre, cobbler.

 

Item of the Week: Long Denim Jacket

This week item of the week is the Zara long denim jacket.

 Denim has been a favorite trend for quite some time now. Most stores even have a denim section with items such as shirts, jackets, skirts, overalls etc…

I found this long denim jacket from Zara’s I am Denim collection. Long sleeves, ripped details, and side pockets, this jacket can be worn as a dress alone or over different outfit as a jacket.


 Scroll below for different looks:




Picture credit: Verdy Verna
Location: Fort-Jacques, Haiti

Item of the week: The Bandana

This week’s item must have is the western inspired accessory known as the bandana.

Worn around the neck, or as a headband to pull back your hair, this 90’s go-to accessory is making a major comeback (like most 90s trends these days).


  

Celebs and bloggers have been spotted rocking this extra, making it the hottest accessory at coachella and a street style favorite!

Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell

Caroline Receveur

Danielle Bernstein from We Wore What


Poze Brand’s 4th Collection

Based in Miami, but inspired by Haitian culture, Poze brand is a Haitian street wear brand for both men and women. The word “Poze” meaning “chill” or “relaxed” in Creole, is heard in most conversations between Haitians. The brand, founded in 2014 by Jeff Appolon, prides itself in teaching the world about Haitians, one word, one picture, and one story at a time. So far 3 collections have been released and the 4th one is forthcoming.

Check out our interview with Mr. “Poze” himself, where he discusses his latest collection.

Tell me about your new collection and what was the inspiration behind it.
• This collection follows up on the previous one which pushes the boundaries further. I want this collection to be engaging to the mind and also laid back. Half of the pieces in the 4th collection visit our rich history and capture moments of glory. As a country, we’ve taken so many L’s in the past that we forget that we were once great.

 
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How does the collection reflect your Haitian background?
• One of the shirt is inspired by the current success of our Haitian national soccer team. I mean, we haven’t won any world cup but we are doing better now. The shirt I’m referring to shows the picture of Haitian soccer Legend Manno Sanon as he scored the famous goal against Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff during the 1974 world cup match Vs Italy. That goal ended Dino Zoff’s long standing 1142 minutes without getting scored on. After I read about it, I thought that it was important to celebrate that moment and glorify him.

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• Another shirt I have is a drawing of the statue of Marie Louise Coidavid, who was Henry Christophe’s wife. I visited the Palais Sans Soucis a couple of years ago and I remember seeing the statue. I remember how proud it made me feel. Somehow I feel that it’s the same feeling that a diaspora gets when they first visit Haiti. Even though only the ruins are left, it shows greatness once existed in our country. I feel like back then, our ancestors were a bit more courageous than us because they did more with less.

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When and where can one purchase the new collection? Will it be available in stores in Haiti?
• Yes it will be available in Haiti. I had the perfect store to sell, but unfortunately with the economic instability, the store had to close down. I am looking at some other places to carry it in PV. More information will be provided soon. Everything should be available beginning of June.

 
How does the brand Poze reflect your personal style?
• I tend to be more on the conservative side, so my designs will be a bit minimalist. I don’t really like loud colors and too much going on in a t-shirt. I usually go for neutral designs that you can wear when you’re out. But every now and then, I’ll collaborate with someone who may have a different taste than me. I try to have the designs balanced. I’ll take suggestions from my friends and see what they prefer. After all Poze is not my personal brand, it’s the people’s brand.

 
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
• I try to keep up with the current trends and add a bit of Haitian mix to it. I’ll be on fashion blogs all day and Instagram when I have some free time. If I see something that catches my eye at the mall, I put a note on my phone. Basically my whole environment.

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Is there someone from the fashion world that inspires you?
• I’m a big Kanye West fan. A lot of times I like his style but other times I feel like he pushes the boundaries but then again that is what fashion is all about. I like his style better when he’s rocking the tall tees, ripped fitted denims and yeezys. I also like Big Sean’s style, he’s always on point.

 

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What is your personal favorite piece of the 4th collection?
• I really like the Manno Sanon t-shirt and the hat with the Poze hands. I feel like I can see those items on the shelf of an Urban Outfitters store. I like that they are Haiti related but with a touch of pop culture.

What can we expect from Poze in the near future?
• I really want to branch out to different things. I wanna go deeper into female and kids clothing but I’m a bit limited as far as man power. I want the brand to evolve and get better with time. My goal is to keep the brand alive so that one day I see it in a website like Complex, The Source or Highsnobiety as a street wear brand to watch out for.

 Fashion Ayiti, the models and Mr. Poze doing the Poze hand sign.