No matter where you roam or who you meet, you’ll not find a collection of peoples more proud of their home countries, and more broadly their home region, than those of us born and bred in the Caribbean. We have a lot to be proud of, no doubt, a notion we’re all-too-happy to herald to anyone and everyone in a wide variety of ways.
From the stickers on our cars, to the flags we frantically wave day and night during Carnival (or any fete for that matter), t-shirts like these, and even our most cherished pieces of jewelry, we’re all about our islands all of the time.
Now, a new company based in Guadeloupe called Coats of Arms is making it easy for many of us West Indians, and all those who love our islands, to wear our hearts on our sleeves, literally and in high style.
The company was launched just over three years ago by a pair of young guys with a passion for travel, high-end fashion, and all-things-Caribbean. One of the men, Laurent Gerville-Reache, is a native of Guadeloupe. He described the genesis of the Coats of Arms brand to me very simply:
We wanted to suggest luxury products deeply inspired from the region.
He went on to tell me that his friend and business partner, Richard, was regularly frustrated at not finding any high-end clothing items celebrating the Caribbean during his frequent trips to the region.
It was always the brands that you find from NY to Paris and Tokyo – Lacoste, RL, etc., or cheap t-shirts.
So the duo set out to do something about this, designing and producing luxury polo shirts on par with the quality of Lacoste with each design boldly reflecting a specific island’s pride and heritage through the use of a stylized version of its coat of arms.
The striking West Indies Federation polo I’m pictured in above is one of 13 current Coats of Arms designs, with equally fashionable styles available in men’s and women’s sizes for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Barthelemy, Dominica, Grenada, St. Maarten, and St. Lucia.
Now, if you like attention, you’ll want to pick up one or two of these shirts. EVERY time I wear mine, total strangers approach me wanting to know where I got it and what the West Indies Federation is/was. The cut is also rather flattering, as my Auntie Marica and one or two other ladies pointed out several times during my last visit to Trinidad earlier this month!
Laurent told me they’d like to have every individual Caribbean country represented eventually, so if your island isn’t on the list just yet, it’s just a matter of time, and the securing of necessary government authorizations…
Coats of Arms luxury polo shirts range in price from 105.00 to 125.00 Euros (about US$146 to US$173). You can buy ’em next time you’re in Guadeloupe at The Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Golf Course in Saint Francois, Grand-Terre as well as at the cruise terminal, or the Coats of Arms store in Pointe-a-Pitre.
You can also order them online via the Coat of Arms website.