Anya Ayoung Chee
“I endeavor to design pieces that are both easy to wear and sensual in the way that the Caribbean is at once a paradise and a mystery. With this in mind my hope is that these pieces remain essential elements in my customers’ wardrobes, or at least come out once a year for that dream trip to a warm and exotic part of the world!”
Anya Ayoung Chee has taken fashion and design beyond the Caribbean shores. A graduate of Parsons School of Design and Central St Martins School of Art and Design, Anya began her journey in New York City as a graphic designer and returned to Trinidad in 2007. Anya designed her first collection in 2009 for her label, Pilar, and in 2010, launched the lingerie line, Anya de Rogue, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
Combining entrepreneurship with her love of the design disciplines, Anya has explored various avenues to integrate her love of fashion, design, Trinidadian culture and commerce. Having achieved the success of winning the ninth season of the popular US Television show, Project Runway, in 2011 she was determined to use the knowledge and exposure to catapult the local fashion industry. The former Miss Universe contestant disrupted the local market and launched an e-commerce platform for the sale of embellished swimwear, known locally as Monday Wear, branded as ‘cANYAval’.
cANYAval has since evolved into an events production company hosting carnival inspired experiences both in the Caribbean and in the US. Her company also designed and produced carnival costumes for Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Los Angeles and Toronto. Her Caribbean fashion collective, Exhibit A, and cANYAval intend to provide an online marketplace for Caribbean designers to manage and develop their own online presence. She started another first with her co-working space HOME which is dedicated solely to the creative industry based on the model of creating like-minded communities that can work together to develop a sustainable business model for the industry.
cANYAval, Exhibit A and HOME have all provided platforms for young designers, chefs, event producers, photographers, videographers, and business development professionals to nurture their skills, reach a wider audience, test and experiment with their entrepreneurial efforts and gradually develop their paths toward independent, yet collective, growth. Anya intends to continue to grow and develop the local industry working assiduously to broaden the global reach for local artists and designers. She is dedicated to “hybridizing” the carnival concept and contributing to the evolution of the art form.
Anya is fully dedicated to the empowerment of women and fully believes that entrepreneurship is key. Anya’s drive to succeed is rooted in her personal need to achieve her best in any endeavor and the desire to continuously learn, grow, improve and reach new heights within herself.
Anya’s chosen charity is The Tallman Foundation, founded by her family in 2004. The foundation is geared toward the transformation of youth through arts education. Through the Anya Ayoung Chee Foundation which was founded in 2014 she hopes to provide annual grants to the most promising designers to further accelerate their growth.
TogetherWI, Anya’s most recent endeavor, is a creative agency for social impact. TogetherWI combines innovation and design thinking methodologies to tackle social issues currently plaguing the Caribbean region. At the heart of this approach is a strong belief in combining civic engagement and social entrepreneurship as a sustainable model for impact and societal evolution.
"Sustainability in fashion for independent designers from the developing world can be a bit of a struggle, in the sense that our access to fabrics is mostly limited to generic goods imported from China and India, and the effort to create new technologies and innovative materials is not yet a common practice. That being said, attention to detail, high production values and a unique fashion perspective are our way of creating sustainability by providing our customers with garments that are long lasting and individually Caribbean. Within my Anya Ayoung Chee Limited Edition line I endeavor to design pieces that are both easy to wear and sensual in the way that the Caribbean is at once a paradise and a mystery. With this in mind my hope is that these pieces remain essential elements in my customers’ wardrobes, or at least come out once a year for that dream trip to a warm and exotic part of the world! Either way, sustainability in our context is defined by longevity, and to this end, we do everything we can to inspire lifelong relationships between our customers and our garments."