(Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, east of the African Coast boasts several features from powder-white beaches, an array of flora and fauna and clear tranquil waters of turquoise and blue, which all serve as inspiration for many including artists, poets, and musicians.
For one Seychellois artist, the vast Seychelles waters inspired him the most and in more than one way to becoming a passionate sailor, fisherman, graphic artist, painter and most recently the island nation’s latest designer.
Michael Bouchereau-Arnephie has turned his passion for the sea into an amazing range of Seychelles branded items.
The ‘M Arnephie’ Seychelles brand’ boasts a collection of beachwear including t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, board shorts for men, shorts for the ladies, as well as beer can and bottle holders, mouse mats and coasters.
The illustrations printed on the garments clearly depicts Bouchereau-Arnephie’s love and passion for sports fishing, with several game fish, such as the majestic marlin proudly sporting his clothing line and accessories.
Interestingly, some of the islands and birds of the Seychelles archipelago have also been captured in his designs.
Owning a Seychelles brand is a dream come true
Born and raised in Anse Boileau on the west coast of Seychelles’ main island of Mahé, which is home to about 86 percent of the country’s total population of 90,000, Bouchereau-Arnephie says he always dreamt of creating a Seychelles brand.
“There are many people on the island trying to use the Seychelles label and make a brand out of it but at times some of them are not entirely Seychellois and those who are authentic…only remains on the local scene,” said Arnephie in an interview with SNA
“I want people to get used to my brand, a 100% Seychellois brand. For now we are focusing on the local market but the main intention is to push to the international market. As hard as it is, I want to be doing something completely different, something completely Seychellois from scratch.”
Entering Bouchereau-Arnephie’s workshop located at the Seychelles Yacht Club in the island nation’s capital of Victoria one can immediately spot the striking blue colour of the ocean in almost every design.
Although the Seychellois artist is venturing into launching a Seychelles brand for the first time he is surely not entirely new to the fashion world.
After studying fine art at the Seychelles Polytechnic in 1986, Bouchereau Arnephie left his tropical island home to work as a freelance fashion designer in Melbourne, Australia for well-known clothing brands such as Hang Ten, Ocean Breeze, Amco Jeans, and Slazenger Sportswear.
With all the knowledge gathered, the idea to create his own brand surfaced upon his return to Seychelles in 2002, with ‘Creole style’ and ‘H2O’ topping the list of possible names, but unfortunately this did not materialize.
Instead, he established ‘Hi-Tech Graphics’ working on branding for several well-known local brands such as Creole Travel Services, ZilAir and the award-winning ‘Selebre Sesel’ airplane livery of the Air Seychelles domestic fleet.
Last year, Bouchereau Arnephie revisited the idea to create a Seychelles brand and eventually got things started. He spent days and months to get a truly authentic brand as well as finding the right manufacturers that could deliver on his specific requirements.
“Apart from my designs, the clothing offer 30% solar guard and most items are from different manufacturers in China. I work with them on strict guidelines whereby I hand them my fabric specifications, the designs for each garment, the labeling etc..,” he explained to SNA.
Unlike the launching of most fashion brands that have multiple involvements, the Seychellois artist has managed the whole process on his own.
“Since I have several manufacturers…depending on their schedule and on my personal preference to have a simultaneous shipment, it can take three to four weeks for the collection to arrive in Seychelles.”
Always dreaming it big
It is evident that the Seychellois artist has a thing for challenges. In October last year, Bouchereau-Arnephie battled almost 70 artists worldwide to emerge the ‘Readers Choice’ of Marlin Magazine’s 2015 Marlin Offshore Art Gallery competition.
The winning painting of his majestic sailfish cutting through crystal blue waters leaving trails of tiny bubbles in its wake, its long sharp bill pointing towards the school of mackerel it is chasing into the deep was featured in the December/January issue of Marlin Magazine.
The artist confides in SNA, that having a collection of paintings of the sea made it easier for him to start his new brand. He only had to reproduce his art works on the clothes in a way that it not only captures a small bunch of the country’s sailors and fishermen but also makes it an ideal choice for anyone.
“I would like to introduce more themes in the future but for now the fishes and birds are good enough to start with,” said Bouchereau Arnephie adding that he would like to see more people venture into producing 100 percent Seychelles branded products.
A Seychelles brand made for the local and international market
According to the artist and designer the response so far have been positive. Currently, he sells the products in bulk to certain outlets in Seychelles but is looking into the possibility of having his own shop in the near future.
The products are also advertised on social media platform – ‘Facebook’ and ‘shopify,’ an e-commerce platform where people from overseas can buy the clothes and accessories.
“I have put all of my personal savings in this project, before that I approached some banks and they were not really interested to offer me a loan. My biggest problem is the custom fees …which contribute towards making my garments a bit pricier than the average garments available on the market,” Arnephie told SNA.
For his first collection Bouchereau-Arnephie has a different price tag for the local and international market. Locally the price of the different products range from $5 to $74.
In spite of the challenges encountered, Michael Boucherau Arnephie believes that the sky is the limit and would like to expand his product line.
“It requires a lot of dedication and hard work. I am not there yet because at the end of the day I still need to make sure my garments are being sold… but things are going well so far…in future I want to expand the women’s line and include products such as beach bags, bikinis, more shorts and tops,” he said adding that this is based on feedback received from customers.
“As we grow I am also thinking of bringing onboard some fashion designers for the ‘M Arnephie Seychelles brand’, because I would need people to help me out with the local and international seasonal trends as well as colour preferences.”
Source : Seychelles News Agency