marilee

Models display pieces from the latest marijuana-inspired collection by fashion designer Leah Cadogan, (left),  while one of her a marijuana printed swimsuit is worn by the model at right.

Since the decriminalised of marijuana in Trinidad and Tobago, local designer Leah Cadogan says it’s time to move away from the negative connotations associated with marijuana and showcase the more positive aspects of the herb.

The 32 year old designer launched her fashion label called Marilee in 2016, which is a combination of her name and the marijuana plant. Shortly after that, she created a marijuana inspired swimwear line.

For the cannabis creator, her clothing line back then did not receive rave reviews. She hopes with the herb decriminalised people will be more open-minded to her marijuana fashion designs.

She said, “My marijuana inspired fashion brand which I created since 2016 was subjected to ridicule locally but praised internationally. This confuses me since so many people in Trinidad smoke marijuana and love it!”

Cadogan says the lack of support shown within the local fashion community was palpable for her marijuana creations, but it only spurred her on to turn her dreams into reality.

“Everything I do from scratch. Though the hours are long, the end result is priceless,” she said.

“My brand is authentic, and what I do is art. Marijuana is often seen in a negative light, and that needs to end. My brand is inspired by something natural and pure that was placed here by the Almighty.”

Originally from Carenage, Cadogan now resides in Chaguanas, and only began sewing in August.

Like fashion designer, and former beauty queen Anya Ayoung Chee, who also learned to sew months before going on the American hit television series Project Runway, and then winning the show in Season 9, Cadogan hopes to find as much success if not more with her own career.

Cadogan says her journey to become a designer has been riddled with a few challenges.

She says despite the uphill battles, she has learned from it and believes she is a much stronger person because of it.

She said, “I was arrested in 2017 for a gramme of marijuana and a grinder. I was thrown into a van like a criminal and spent a weekend in a cell.”

At the time, Cadogan admits, she felt the treatment was harsh for the small quantity of ‘weed’ she had in her possession, but says her time in the cell gave her time to think.

The 32 year old designer has since moved on and has teamed up with her business partner Jamal George to open their boutique called We Lab, recently.

The store which is located in Chaguanas will feature Cadogan’s marijuana inspired creations.

She said, “The boutique is more than just that. It is also a production house. We do everything there. We don’t just sell clothes. We design, cut, and sew. Everything we sell can be customized to suit clients.”

Apart from designing, Cadogan is also furthering her aspirations in music.

She uploaded her latest release to Youtube called “Trini Girls”.

She said, “We claim to be moving towards a positive future as a nation, but we need to stop treating something so pure as a crime. Last time I checked a marijuana plant cannot pick up a gun and shoot someone. There are a lot of social ills going in the country, which is creating the perfect breeding ground for criminals.”

Commenting on the recent passing of the Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Bill, which has decriminalised the possession of 30 grammes of marijuana or less, Cadogan said, “I am glad to see that marijuana has been decriminalised, but this should have been done long ago. There are more serious issues going on in the country for people to be locked up for small amounts of weed.”

“Weed don’t harm people, people harm people,” she said.

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