If you’ve scrolled through Instagram during any Carnival season in the last few years, you’ll notice one major trend taking our streets by storm. No, I’m not talking about boots or fishnets or wire bras, I’m talking about sunglasses. Not just sunglasses, though, Sanianitos.
Even if you don’t recognize the brand’s name right away, chances are you know the products—perfectly placed on faces in every event from breakfast fetes to J’ouvert to pretty mas itself. And that’s all because of Sanian Lewis.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur and designer has always loved accessorizing, putting her own spin on her local wardrobe and making her outfit her own, so it’s only natural that the fashion-lover found a way to make accessories her life.
“I always thought accessories could really bring out your personality,” she said, describing what drew her to the design category. “I loved sunglasses and earrings and detail in general in that way.”
From intricately-painted pairs of sunglasses to hand-stitched earrings and wire-bent bracelets and rings, Sanian has had her hand in every type of accessory over the last five years—but what she’s best known for: her sunglasses creations; and notably—her carnival collection.
It wasn’t until Carnival 2017 when Sanianitos really became the road staple that it is today. Collaborating with beauty queen Sarah Jane Waddell, Sanian created pieces that complemented her looks for both days, and she was inspired. But it was working with Humzee Mohammed of Fantasy fame and designing a whopping 66 pairs to accompany his different sections of Monday Wear that encouraged her to really create a full-fledged Carnival line. The line, Humzianitos, pulled elements of the costumes into her designs, and created one cohesive look.
But the real reason you’ve seen Sanian’s designs plastered all over your Instagram feed this Carnival has something to do with both Valmiki Maharaj and Solange Govia—both costume designers who approached her to create complementary pieces to their sections. Maharaj’s section in The Lost Tribe offered an “add to cart” option to masqueraders, allowing them to pay a little extra to be a little extra, but Govia’s Tribe section ‘Sambala’ presented Sanianitos as part of the costume package.
“I really enjoy working with Solange,” Sanian explained. “She’s very much about women empowerment, women in business, the female entrepreneur—I really appreciate that.”
Combined with creating a mirrored collection to accompany Sarah Jane’s Midas Monday Wear collection, Sanianitos were all over the road—and she credits working with these strong figures and having their support that really made the experience what it was.
“I believe in their passion and drive as businesswomen, businessmen,” she added.
Sanian’s jump into fashion wasn’t a shocking one. In fact, she grew up in a family that loved fashion—her parents owned a men’s clothing store in Normandie when she was a child—and she spent hours devouring fashion magazines that her well-travelled aunt would bring back for her. But it was enrolling at the fashion program at UTT that really taught her how to be a storyteller through her pieces.
The Caribbean woman is not the woman who does too much—with her, less is more, because all of the personality and all of the vibe comes from her
“It’s very easy in Trinidad and Tobago to find people that are creative by nature—and I always had the imagination and the interest,” Sanian explained. “But UTT taught me, beyond just how to render designs, the importance of research and creating a story using certain elements—colour, print, era-inspiration, silhouettes, and tying that into the story you want to tell.”
And every single detail of Sanian’s story is well-thought out. Unlike most other fashion glasses, Sanianitos don’t just look pretty—they’re UV-protected, giving you the eye protection you need while still providing the fashion flair you want. You can tell that Sanian has put so much thought into every single piece of the puzzle—and it’s perfectly—crafted for the Caribbean aesthetic.
“The Caribbean woman is not the woman who does too much—with her, less is more, because all of the personality and all of the vibe comes from her,” Sanian explained. “You can always tell who a Caribbean woman is, because she has some kind of vibe, some kind of flavour—but it’s still not in your face.”
And to Sanian, that means simple styling with a flair for accessories—letting the personality do the talking, while still looking chic and stylish.
“The Caribbean woman has a story,” she added. “She has a vibe outside, she’s not just another face in the crowd, something about her stands out and it’s intriguing.”
It’s this same story that Sanian aims to showcase in every single piece of Sanianitos—and it’s definitely one worth reading.