The Business of Fashion is on the road. Our first stop is in Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, an archipelago of islands which has long been a stopping off point for people cruising around the Caribbean. San Salvador Island is where Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World in 1492 to trade with the Lucayan people. When British loyalists came over in 1717, the islands fell under British control and did not gain full independence until more than 250 years later.
Today, the Bahamas is a rich country, with the 3rd highest GDP per capita in the Western Hemisphere and an economy driven primarily by tourism and offshore banking. A recent mega real-estate development called The Atlantis, financed by Sol Kerzner, the titan known for his over-the-top casinos and hotels in South Africa's Sun City, has further boosted the Bahamas as a tourist destination, primarily for sun-seeking Americans with money to spend and gamble away in the cavernous casinos.
With more than 5 million tourists visiting the islands every year, it's not surprising that many of the luxury brands have set up shop to entice these visitors to do a little shopping. What is surprising is that some of them have allowed their brands to be diluted by haphazard merchandising, market-style bargaining, and poorly-outfitted stores under the control of local franchisees. That said, there are still signs that the luxury industry in Nassau is alive and well.