Fiji Fashion Week launch

Models at Fiji Fashion Week launch

Beauty, heart, strength and sustainability

By Sera Tikotikodua-Sefeti

The Fiji Fashion Week launch on Saturday night saw Fiji’s creative community and its supporters enjoy a fun-filled evening that showcased this year’s exciting lineup of designers.

Fiji Fashion Week Managing Director, Ellen Whippy-Knight, told guests that this year’s event will be headlined by “Australia’s global-renowned designer Akira Isogawa opening the show, and Sydney-based Fijian designer Laisiasa Davetawalu closing the show.”

“Laisiasa is a testament to what sets Fiji Fashion Week apart. We not only showcase our local talent but we go beyond the fashion show, and Laisiasa, who graduated from Fashion Design School in  Sydney with a Bachelor of Fashion and Design, is the first iTaukei to be employed by Australian big brand Zimmerman,” she said.

According to Whippy-Knight, sustaining our culture, making our future and celebration is the essence of this year’s Fiji Fashion Week. “Yes, of course we all love fashion, but we do what we do to ensure that the unique Fijian cultural heritage is preserved and sustained for the benefit of our culture, our planet and the people,” she told guests.

This sentiment is shared by the New Zealand High Commissioner, Charlotte Darlow, who attended on Saturday. “Fashion is about storytelling, and it’s also about celebrating what is important and unique about your culture,” Darlow said.

“The journey with Fiji fashion week is transferring those cultural elements, making them commercially viable and not losing a sense of yourself as you look ahead.”

The move to sustainable fashion is not a new concept, but Fiji Fashion Week has made it a hot topic of discussion at this year’s event, making an effort to create a more environmentally friendly fashion industry.

According to the New Zealand High Commissioner, the exciting growth of Fiji’s sustainable fashion industry parallels that of New Zealand, where the industry has been innovative, adaptable, and conscious.

Darlow said: “Sustainable fashion is improving how clothes are managed at the end of their lifetime, to upcycle and reuse, so I’m looking forward to discussing with Fijian designers on how we can make sure we are not following fast fashion but rather sustainable fashion.”

The move towards sustainable fashion is necessary for an industry that has grown and contributed to more than 92 million tonnes of textile waste annually. However it will require more resources, and training.

“The question is, what does conscious design look like? What does sustainable and responsible textile look like? And more than ever, we are looking at collaboration rather than competition because that is where good ideas flourish, “Darlow says.

This year’s event, showcasing 24 designers, 60 models, and hundreds of the hottest new trends in Fiji, is again sponsored by Palmolive for the past three years. Other designers to feature include Maori fashion designer Kiri Nathan and local stalwarts.

Palmolive Marketing Director, Joyti Singh, said, “We want to encourage people to take pride in Fiji fashion products. We want a large and vibrant ecosystem of brand owners and global fashion footprints by 2025.”

In the spirit of supporting local designers and local products, Darlow says, “There is a market to buy fashion and designers shouldn’t have to apologise for their prices, they have to be proud and confident in what they produce.”

“Thank you for supporting beauty, heart and strength, which is at the centre of Fiji fashions’ journey,” she concluded.

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