By Leila Parina
“I am excited and humbled as well to be part of the whole experience and the industry as well,” said Michael Mausio after winning the “Progressive Development in a Fashion Business” category at the Fiji Fashion Week (FJFW) Awards.
Although he has been nominated before, this was Mausio’s first win at the awards.
Mausio has been part of Fiji Fashion week for 14 years, taking part in his first show in 2009 and started his own fashion business, House of Mausio in 2018. His business has grown since then, resulting in local and regional sales. “We sell our brand in Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, and Nauru as well,” he says.
Finding the right balance between fashion and business can be a challenge, Mausio says, “[It’s] a lot of research and watching how the market goes, and the trends in the market… so balancing out the creativity and the commercial side of it is a very tricky aspect of running a fashion business”.
He also says many new designers or people who do not know much about the industry, only see the “glitz and glamor”.
Mausio says the industry is very competitive, and sourcing raw materials can be difficult. Designers are highly dependent on the international market and are affected when things happen around the world. But he also says Fijian designers do not need to look far for inspiration: “We have our own unique prints that are unique to the Pacific so that gives us an edge to the international market.”
Mausio encourages younger designers to look at fashion through a commercial lens. “You need to sell your garments in order to make money to keep pursuing your passion.”
Mausio was among several designers and fashion leaders honoured at the Fiji Fashion Week awards and anniversary dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel last week.
The Designer of the Year award was won by Epeli Tuibeqa. The Kuiviti Designs owner expressed how grateful he was to have won the award, as it means that his hard work and efforts are being recognised. Tuibeqa has been designing clothing for 13 years, and says he is grateful for his mentors in the industry and other designers he has learnt from. He also takes inspiration from his family.
Other winning designers included Laisiasa Davetawatu (Rising Star), Samson Lee (Excellence in Fashion Commerce), Letila Mitchell (Sustainable Impact and Development), Moira Solvalu (Innovative Textile Print), Tracey Farrington (People’s Choice Award), and Hupfield Hoerder (FJFW Legend Award).
Also present at the event was Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Faiyaz Koya who said he looks forward to seeing the Fijian brand expanding and growing regionally and globally.