Ali: It’s All About Developing SMEs in the Fashion Sector

The Fijian Fashion Festival is about exposing the best that Fiji has to offer. The Fashion Festival and its logo was launched on December 9, last year at Café Noir.
17 Feb 2018 11:00
Ali: It’s All About Developing SMEs in the Fashion Sector
Fashion Council of Fiji chairman Faraz Ali.

The Fijian Fashion Festival is about exposing the best that Fiji has to offer.

The Fashion Festival and its logo was launched on December 9, last year at Café Noir.

Under the umbrella of the Fashion Council of Fiji, the Fashion Festival is scheduled for June 1 and 2 at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, an event that’s not to be missed.

It is a refreshed trade and consumer platform that will solidify the fashion industry’s position as a small and medium enterprises generating industry.

Fashion Council of Fiji chairperson Faraz Ali said: “Everyone in our event team, from our Event manager Sydel, to our Social Media manager David Solomone are all locals.

“People who have lived and breathed our way of life and who understand the realities of Fiji.

“People who support local designers in the knowledge that we are ready for the world, and we have been the forerunners of fashion in our region for decades.

“We want to encourage everyone to realise that the last decade or so of fashion is not all there is.

“Our heritage and foundation goes well beyond fashion in the age of social media.

“Let’s celebrate who we are, and let’s expose all the talent we have that has been developed and cultivated over all that time. Let’s keep it 100 per cent Fijian.”

Below are excerpts of an interview with the Fashion Council of Fiji chairperson Faraz Ali:


  1. Can you tell us about the Fijian Fashion Festival?

The Fijian Fashion Festival is an initiative of the Fashion Council of Fiji.

The Fashion Council of Fiji is the national peak industry body for the entire fashion industry which is comprised of designers, photographers, stylists, hair and Makeup, PR, stage and lighting, events, creative directors, writers, textile designers, graphic artists, bloggers, seamstresses, and tailors.

So the Fijian Fashion Festival is truly Fiji’s first not-for-profit, industry owned, trade and consumer fashion platform. The purpose of the Festival is in line with the goals of the Council, which are to develop SMEs in the Creative Sector in order to create Creative opportunities for Fijians, and also to establish Suva as the global centre for Pacific fashion.

The Fijian Fashion Festival is the driver of our industry’s future, through the Fashion Council of Fiji.

We continue to work towards the formalisation of our industry through ensuring that Creatives, particularly our brilliant designers move out of the informal economy where many have operated for some time.

The Festival is also at the centre of our plans to establish a Design District in Suva in the very near future.

The show is particularly exciting because it’s a new format. The Friday and Saturday night shows are group shows of up to 10 designers each night showing collections of up to 15 pieces each.

Saturday during the day, three designers will take up the challenge of presenting individual shows.

These shows will be completely styled to their aesthetic and branding. The show space will be transformed in order to transport the viewer of the show into the mind of the designer.

Our PR and events team will be completely at their disposal for their individual show where they can show a full collection of 45-60 pieces. This is a first for Fiji, and we hope to expand this moving forward.

Another exciting element of the show is the online stream and electronic trading platform. With very strong support from FBC, we will be live streaming the show all over the world, and in an age of immediacy we are ensuring sales for designers through an electronic trading platform.

This will allow designers to connect directly to their market both locally and globally. Our goal is to ensure a return on the designers investment, and this is the most effective way to connect them directly to their market, a majority of whom are the Fijian and Pacific Island diaspora who want access to Fijian designer and made goods. We’re taking the show to them and making them a more integral part of our journey.

We are committed to ensuring that we also work with our young people to uncover talent, and to provide opportunities for Creative employment and entrepreneurship after high school. We are very lucky to have APTC working with our industry in providing fashion training, and our own plans include an Incubator or “Hub” which we plan to launch in July. All these elements support the success of the Festival, which is the culmination of all the work the Council has done over the last few years to create an environment conducive to thriving fashion business.

We are also very excited to be having the Festival at the Grand Pacific Hotel and are very grateful to the support of Peter Gee and Mohini Lata for their support of our efforts to bring the biggest fashion event of the year to the best event venue in Suva.


  1. How many fashion designers will be part of the show?

We have a limited number of 23 for the festival. We are focusing on high quality designers who can be developed into strong local, regional, and global businesses.


Brief description of the designers

Current designers who are showing exclusively with the Fijian Fashion Festival include Samson Lee, Aisea Konrote, Pacific Island Art, Zelda Thomas, Naina, Samal Singh, Su Samuels, Rachel Fairfax, Elaine Taylor, Carolyn Ah Koy, Ilai Jikoiono, Rowie Lal, and new designers Libby Pickering, Alipate Sowane, and Honson Keong.

Designers who are showing an exclusive collection at the Fijian Fashion Festival, but may also be presenting a collection at another show include Hupfeld Hoerder, Robert Kennedy, Rako and Rosie Semisi.

The designers involved are world class, and have either already started operating successful fashion businesses, or are new designers with global vision. With a lineup like this, we can only expect an explosive show.


  1. What are some of the activities lined up for the two-day show that people can expect apart from the actual shows?

The Festival will include a Mini Mall, what we are calling the “Style Hub”, where consumers can browse the collections of designers, and other related products. For example Shane Bower has already committed to a space within the Style Hub where you’ll be able to view, purchase, and order from this brilliant and unique Fijian artist.

Thursday night will include an Exhibition of our industry’s history through photographs, archived marketing material, and fabric, to celebrate our proud heritage. Fiji has always been at the forefront of fashion, all the way back to the 50s, and we have always had successful designers and other industry players living and working right here. We are excited that Damodar Cinemas has come on board as a sponsor, and look forward to also presenting an art installation piece at all their cinemas countrywide, again, to honour our history.

The cocktail will be followed by a gala dinner where we will be presenting a traditional showcase of Masi from the 14 provinces to take people to the origins of fashion in Fiji which is embedded in our beautiful indigenous culture. We hope that this will also lead to the creation of business for traditional artisans who trade in these materials and styles. The Gala dinner will be in aid of a major charity, who we are currently in discussions with.

Our major sponsor Victoria Wines will host industry party’s leading up to the event, and we will also be proposing a Prosecco tasting night. We are currently working on ideas for themed events that everyone can get involved with including potentially “Iris Apfel” and “Paris is Burning” themed parties. That corner of town (Cafe Noir, O’Reilly’s, Shenanigans, Suva Business Centre) is the new “Fashion Central”, and we look forward to developing this in the weeks leading up to the Festival and beyond.


  1. What is the theme for this fashion festival?

There is no theme for the Festival. We believe that the heroes of the story should always be the designers, and the brilliant supporting players who bring their vision to life. The platform itself should be flat, allowing the designers to shine and take centre stage.

There is therefore no overall theme or themed nights. We are giving the designers the respect of putting on a show that reflects who they are with no interference in their creative process. Of course, we ask that everyone who attends comes dressed in their best! And hopefully in Fijian designed and made clothes.


  1. What is the price of the ticket?

$150 per ticket per night. The designers determine the price of tickets for the individual day shows on Saturday.


  1. How many people are you expecting at the two day shows?

Seats are limited at 150 seats per show (all front row), and there are five shows (two evening group shows and three day time individual shows), there will be 750 sittings, but some of those may be people who attend all five shows, or two shows, and so forth.


  1. Can you tell us your upcoming programme for the year for the Fashion Council of Fiji?

This is a busy year, as always, for our Council. We have a lot of training programmes ahead of us, of course the Fijian Fashion Festival, and in October/November the Fijian Fashion Design Awards, which will honour members of our industry who have strived for and achieved excellence in 2018.

We are pleased that we will from the month of Feb have Andrew Powell join us to offer monthly workshops.

Andrew is an incredibly talented fashion designer and with his current role at one of Fiji’s largest garment producers, Lyndhurst, he will bring a wealth of knowledge to those who attend the workshops.

Neisau Tuidraki, who is also the Secretary of the Fashion Council of Fiji, will be presenting workshops on Public Relations for Fashion. Neisau is a seasoned media personality with a long list of successful PR projects, and her contributions to fashion businesses is invaluable.

We have such incredible talent right here in Fiji, and the Council is heavily focused on exposing local talent by first seeking local expertise to support local business.



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