Hupfeld Backs Council’s Plans

Hupfeld Hoerder, an Executive Member of the Fashion Council of Fiji, is a household name, synonymous with vibrant colours, the highest quality, and the friendliest smile this side of the
24 Feb 2018 11:00
Hupfeld Backs Council’s Plans
Chairperson Fashion Council of Fiji Faraz Ali with fashion designer Hupfeld Hoerder

Hupfeld Hoerder, an Executive Member of the Fashion Council of Fiji, is a household name, synonymous with vibrant colours, the highest quality, and the friendliest smile this side of the Pacific.

But to describe him in one word, Hupfeld is fashion.

He is our best known/designer with a career spanning three decades, beginning with a Resort Wear entry at the 1988 Wella Fashion Awards, which he went on to win in his category.

In fact, Hupfeld boasts 25 fashion awards that he has collected over his long and distinguished career, with no evidence of slowing down. He continues to go from strength to strength.

His most recent achievement is his selection to create and exhibit a garment at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

This will be his 8th international appearance, his first being at the Islands of the World Fashion Week in 2008, held in the Bahamas, “I almost emptied my mother’s credit card to go and show in the Bahamas!”, he laughs when re-telling the story of his first international experience.

“I was given that opportunity through the Fiji Arts Council. There hadn’t been shows since 2002 after the last Red Cross Fashion Show which was organised by Zelda Thomas. So I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in a show again. My business didn’t suffer during the years where there were no shows. There has always been an interest in fashion.”


Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

When the organisers of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange thought of Fiji, they contacted Hupfeld directly to exhibit one of his signature garments, which was to be created in collaboration with artisans in Vanuatu.

Fashion designer Hupfeld Hoerder's most recent achievement, the garment he created and was exhibited at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange in London recently.

Fashion designer Hupfeld Hoerder’s most recent achievement, the garment he created and was exhibited at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange in London recently.

“I was given the opportunity to pick my own partners and the reason that I chose these particular Vanuatu artisans was that the aim of the project is to promote and initiate sustainable livelihoods for my partners.

“The purpose was to promote my culture and bring it together with the culture of the artisans.

“I’m very happy about the opportunities, I’ve been able to provide for these Pacific artisans. I hope that they get other opportunities to link with other Fijian designers to form partnerships.”

The Vanuatu artisans, Tousong Kalsong, Liza Garo, and Marie Rourou, who provided sand shells, red beads and unique mats made out of river reeds, which creates a fine woven fabric, don’t belong to an association.

Hupfeld, who worked as a lecturer in Hospitality and Tourism Management at USP for 16 years, found them through an old student, Nick Olli who works for Tourism Vanuatu.

He asked Olli to go out to the source to find artisans who he could collaborate with rather than going through middlemen so that he could deliver financial benefits directly to the women who create these unique products.

The fibres, embellishments and dyes were made sustainably and using natural material.

“It’s all about sustainability in the Pacific.”

With the garment already garnering the guests attention at the Exchange at Buckingham Palace, it will remain in London for exhibition at the United Nations Office for the Commonwealth Summit in April.


Fashion Good Old Days

Reminiscing about the early years of Fijian fashion he says, “the 1980s and 1990s were my favourite time in fashion.

“Even if they were fashion competitions, it didn’t feel like a competition.

“If you won it was the icing on the cake. The feeling was different. There was more a sense of exploration, and enjoyment. It was about just being creative and putting it on the runway.

“Like what could you do with an Indian Sari – make it into a 3 piece suit or something. We had to think outside of the box. It was super! The shows then had an amazing team.”

“I remember how people would dress up and go out. The shows were a reason to dress up.” He says with a brightness in his eyes as though he can see the fashion set of the time.”

Hupfeld at work on one of his pieces.

Hupfeld at work on one of his pieces.

Hupfeld agrees with the Fashion Council of Fiji in saying that Suva really is the hub of fashion in the Pacific, and supports the Council’s ultimate goal of establishing Suva as the global centre for Pacific fashion. “We are the leaders.

“There is a responsibility associated with that. We could be used as a model for the Pacific.

“The Fashion Council Incubator that we’re launching in July will be an important part of involving them.

“Our fashion businesses have to be proud that we can be successful locally. We don’t need to go overseas. Anyone who says we can’t be successful here in the Pacific is wrong, and it’s insulting to us.”

Hupfeld says, talking passionately about Fijian and Pacific fashion talent.

“We don’t need to go to Milan or Paris to be somebody. We can have our own identity and name. We can be well respected here and stay true to our values.” He is himself a living example of this fact.

A lesser-known story about Hupfeld is that he received a scholarship to study fashion design at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in the year 2000. But he was not able to go due to the scholarship being revoked following the coup that year.

“The coup happened the day it was given. My scholarship was immediately cancelled! But I didn’t lose hope.

“I loved what I did, and my business was growing. Even though I didn’t get a formal fashion education, I still pursued my dream. And I believe that that is true for the new young designers now too. If you pursue your dreams, nothing else matters.”

Hupfeld is a big believer in Fiji saying, “I’d never migrate. I love Fiji too much.

“We have so much opportunity right here in Fiji. It is the best place to start up your business. There is so much potential here.”

The Fijian Fashion Festival is excited to have Hupfeld take up the challenge of presenting a full collection as an individual day show, where the show space will be transformed to reflect his identity and his brand.

He is particularly excited about the Festival’s commitment to diversity and will be presenting a Rubenesque/plus size element within his collection.

“For the Fijian Fashion Festival I want to include plus size in a segment of my show. I’m very excited about the Festival. It’s different. There are no limitations. People can walk into my world. I love that part, that I’ll be the Artistic Director of my own show.”


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