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SMEs Come Alive At Big Fashion Festival

Guests arrived at the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival yesterday expecting to immediately see the usual glitz and glamour associated with a big fashion show. But they were first greeted
03 Jun 2018 13:12
SMEs Come Alive At Big Fashion Festival
Mereani Musu selling at her stall during the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival on June 1,2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua

Guests arrived at the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival yesterday expecting to immediately see the usual glitz and glamour associated with a big fashion show.

But they were first greeted by a modest group of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) trying to make a few last-minute sales before the festival came to a close at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel.

The festival provided a chance for the SMEs to promote their products to an audience that included top designers and businesspeople, crucial for an industry that lacks op­portunities to sell outside its smaller markets.

For Mereani Musu, selling hand-made bags against the backdrop of the festival’s themed golden lights was a lit­tle intimidating.

The festival venue was far removed from where the prod­ucts are first manufactured – in the villages of Yakea, Ba and Korotubu, near Rakiraki.

“I travelled from Ba on Thursday to make sure I was here early and prepared to serve the customers,” Ms Musu said.

“These bags are community-made with the combined ef­forts of the two villages with a lot of support from Rise Beyond the Reef Fiji.”

The famous Indian Aza fashion brand was also available for purchase at the mini-market in a booth owned by the Tappoo Group of Companies.

The festival was organised by the Fashion Council of Fiji, the sole body of a growing industry that has at times struggled to attract a large local audience.

The council’s chairperson, Faraz Ali, says the body fo­cuses on industry development, including support for the growth of local SMEs and public engagement.

The council aired festival-related advertisements in vernacular on local radio stations in an effort to engage with a larger audience

It also collaborated with the Fiji Sun newspaper, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation and Mai Life Magazine.

“Our industry is made up of SMEs, and although we would love to see large fashion businesses in the future, at the moment we are an ecosystem of SMEs and we need to support each other,” Mr Ali said.

“We are all creating and we are all putting ourselves out there in a way that a lot of other people don’t and we are taking a big risk.”

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj



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