A fashionably fabulous year at FJFW18

Hot on the heels of its 10th Anniversary Show - where we didn't think it could get any better; FJFW2018 is lining up to be a very busy year.  The official launch of FJFW2018 was held in January at the Made in Fiji... New Horizons... Going Global Workshop as this event marked important new changes in the direction for the show: a new collaboration with the Fashion Designers Alliance of Fiji (a recently formed association of designers working for and promoting designer interests); as well as a focus on prioritising designer preparation. Thirty-six designers attended the workshop in an environment that promoted holistic development and dynamic inspiration for the shows this year.

"With several shows planned in 2018, we want our Fijian designers to have that competitive advantage in the market place.  We have worked for the past 10 years to create opportunities for designers within Fiji and overseas and we feel that one of the missing pieces in their success is how to prepare" says Managing Director Ellen Whippy Knight.  "In 2018, this is going to be super-important as we have scheduled Fijian and Pacific designer participation into local and international fashion events such as Pacific Island Fashion Week in Sydney in July and Los Angeles Fashion Week in October."

But first up – Fiji Fashion Week 2018 Resort Collections.  The team at Fiji Fashion Week has planned two nights of runway shows that celebrate the fashion industry’s hottest trend – Resort Wear.  Resort wear is a generic name for clothes that are associated with relaxed lifestyle choices – holidays, weekends, cocktails at sunset on getaways.  Well, that was originally the case, but who doesn’t love the feeling of being on holidays and dressing that way on a daily basis? 

But in today terms Resort wear now encapsulates everything from daily basics, swimwear, ready to wear through to couture.  It is one of the fastest growing fashion genres mainly as it is now categorized as Transeasonal – it’s appeal is widespread because at anytime somewhere in the world it is summer!   This is why Fiji Fashion Week has chosen to focus solely on this market. 

Over two shows on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 May, the FJFW runway will be filled with colour, vibrant designs, unique looks and with something that appeals to everyone.  Each show will have more than 12 designers featuring their latest collections.  There is a new and exciting design group showing for the first time: ‘Nic’s 6 Pack’ – six of the designers who have journeyed through the design workshops with Nicholas Huxley – FJFW Australian Ambassador and well recognized as one of Australia’s best fashion educators.

At the International Sourcing Fair in Sydney October 2017, Fiji Fashion Week represented 6 Fijian and Pacific designers - showcasing local and regional design talent in the hope of attracting international orders.  Fiji has many great, naturally talented designers, and only a few such as Andrew Powell, Robert Verebasaqa, Sonam Sapra, Mala Chawda, Savitri Rae and Artika Devi who studied Graduate courses in Fashion and Design – opting to undertake their studies at international institutions and thankfully bringing their knowledge and experience back to Fiji. 

Notably, 3 of our own were fortunate to be able to attend and graduate from the most respected global Fashion Institutions in the world, Sonam Sapra at Parsons University in New York, Jadeine Whiteside at Shanghai University and Caroleena Bingham at St Martins in London who has worked for international designer, Kate Spade and currently with red carpet specialist Isaac Mizrahi.   All three - Sonam, Jadeine and Caroleena - won substantial awards when they participated in Fiji Fashion Week.

In recent years, a number of designers have graduated with Certificate III and IV in Applied Fashion Technology – an important qualification obtained from the Australia Pacific Technical College.  Local names such as Ashly Duanibau, Laisiasa Davetawalu, Epi Nasaroa, Epeli Tuibeqa, Ilai Jikoiono, Susanna Samuals, Rachel Fairfax, Elaine Taylor are a few of the graduates. 

While this exposure to formal studies has paid obvious benefits to these designers, there is still on the whole a lack of formal training and this is why Nicholas has agreed to assist our designers.  He is offering an honest assessment of what designers need to break into the international market – if that is what they want to do; and this is based on what he has seen on the FJFW runways over the past 5 years and most recently what he saw from the Expo in Sydney.

Fiji Fashion Week is excited that the designer list for 2018 is oversubscribed and they will be refining the designers to create two great shows which really explore the pinnacle of Resort Wear design in Fiji.  A full designer profile will be released in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, a snapshot of the shows include: Resort Mystique on Friday night is a celebration of the relaxed lifestyle vibe inherent in resort wear. 

The show will open with an awe-inspiring entertainment extravaganza in honour of designer Robert Kennedy’s 10th year in fashion.  For the first time ever, Robert will be showing the full range of his current collection ‘Reflections’ which draws inspiration from his last 10 years as a designer and his obvious love of the gorgeous reef and ocean life in Fiji.  Of course some of the ‘6 Pack’ are showing along with a host of other fantastic designers.

Saturday night is Luxe Resort and with that we reach for high-end and luxury collections – exquisite fabrics, incredible detail and a fresh appeal to aspirational dressing.  Highlights of this show are many, and it is guaranteed to be a sell-out.  There are many surprises in store for the audience who has come to expect that Saturday night of Fiji Fashion Week is a total showstopper.  Lots of glamour and fashion firsts.

In a first for Fashionistas, Fiji Fashion Week has created a new and never-before-seen-in-Fiji runway experience with every seat in the front row.  The runway will weave through the audience and create intimate and up close viewing possible.  The runway layout is modelled on European styles which maximizes audience participation and engagement.  Gone are the tiered seating and straight runways of old!  The show’s move to the newly refurbished FMF Gymnasium enables guests to access seating at all price points – the Row A VIP experience is $150 (as always), with ticket prices then at $70, $50 and $30 and $5 in the stadium.  Now more than ever, FJFW is accessible to all who want to attend – and everyone on the ground floor will be amazed with the totally new Fiji Fashion Week experience.

And thankfully, one thing that has not changed is the extraordinary Student Designer Show and Fashion Forum that will be held from 10am – 1.30pm, again on Saturday 26 May.  Registrations are flooding in for student designers who are keen to take up the challenge of presenting capsule collections.  Many of the participating schools are working with their designers as part of the home economics curriculum.  One of the benefits of having such a long and established relationship with the students and the schools as that show preparation has been integrated into the curriculum.  Student designers will also have the opportunity of working with Nicholas in the lead up to their show.  Entry to this show is free.

Other Fiji Fashion Week highlights include: the Official FJFW launch on Monday 21 May; a Fashion Film Festival to be held at Damodar Cinema; an exhibition of designer storyboards and photographs; and private events for visiting international designers from China, Vietnam, India, Australia and France.  Designer Relations Manager, Christine Evans says “that the show this year is again one of the finest.  We invite and encourage international designers to our event to show the beauty and talent that is available in the rest of the world.  We understand that travel is a challenge for most of our population, so if we can bring a bit of the rest of the world to experience the beauty and wonder that is Fiji – then why not!  These designers have as much to learn from our fashion stars as our designers can learn from them – it’s a mutual exchange of knowledge and talent.”

There are also two new ventures with FJFW going regional in Fiji – with planning has begun to stage the first Savusavu Fashion Week, Labasa Fashion Week and Lautoka Fashion Week and Labasa Fashion Week.  FJFW has already commenced discussions with the Soqosoqo vaka marama in both Savusavu and Labasa, who are keen to host these regional events.  And in July FJFW designers will headline Pacific Island Fashion Week in Sydney, September, is London Pacific Fashion Week followed by Los Angeles Fashion Week in October.

We are certainly looking toward a fashionably fabulous FJFW2018. 

Fiji Fashion Week Tickets are on sale now through pre-order.  Bookings can be made to tickets@fijifashionweek.com.fj or by phoning 7088898.  More information on Fiji Fashion Week is at www.fijifashionweek.com.fj

Tickets start from $5 for stadium seating through to $150 for the FJFW VIP experience.

Fiji Fashion Week is being held in association with the Fashion Designers Alliance of Fiji.