In a historic first for Fiji – five Fijian fashion designers were invited to participate in the prestigious Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Resort Collection in Australia from 15-21 May 2016.
The top designers included Robert Kennedy of Robert Kennedy Fiji, Rachel Fairfax of RFX, Marika Deku of eponymous label Marika Deku, Eeshaal Niranjan of Model Citizen and Jyoti Singh Jo Kilda.
The show carries on Fiji’s continuing success from last year’s Los Angeles Fashion Week when 12 designers attended.
Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I) Australia was one of the major sponsors under its Pacific Impact Support Programme.
The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) is Australia’s national Fashion Week and the biggest in the Asia Pacific Region according to PT&I Trade Development Manager Mona Mato. It is part of MBFWA’s plan to help their neighbours, the fledgling designers in the Pacific Region he said.
The specific segment was called Pacific Resort. The launch of the Resort collection in Sydney was to take advantage of the global sales window for the collection, designer Dion Lee said.
With a high percentage of retail budgets allocated to Resort, there were good opportunities for export. Resort collections were also a unique opportunity as the only season where northern and southern hemisphere buying calendars align, Mr Lee said.
Vogue Australia livestreamed the Pacific Resort show at 2pm, Friday May 20 to an international audience.
“To be a part of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia was just a fantastic opportunity for our Pacific designers and fashion. We’re all excited in Sydney to be part of this showcase,” Mr Mato, said.
Trade Commissioner Caleb Jarvis described the learnings, connections and the experience the designers gained from this experience as “priceless”.
“We at PT&I are pleased to be able to support the designers at this inaugural showcase as this opportunity gives them that international exposure and opens up export markets for them.
“It is important to recognise the people who have made this happen and I’d like to celebrate Ellen Whippy-Knight of Fiji Fashion Week for her on-going commitment to the fashion industry in the Pacific,” Mr Jarvis added.
Supporting the fashion show was part of the strategy to look at opening up export markets for Pacific designs and fashion, develop the skills of women and create employment opportunities.
Pacific Periscope has been actively profiling the Fiji fashion industry this year with several stories over the past few editions. Fijian TCF (Textile, Clothing & Footwear) sector exports to New Zealand in the year ended 2015 were worth NZ$10.9 million of a total of $55.12 million of all merchandise export -almost 20 per cent of total exports to New Zealand.
Fiji Fashion Week Managing Director Ellen Whippy Knight said, “There is a huge opportunity here to develop a specific Pacific Island Fashion Week as part of MBFWA. It is an indeed an honour and will be great exposure for the Pacific Region and its talented artisans.”
Identifying the event as a springboard for going global Mr Mato said, “This is the ideal platform to embark upon and give international exposure particularly with Sydney up there with the fashion leaders in Milan, Paris, New York and London.”
“The exposure gained by this participation will be exposure to the international buyers representing the top retailers from the UK, US, Europe and Asia, international and local media including bloggers, photographers, fashion magazine editors, agents and personnel from the local fashion trade industry,” Ms Knight-Whippy said.
“This is the start of better things (to come) for our fashion designers … with the hope to include some of our leading designers from other Pacific nations such as TAV Pacific from the Cook Islands and Mena of Samoa” Mr Mato said.
The Fiji High Commissioner to Australia Yogesh Punja attended the event and was thanked by the Trade Commissioner for his support and commitment to the showcase.
“It’s been a lot of fun and we look forward to supporting the growth of these designers and other Pacific designers into the future,” Trade Commissioner Caleb Jarvis said.
Australian Minister Julie Bishop showed her support by retweeting under the hashtag #fashiondiplomacy campaign as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade programme.
The Australian fashion industry is valued at $12 billion, with TCF&L products contributing about $3 billion to Australia’s total exports. In a news release before the event Catherine Bennett, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, IMG Fashion Events & Properties said, “Resort collections present a unique offering, as it is the only season where northern and southern hemisphere buying calendars align. With the support of the fashion industry, we look forward to launching Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia as the world’s first Resort event in May 2016.”
For more information please email Mona Mato, Export Services Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org