Fiji Fashion Week 2023: A Celebration of Solidarity and Unity
Once again, Fiji Fashion Week was a roaring success, with this year’s event a celebration of team culture, beauty and harmony.
The theme of this year’s event was “Solidarity and Unity”, in reflection on the resilience of the Fijian people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Held on the 2nd and 3rd of June at the Vodafone Arena in Suva, Fiji, the event featured 20 designers showcasing their collections, many of which were inspired by the archipelago’s diverse textile traditions.
A major success, the fashion week attracted a large and enthusiastic audience, with the designers putting on stunning shows and the models dazzling in their beautiful creations. The event was also a great opportunity for networking and business development, once again helping to promote the Fijian fashion industry to a wider audience.
The history of the event
Fiji Fashion Week was founded in 2008 by Donna Whippy. The first event was held in Denarau, Fiji, and featured 10 designers. The event exceeded all expectations, and it has been held annually ever since.
The following year the management of the event was transferred to Ellen Whippy-Knight. Under her leadership, the Fiji Fashion Week has grown in stature and become one of the most important fashion events in the South Pacific.
The event has always featured a wide range of designers, from established names to up-and-coming talent, and also showcased a variety of styles, from traditional Fijian designs to international trends.
In recent years, Fiji Fashion Week has become more than just a fashion show. It has also become a platform for promoting the Fijian tourism industry and raising awareness of social issues.
This year’s event
Renowned Fijian designer Rajesh Reddy presented the opening show. The traditional Fijian tapa cloth inspired Reddy’s collection, and it was a stunning display of craftsmanship and artistry.
“Fiji Fashion Week is a celebration of our culture and our people. It is a time for us to come together and show the world what we are capable of.” – Rajesh Reddy, Fijian designer
Other designers over the two days included Samson Lee, Temesia Tuicaumia, Su Samuels, Hupfeld Hoerder, Rosie Emberson Semisi, Laisiasa Davetawalu, Atelaite Daunibau, Jyoti Shandil, Tracey Farrington, Epeli Tuibeqa, indigenous Canadian designer Helen Oro and Daniel Avakian from Australia.
Fiji Fashion Week Director Ellen Whippy-Knight says the show is successful because of the people they meet and the designers that are passionate about their job.
“They always bring in designers from overseas because we do not have a fashion school or a design and arts school in Fiji, which is what we need,” she said.
Whippy-Knight says bringing in other designers shows Fijian designers what they are doing in their own country, not to compete with them, but to understand what other people are doing, helping them to improve their designs.
Focus on sustainability
Importing textiles is becoming more expensive and less feasible, so Fijian designers are turning to locally sourced textiles and recycled materials as more budget and environmentally-friendly options.
A first-timer at the event, Jyoti Shandil, said that her entire collection from last night’s runway was entirely made from local fabrics, and she plans to continue using this approach in the future. Her debut collection celebrated Indian-Fijian culture through authentic Fijian prints and Indian clothing styles.
Designer Hoerder understands that not everyone can afford to travel overseas for fabric, where the supply is often cheaper and more varied.
“Unfortunately, some designers don’t travel,” Hoerder said. “They don’t have enough fabric, so they have to contact retailers here to order it. I do that too.”
Impact of Fashion Week on the Fijian fashion industry
For the past 16 years, Fiji Fashion Week has significantly impacted the Fijian fashion industry. The event has helped to raise the profile of Fijian designers and their work, and it has also helped to attract tourists to the country.
The week contributes to the local economy by creating employment, tourism and career opportunities for networking and business development. Designers have been able to meet with buyers and retailers from around the world, forging new partnerships and business contacts.
As a result of Fiji Fashion Week, the fashion industry in Fiji has grown and matured. There are now more designers working in the country and greater demand for Fijian-made apparel.
Fiji Fashion Week 2023 was a truly memorable event that celebrated the beauty and creativity of Fijian culture. It was a reminder that even in the face of adversity, the Fijian people can come together and create something extraordinary.
We have talked about working in Fiji and our role in the apparel industry there. Fiji ticks many boxes for the garment industry, and immago is right in the middle of it all and has been for the past 25 years, so we’re so proud to see the Fiji Fashion Week grow each year.