Local fashion designers are heading to Auckland, New Zealand, this weekend to participate in the Inaugural Skycity Pasifika Parade Fashion show.
Cecilia Keil of Cecilia’s Fashion House, Dane Fabricious of D.M.F. and Natalya Ah Him from Pele Creations, will be showcasing their designs alongside other Pacific fashion designers such as Mena and TAV Pacific.
Speaking to the Weekend Observer, Keil said it’s very important for our local designers to take part in these types of international events to boost Samoa’s fashion industry.
“It’s great to be involved in these events,” Keil said. “The best thing about these events is we create links and get more exposure – that’s the most important thing. The designers get recognised by getting their name out there. It’s great for your portfolio to have all events that you have participated in and have been invited to. It’s all about marketing.”
The parade will take place in the heart of Auckland city and will be a part of the Pasifika Day celebrations in New Zealand.
While the designers do not have to follow any particular theme, Keil will be showcasing garments that are inspired around the theme of climate change. One of her feature dresses, “Drowning Paradise”, tells a story of how rising sea levels affects the smaller islands because of climate change.
“There is no theme, but I’m always trying to promote awareness of climate change and how it’s affecting us with carbon emissions and sea level rise, so some of my collection will be representations of that through colours I see as symbolic of those things.”
Keil believes now is the time for Samoan designers to capitalise on the world’s growing interest in Pacific culture and art by getting more international exposure.
“Yes definitely more interest, particularly Samoa, and we are doing well in everything and you have to strive for the top in the fashion world – just like sports. You have to keep moving up by playing with good teams and it’s the same with designers, you can’t just stay here in Samoa, you’ve got to get out because when you are exposed to that level, you come back thinking you need to do better last time. You can’t go backwards; you have to keep moving forward.”
Keil hopes to build on the connections that she has made at such international fashion events in order to help develop Samoa’s fashion sector.
“It also helps to connect with groups like Sewtech Fashion Academy, which is the school in New Zealand for sewing, and I’ve turned up and asked them for help in doing workshops in Samoa because we are getting orders but we couldn’t supply because we don’t have the manpower here and the professionalism or standard,” she said.
“The level of sewing is very important, when you’re selling overseas. We have a lot of sewers here in Samoa but we need to train and teach them how to do it so we can market and sell overseas. That’s why it’s important that we bring people from overseas to train our people on how to do a finishing, properly like labeling a garment.”
In July, the designer says she hopes to again select some local designers for the Pacific International Runway event to be held mid-year, and she hopes that one day Samoa will become a fashion hub of the Pacific.
“That’s the dream. I want to see Samoa being a fashion hub in the future for the Pacific and we can invite Fiji, cook islands and Tonga, New Zealand and Australia and lots of designers have spoken to me and they want to come and support and participate.”
To attend fashion events is a costly event and while Keil as a partner and representative of Samoa for the Pacific International Runway can take up to five designers to such a big event, the fees can be a barrier.
“Last year, I was invited to participate in New York from Oxford fashion studios.
They have invited us and other designers from the Pacific International Runway to participate during the New York and London and Paris fashion week because they have other fashion shows going on at the same time.
“We thank our sponsors from the public sector and private sector for making it possible for us three designers to make the event and helping us create pathways to overseas markets and get Samoan made designs out there. Without our sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to go to these types of events, the Pacific International Runway costs between AUD $1,500 (T$2,998) and AUD$2,000 (T$3,997) and half price by coming under me.”
The Inaugural Skycity Pasifika Fashion Parade will take place on March 17th in Auckland City.