Rise up, local designers urged

By Sarafina Sanerivi ,

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HAPPY TO BE BACK HOME: The Director of the Pacific Runway Fashion and the owner of the Lepou label, Fa’ilepou Peni (on the right) and Fetuao Junior Pritchard (PR Pacific Runway Fashion).

HAPPY TO BE BACK HOME: The Director of the Pacific Runway Fashion and the owner of the Lepou label, Fa’ilepou Peni (on the right) and Fetuao Junior Pritchard (PR Pacific Runway Fashion).

Different people have different talents from God. 

But no matter what it is, they are given to us for a purpose. The choice is up to us to use it.

So believes Samoa’s celebrity fashion designer, Fa’ilepou Peni, who insists “we should utilize our talents from God to the best of our ability.”

The established Pacific Fashion designer, Director of the Pacific Runway Fashion and Owner of the Lepou Label is in Samoa as one of the judges and special guests for the Inaugural Samoa Fashion week.

Fa’ilepou has been in the fashion industry for more than thirty-five years now. And while in Samoa, she is calling out to all the creative designers in Samoa to rise up and pursue their passion for fashion. 

“I call out to our Samoans creative designers. Whether you are in the designing field or the artistic field, whatever it is,” she said.

“I am not challenging you because you are all talented. This is our gift from God. And He did not give it to us so we can just sit. He gave it to us to utilize it and gave it the best of our ability. But the choice is really up to us, whether to sit on it, or actually stand up and utilize it to the best of our abilities.

“If you aspire to become a fashion designer, then go for it. Use God’s gift and make it happen. It happened to me and I know it can happen to anyone else as well.”

Fa’ilepou said she is delighted to be back in Samoa. 

 “One of the things that we know is that Samoa is the home of the ‘elei’ and it has been widely exposed to the international countries such as, America, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom but it was all born from Samoa. 

“Coming here to Samoa is like bringing us back to our roots.”

She also praised the Samoa Art Council and the organizing committee of the Samoa Fashion week for the great initiative. 

“It’s about time we have something like this here in Samoa, representing the local designers and the emerging designers. 

“They are in the right move, and if we really look at it, there is a huge market or percentage in the fashion industry and a lot of people can benefit from this.”

Said Fa’ilepou, there is a massive potential in the fashion industry in Samoa, but little has been done to develop it. 

“Not many people know about some of our Samoan designers and Tongan designers that have actually really made it out there in the world. The sad thing is, this industry has been treated like a close door.”

However, with shows such as this, Fa’ilepou the future for the fashion industry in Samoa and the Pacific will be brighter and better.  

“The Samoa Fashion week provides an opportunity for our designers to showcase their work and talents. This is actually our community a platform and serves as a stepping stone for our local designers to be recognized and exposed to the outside world.”

Fa’ilepou also understands that limited resources available in Samoa can be a challenge. However, she believes that’s where they can step in and help make it better. 

“We know that there are some tools that are not available here, but this is where we can come together as a Pacific Region to develop the fashion industry in Samoa. 

“This is an opportunity for us to see where we can help develop this industry and look at the areas where help is needed so we can step in and help.”

As the director of an international fashion show in Australia, Fa’ilepou said they are trying to build a strong platform for the fashion industry in the Pacific Region. 

 “We find a lot of countries outside of the Pacific are gaining from our cultural identity and our designs. We are trying to build a strong Pacific platform for fashion so that we can be able to showcase to the world that these are our designs and patterns. 

“And we also want to get out of the shadows. We want to get the Pacific out of the shadows. We deserve to get our own light, because we shine brighter than they think we do. And that’s the beauty of the Pacific Runway Fashion. It’s a stepping stone for all the Pacific designers. We want the elite, the best of the best and we’ve done that this year. 

“We’ve got the best from Tonga, some great designers from Fiji, the Cook Islands and we’re here now searching for the best of Samoa and we will take them all to Sydney for the world to see. 

“And we truly believe that if our Pacific stand together and work together to help one another in this industry, outsiders will see us for who we really are. We want our designers to keep competing and to keep growing and better every day.

“We have these workshops and programmes to enhance their skills and knowledge and we want to encourage them to keep doing their best and never give up. 

“And that’s the beauty of this whole fashion week in Samoa. So we want to stand together and work together as a Pacific to showcase the talents and art work of our people.

“When we work together as a Pacific region, the world will stop and notice us.”

Moreover, she also believes that government should also invest in the fashion industry because this industry also attracts a lot of tourists to a country. 

“We also think that our government should develop the industry as well. Because this can be one of the areas where it can attract a lot of tourist to come into the country.

“This is something New Zealand had three or four years ago. When they had the Pasifika Style. When they had that show in New Zealand, a lot of tourist flocked in to New Zealand to see and watch the show. 

And Samoa is capable of that as well. And so as many other islands like Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands and Tonga.”

As one of the judges for Saturday’s show, what is she expecting from the show? 

“I want to see raw talent,” said Fa’ilepou. “Something that we haven’t seen before. I want to see new designs and new ideas put into display on Saturday. 

“I want to see all the designers and their own signature on the elei. You know how we have so many elei in Samoa, but how do we distinguish your work from the other people’s work? 

“I want to see what Samoa has to offer in regards to their own signature. 

“Like for example, you can easily tell a design or pattern from Cecilia’s House, or a design from Peter Tamasese because we’ve seen their work and designs over the years. 

“I want our local designers to find their actual signature as to why they have become fashion designers and their passions about fashion and show it to everyone.”

Finally, her message for the local designers is very simple. 

“If you have passion for fashion, don’t let anything stop you. Whatever is happening around you, whatever happens, just believe in yourself and have faith in yourself and do it. No one can make it happen other than you. Because if you don’t do it, you will always wonder, what if? 

“And I know our people. We have so much pride in all that we do in Samoa. So if we can just drive that pride and turn into passion, you will definitely get to where you want to be. It will happen if you make it happen.

My passion started at a very young age, and never wanted to stop ever since then and I am here because I didn’t let anything stop me. Don’t stop believing and don’t stop trying. Be the best you can be and have faith in yourself.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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