Q & A with Aisea Solomone
How old are you and what do you currently do?
I'm 28 and I work as a Research and Product Development Analyst. It’s an interesting field of work and involves a lot of reading.
Where did you go to school? (Tertiary/Primary/Secondary)?
I grew up in Nausori and went to Dilkusha Boys school.
I then went on to Lelean(LMS) for 5 years. I then moved on to USP and graduated in 2017.
Why did you apply to the mentorship program?
I've been interested in fashion for many years. I've dedicated a lot of myself to School and to my career.
In January, I decided that this would be the year I pursue my interest in Fashion.
TBH it’s been a good challenge doing something new and exciting. I’ve been juggling work and everything else, but our Saturday classes have always encouraging and really educational.
Tell us about your fashion journey, how you self taught yourself to use autodesk and deconstructed garments?
I was very into fashion and like most, I didn't have much resources. But as a stubborn young creative, I was adamant on trying to make do with whatever was around me. I pushed myself into painting and then moved into other mediums.
I dabbled in printing and with some xray films from a few friends, I cut out my own stencils and customized thrift store clothes with my own prints. My digital work really started when I received a tablet as a gift from my aunt.
The device came with some free sketching apps. The app is called Autodesk sketchbook. It took a while but with a lot of research, I taught myself to use it and began sketching clothes. I've used the app for years now and my portfolio has amassed a few hundred sketches and prints. Keep in mind this was all just on my Phone & Tablet.
Earlier this year, I sat with my sketches and realized that unless I took that next step, they would only ever remain as sketches. This was also the reason why I joined the Mentorship program this year.
Doing some research work and again, working with what I had, I decided to take start looking into garment construction. I looked at some of my old shirts and began to take them apart, taking notes on the individual pieces as I went along.
I then invested in my very first sewing machine with the intention of putting these clothes back together again. Since then I've moved on to simple projects like pillowcases and I'm always looking to challenge myself with complex projects.
This journey has been more of an Adventure. There have been a lot of starts and stops. I think that if are serious about pursuing your passion, then the best time to start is now. If you think you don't have the resources, then set, all good, start with what you do have. There is ALWAYS room to grow.
Tell us about your label what does it mean?
My label is “SINA”
On a personal note, Sina is short for “Siḁnasoha”. This is a play on the Rotuman word for “Evening Star” and “SINA” is a reference to the Rotuman phrase “Sina ne Losa”
Like most, I draw a lot of my inspiration from culture.
Sina ne Losa is a phrase used to refer to the Women from my Village, Losa. This loosely translates to “Sina from Losa”.
They were called Sina, because the women were of Great Beauty and Strength.
Now Losa is playfully known as the Ghost-town because of the myths and legends from there. The other reason is because it’s a ways off of the islands Main road (approx. 2.3 km).
While pursuing my Passion and drawing inspiration from my culture, I wanted something to, remind me where I come from.
I wanted something to remind me of my parents, their heritage and our links back home.
So I decided to weave this into the name of my Label, SINA
What is the name of your collection and what is the story behind it?
This collection is named Li'marä'e.
Li'marä'e is the name for the “Oroi ta” that lies beyond the reef, off my village.
In Rotuman mythology, “Oroi ta” is our term for “Underworld” and translates to “hidden from view”.
Staying true to the playful “Ghost-Town” name for my village, I wanted to take pride in that name and pay tribute to Losa.
To get to Li'marä'e spirits would need to go past the reef, diving down to where it drops off into to the deep.
This ties perfectly to the inspiration for this year’s show “Sauloa”
You are into week 6 now of the mentorship program, tell us 3 key things you've learnt and how do you think that has shaped your collection?
Organization is Key
As a creative, I struggled to keep my mind focused on the task at hand. It was so easy to get lost in many patterns and research on fashion and clothing styles. It was also tricky to balance work with all this. Robert encouraged me to stay organized, keep track of my progress and make the important calls where I needed to.
Hard work comes with the territory.
Being a designer is so much more than just glamorous shows and beautiful garments.
This takes a lot of hard work in the background. There are skilled tailors and printers. I’ve learnt so much on both the creative side as well as the business side of things
Making connections and building relationships.
When looking at the WFJ collective, how our mentors collaborate and our little chats after class. I’ve learnt, more than anything that it’s important to build a relationship with people you trust and to create lasting friendships in the industry. It’s also important to surround yourself with people who are just as passionate about the same things you are. There’s a verse in the Good book that talks about how Iron sharpens Iron, and that’s a lesson I’m still learning and unlearning.
Where do you see your fashion label/journey in 3 years time?
I see myself launching another collection with the Wearing Fiji collective and growing my label and skillset.
I know that success doesn’t happen overnight and that building a brand will take time, but I’m excited for the experience and for the adventure.
Name your local and international fashion designer that influences you and why?
For a Local designer, Samson Lee. I remember the first time I saw a collection of his on the runway, this was the “IKA” that features black purple and blue motifs. I remember thinking those were some of the most beautiful pieces I had ever seen and thinking that one day, I’d like to do something similar. I’ve been following Samson’s collections for many years now.
For an International Designer, Iris van Herpen – a fusion of science and Fashion. (Her show Hypnosis, featured a kinetic sculpture) Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel – I love the work he did for Chanel and their Shows were spectacular (e.g. spring-summer 2019 and 2023, Fall-Winter 2018) I like artists who blur and break the boundaries of conventional fashion.