• Wearing Fiji

WF20 Student Designer Cohort

The Wearing Fiji Project began over a conversation about creating spaces where fashion knowledge could be exchanged through a mentorship program. Our goal was to identify potential student designers whether in high school or tertiary education and connect them with a designer in our industry for a month long mentorship program.


Each student submitted a sketch of their design they would potentially bring to life, they are then paired with their mentor designer to go through the process of producing the garment over a month under their guidance. They learn pattern cutting, printing and assessing markets for sale of garments among other technical knowledge key to the fashion industry.


Our six students will produce one garment to make up a capsule collection that will debut on the 5th of September at the Grand Pacific Hotel foyer. The fashion show will be the first to be held in the iconic foyer since it's reopening in 2014.


We are proud to introduce our Wearing Fiji 2020 Student Designer Cohort




APTC Fashion Design student Shane Laboriel Pickering applied to Wearing Fiji Mentoring Program to showcase his designs and skills on the runway and enhance his experience in the fashion industry and quotes Beyonce, Balmain - Oliver Rousting and Versace - Donatella Versace as his style icons.


Shane is being mentored by Hupfeld Hoerder and says the program has broadened his view of the industry. He also believes that Fijian designers have the capacity to be global brands and his goal is to showcase Fijian fashion and culture to the world through his designs.


“The mentorship program has given me an appreciation of those in the fashion world, I've learnt so much within these few weeks from pattern making to sketching with my mentor Hupfeld Hoerder who is a fashion mogul in the Pacific and I'm honored to be his student”



International School Suva student Annie Chu, entered our mentoring program to gain insight into the industry and credits her mentor Temesia Tuicaumia for encouraging her to take the final step.


Annie finds inspiration from style icons such as Lady Gaga and the movie/books Mama Mia, her passion for fashion in influenced by her mother.


“The attraction I get from seeing and feeling beautiful fabrics and clothes really made me want to explore more and be apart of the fashion industry” said Chu. Annie also adds that the mentoring program has given her depth of knowledge on technical processes for garments and the inner workings of producing for a fashion show.

What can you expect of her piece? “Its casual and elegant, a modern interpretation, depending on who’s looking at it”


USP student Ben Matea has been passionate about fashion from a young age and says he has his grandmother to thank for that. Ben has waited a long time for the opportunity to be apart of the fashion industry and is delighted to be mentored by Andrew Powell.


“I was determined to secure a spot for myself in this mentoring program because I knew that this was the perfect platform for young aspiring designers like me to broaden their designing knowledge from experienced designers and also have their break into the Fiji fashion industry”


Ben's late grandmother was a fashionable woman and says she was the reason he took an interest in fashion. "Seeing her dress for certain occasions I started to notice the pattern of clothes and her fashion taste , this made me develop an interest in designing my own fashion ideas"


What can we expect from his piece? “My design will have a two colour combination, something dramatic yet stylishly hot on the upper body and a little splash of island prints”


Talei Tamani, a USP student currently on break says that her talent for sketching is what pushed her to apply for a spot in our mentoring program.


“In year 5 I started doing sketches, little baby sketches like a top and a skirt with flowers and hearts on it and by year 6, 7 & 8 I suddenly knew how to sketch body figures with clothes on it and ever since then I had passion for fashion but never had a chance to bring my sketches to life so I thought why not try out Wearing Fiji” Tamani also adds that the mentoring program developed her technical knowledge from fabric choice for the design to pattern and prints.


“I have learnt a wealth of knowledge from my mentor Robert Verebasaga and would welcome the opportunity to learn from other mentors as well”


What can you expect from her piece? “Understated elegance in a simple gown made to make a woman feel beautiful inside and out”


ISS student Sara Du loves creative arts because of the freedom of expression and limitless possibilities of creating.


Sara draws inspiration from style icons such as Emma Chamberlain and Wisdom Kaye says her passion to explore design pushed her to join the mentoring program.


“I recently started studying fashion design and it’s sparked a lot of interest because it’s so exciting watching my sketch come to life, when I saw the opportunity to be able to learn more about design with a professional mentor I just had to seize it as in Fiji there aren’t many opportunities for the creative arts so I really appreciated this initiative”


Sara says that the program has allowed her to understand the process of bringing a sketch to life.


"I’ve witnessed print making and been introduced to tailors while also being able to identify what would sell in the fashion industry. Realizing consumer demands and modifying sketches to be more versatile, my mentor Samson Lee has taught me how to mix business and fashion which I find very helpful in terms of moving forward with design as a career"


What can we expect from her piece?


“People can expect a touch of the Fijian culture embedded in the unique print designs alongside a hint of vibrant colors to present the diversity of the culture while symbolizing the Kalula Parrot. The design hopes to be able to present a story and replicate the spread of a birds wing beautifully”



USP student Susau Elaisa, applied to the mentorship program to push herself out of her comfort zone and explore a creative industry.


“I love that it allows us to bring our creative imagination to life, it does not judge and has the understanding that even though tastes and style may differ, as long as you love what you create, you’re already on the right track “


Susau also notes that the mentorship program has given her ‘hands on’ experience and a deeper appreciation for the fashion industry.


“From the people who work behind the scenes, such as pattern makers, seamstresses’, models and fashion show coordinators to fabric sourcing, to tweaking the design, to budgeting and more, there are many facets of the industry that makes it work”


What can we expect from her design? “My piece reflects youthfulness and boldness, it pushed me out of my comfort zone to create, my mentor Ash Daunibau encouraged me to create a piece that I wanted to see on the runway and I hope it encourages others to do the same”


Our cohort is one day away from their fashion show and coming to end of their one month mentorship program. Follow our socials to see their final pieces on the runway!


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