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  • Writer's pictureWearing Fiji

WF21 Mentorship Program

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

The Wearing Fiji mentorship program is the first of it’s kind in Fiji; we look for young aspiring designers and pair them with our mentor designers.

The beginning

Co-founders Samson Lee and Neisau Tuidraki worked together on the Fashion Council of Fiji and saw that there was a need to create spaces for one on one mentorship for our next generation of designers

In 2020 under COVID lockdown they cautiously put out a call for student designers to submit A4 sketches of their designs. 6 sketches were chosen and the student designers were paired with their mentors and they underwent a 2-week program to produce one piece each to open our inaugural show in the foyer of the Grand Pacific Hotel.

Program growth

The 2021 Wearing Fiji mentorship program has doubled its mentees in the two years it’s been running. When the calls for applications went out we had over 100 applications, from that 100 we cut it down to 12 student designers.

Paradise Beverages along with private supporters came on board to help us with implementing our program. This financial support helped us purchase material and pay for seamstresses to help bring our student designers visions to life.

The mentorship program also expanded to 10 weeks with a curriculum developed by our mentor designer Robert Verebasaga, one of Fiji's first designers to be awarded an Australian Government scholarship to study fashion Fashion Design & Technology at RMIT. Our program was also co-taught by mentor designer Andrew Powell who has a Diploma of Fashion Design and Technology from Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE and a Diploma of Business from Canterbury Technical Institute.

The program also included classes with mentors Samson Lee and Temesia Tuicaumia on social media marketing and developing brands.

The task

This year to expand the program and student designer experience we set a task for each student to design and bring to life 3 pieces each for the show. From this task we will determine a winner.

Mystery Fabric - In week 8 each student randomly picked a wrapped parcel, which contained their fabric (a blind pick).

Theme: Tropical Chaos - Students were encouraged to take creative license to interpret the theme however they wanted.

• Each student must produce 3 pieces for the wider capsule collection.

• No embellishments, students cannot add extra material and print on material provided

• Styling must include traditional/natural accessories as well as modern accessories (e.g sunglasses, necklaces, belts)


Our judges this year were Robert Kennedy, Carolyn Ah Koy, Fololeni Curr and Joe Grey.

All mentors are not involved with this portion of the program.

There were two parts to our judging, ‘On the rack’ which took place the day before at the Wearing Fiji boutique. This was a blind judging, all the student designers were numbered only 1-12. The judges had not idea who the mentors/mentees were.

Joe Grey during day 1 of Judging

This portion of judging looked at the quality of garments and the detail and whether they adhered to the task parameters.

The second judging took place on the night on of the show on the runway. Our judges looked at accessories and how the garments fit on the models.

Scores for both judgings are added to determine the winner.

Our winning student designer Sara Du was announced on the night, Sara was in our initial program and re applied for the second year.

The next phase of our mentorship program is take our top 3 students Sara Du, Maureen Mortel and Litiana Vere and help them develop their brands to stock at the Wearing Fiji boutique.

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