Fiji Fashion Week (FFW), the South Pacific’s most glamourous event held annually in Fiji’s capital city of Suva, has grown from strength to strength over the past 10 years. This year from the 22nd to the 27th of May, FFW celebrated one decade of putting the Fiji Islands on the global map of fashion and style.
As an avid fashion follower with a love of all things runway, I remember being incredibly proud when FFW launched in Fiji. I got to attend one of the earliest fashion shows of FFW in December 2009 and it was wonderful meeting the movement’s founder, Ms. Ellen Whippy-Knight.
After soaking up the glamour of the runway shows from the front row, I knew then that Fiji was about to explode in being economically viable through FFW and that it would bring in opportunities for people locally & abroad.
Ellen kicked off FFW’s first of many fashion shows on Denarau Island back in 2008. Due to its success, the show moved to Suva City in 2009, where special guest; Fiji-born & co-founder of Kookai fashion brand, Robert Cromb made an appearance.
Fast-forward 7 years, 11 fashion designers were given the opportunity to showcase their art at the LA Fashion Week in 2015.
By 2016, a few local designers brought their work to Australia, one of them being Robert Kennedy (one of my favourites), who showcased his work at our Pacific Fashion Festival in Brisbane.
Fiji’s fashion industry is currently worth around FJ$100 million. It has provided a platform for those affiliated with the fashion industry to grow such as designers, models, hairdressers, make-up artists, entertainers, performers plus suppliers of goods and services.
Additionally, local textile and manufacturing industries have benefited greatly from this decade long development, as demand for locally made garments begin to rise.
Not to mention the economic benefits to tourism and its affiliated industries such as local accommodation, restaurants and bars.
Many islanders who live abroad regard FFW as the South Pacific Islands’ leading fashion event. One that has provided opportunities for Fiji and its neighbouring countries such as employment, career options and a viable garment industry.
More so, the strength of FFW has inspired other islands in the Pacific region to forge ahead in growing their local fashion industry. These include PNG Fashion Week & Solomon Islands Fashion Week.
For ex-pats like myself who are setting up their own fashion label, who are looking to Fiji for manufacturing partnerships and, ultimately, contribute to its economy, Fiji Fashion Week has provided a platform for this opportunity.
FFW is more than just about fashion. It has opened up the marketplace of Fiji for local opportunities such as employment through a growing garment industry. It has also provided an opening for expats like myself who wish to set up business in Fiji as the economic benefits appear sustainable.
A decade has gone by quick! So a big congratulations to Ellen, her team and the players of FFW on an amazing and successful 10 years.
“They (designers) need to be there for the lifetime, fashion designing is not just fashion and they need to be serious about their work … they want to live their lives making money from their art,” Ellen Whippy-Knight, founder of FFW. Read more here.
Check out Fiji Fashion Week on video: FFW 2014
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog have derived from facts gathered through discussions held with those affiliated with FFW.