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Two Councils Come Together for Fashion and Fiji

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council and the Fiji Fashion Council have established earnest consultations on ways to help take fashion in Fiji to heightened levels of success. The potential of Fiji to service the international fashion market is quite attractive. Fiji naturally possesses many of the successful attributes that international Fashion designers and retailers require from the production side of their industry.

Kalpesh Solanki, TCF Council President assesses both the opportunity and the challenge quite succinctly. He notes, “There are definitely synergies between the textile clothing & footwear industry and the fashion design industry. The main objective of the TCF Council is to work in the interests of the manufacturers of TCF goods. The fashion industry, on the other hand, involves mainly individual designers and small fashion houses at this stage in Fiji. Now that there is a Fashion Council of Fiji established, the TCF Council is keen to engage in discussions with them to explore how both Councils can work together.”

In order for this type of activity to arrive on our shores in larger numbers, there are certain areas of concern where Fiji must create assurances with overseas alliance partners in terms of both production and sustainability. Solanki opens up about exactly what those issues are and what this sector will demand out of Fiji. He elaborated, “Fiji certainly has very creative people and in particular the younger generation who are looking to get into fashion design. However, it is important that they have the opportunities for training, skills development and ultimately the option of either joining a company or starting their own. On this note, the TCF Council recognizes that since fashion design is a developing sector, it will require assistance and the Council stands ready to work with Fashion Council of Fiji.”

Once this process has gained traction, the outlook is quite promising. It can bring significant new levels of revenue back into the country from a long established Fiji industry tapping into a predominantly new arena. The TCF industry in Fiji once employed more than 20,000 workers. It is now down to a very stable 4,500 but could grow solidly if Fiji makes a name for itself in this always relevant market sector.

Mr. Solanki remarked on the potential of local designers to find an international outlet for their skills when he says, “There is an excellent scope for developing a pool of talented Fijian designers who excel in the fashion field both locally and regionally. They may face challenges in terms of getting raw materials for and sewing of their fashion ranges, but those can be addressed. Hence, the outlook for boutique fashion with a unique “Fiji” flair is certainly good.”

Manufacturing fashion clothing and footwear on larger scale will take bit longer to develop than expanding traditional markets currently already serviced. However new fashion markets do bring potential significant rewards. For this to happen within the fashion sector, Fiji will require important issues to be addressed such as raw material supply chain management improvements and an up skilling of its workforce.

As fashion changes rapidly, the ability of factories to adapt to these changes will be critical to success. The ability to source new raw materials that the fashion market needs and wants is also of paramount importance. Solanki concluded by summing up the agenda moving forward. He said, “As we all know, training and up skilling of people takes time, money, and lot of concerted effort. This is something that TCF Council will be consulting its members for a way forward.”

A noble cause indeed and one that Fiji is fueled to take on far more aggressively in the upcoming years.


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Posted on: July 2 at 5:57 am
 
TCF Gives Fashion Design the Green Light

TCF of Fiji has begun to sow the seeds for another path forward; fashion.  Looking to tap into the enormous well of Fijian creativity and the unique South Pacific flair that comes with it, new and unabridged talents have begun to surface and make waves in the local clothing and footwear industry.  With an eye to the big picture of developing a serious international market, both in terms of design and particularly in terms of production and support, the TCF Council of Fiji fully supports the new trends of Fiji’s youthful industry trendsetters have adapted to fashion designing.

President, Kalpesh Solanki says the industry acknowledges designing as a new entry way into the world of high fashion which presents a realm of possibilities for the industry’s most creative and entrepreneurial-minded individuals.  He also stated that TCF council is the face for initiating talks between the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as well as the Fiji National University, to consider proposing fashion design courses in concurrence with fashion schools already established overseas.  There are splendid backgrounds for enriching talented young designers, but currently in Fiji, they still may confront severities in the ability to acquire raw materials and specialized sewing talents for their fashion ranges.  Nonetheless, this can be improved.

“There are definitely synergies between the textile clothing & footwear industry and the fashion design industry. The main objective of the TCF Council is to work in the interests of the manufacturers of TCF goods.” Mr. Solanki continued, “…and to assist the younger generation fashion designers in training, skills development and ultimately providing them the opportunity of joining a company or starting their own.”

“TCF Council recognizes that since fashion design is a developing sector, it will require assistance and the Council stands ready to work with Fashion Council of Fiji”

Although TCF is considered as one of the major earners of foreign exchange, grossing in close to $100M annually, the council is still focusing on looking at other local areas which they could expand apart from traditional exports.  Mr. Solanki pronounced that TCF council has worked consistently with the Fijian Government to encourage Fijian made clothing and footwear within Fiji.  Adding to Mr. Solanki’s affirmation, Attorney General Aiyaz Saiyad Khaiyum emphasised for people to work in concert in order to accomplish goals that make real impact for major sectors of the population.

“It goes to show that in order to move into this niche market, we all have to collaborate.  We need a collaborative effort – employers with their employees, with Government, development partners and stakeholders to ensure not just profitability but longevity,“Mr. Khaiyum said.

Fashion changes such as the mood, the ability to adapt to these ‘moods’ is a critical element to success, as well as the power to harness raw materials fit for the fashion market. The major issue is with ‘up -skilling’ and training people so they can deliver an upgrade of commercial value as well as advocate unified efforts.


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Posted on: June 15 at 1:11 am
 
Mark Halabe Interviewed by Fashion Source

Acting as a spokesman on behalf of the TCF Council of Fiji, Board member Mark Halabe was interviewed on the current state of Fiji’s garment manufacturing industry as well probed for some insightful dialogue as to the opportunity that currently is availed to Fiji’s dedicated manufacturers.

Mr. Halabe spoke of the small runs specialty of Fiji and of some of the consistent problems that many Australian importers are facing with Chinese sources. It’s very swaying and it clearly bodes well for Fiji to take advantage of some exceptionally prominent niches where service and quality clearly override cost savings on bulk purchases.

He also delved into the harmonious nature of the TCF Council and that the diversity and common agendas have helped develop a unified consortium where the sharing of information is the operative modality. The article and his interview can can be read in its entirety here.


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Posted on: December 20 at 7:33 pm
 
Fashion Designing; a Future Pathway for Fiji

Currently, there is limited fashion designing and fashion–based manufacturing in Fiji. If Mark Halabe, owners of Mark One Apparel has his way, this will change dramatically over the next decade. Mark One Apparel manufactures predominantly corporate attire. For Mr. Halabe, who sees the fashion industry as a vibrant and growing opportunity where he feels Mark One and other Fiji clothing manufacturers are uniquely positioned to support, it’s an opportunity worth investing in.

This type of move could result in massive changes to the industry. It could mean an opportunity to promote entire lines of fashionable clothes from Fiji and more importantly, local fashion designers. In order to make this change the company is in the process of retooling and re-engineering some production lines to be even more ‘Fashion-friendly’. Mr. Halabe has joined in alliance with Ellen Whippy, overseer of the successful Fiji Fashion Week and with Mr. Rob Cromb, a fashion designer from Australia, to initiate the production of trendy women’s fashion from his company as well.

Mr. Halabe also thinks that sourcing qualified lecturers to teach and train local fashion designers here in Fiji will be a major mile stone and is working towards this goal. This will provide locals with high-skilled career option here in Fiji and additionally will serve as a launch pad of recognition for these people both here in Fiji and internationally. The major support will come through programmes offered in conjunction with the Fiji National University and the Training Productivity Authority of Fiji (TPAF).

The ‘future’ of ‘fashion’ in ‘Fiji’ looks to be ‘Fiji Fantastic’!!!


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Posted on: October 27 at 3:36 am
 
Retailing in Fiji – A Market Unto Itself

If you see workers come by regularly on their off hours and eat in the restaurant where they work, you know they serve good food and it’s certainly hygienic. In the same light, many of the major clothing manufacturers in the TCF Council have outlets here in Fiji where they sell clothing especially designed and produced for the local markets. And you can bet that their own workers are lining up to purchase items there as well.

Ranjit Garments distributes a great deal of locally sold garments through its RG Direct Stores. United Apparel has its Casanova retail outlet located right on the manufacturing facility premises. Intimate Apparel sells through its Vua-La chain and Jack’s Garments is a major supplier to one of the nation’s most prominent retailers, its very own sister company, Jack’s of Fiji.

All of these manufacturers see Fiji’s market as an important adjunct to their business. These are not seconds and overruns; these are quality clothing options for a specific Pacific Island market. So if you find yourself in Fiji and you need a great suit, Bula shirt, intimate knick knack for yourself or a special lady, or solid work clothing, contact the TCF Council and we’ll help you load up on what you need to look the part in these parts.


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Posted on: October 15 at 9:31 am
 

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