FIJI'S exceptionally fast-growing fashion industry is now the target of players in the textile and clothing industry.
Not only do local manufacturers pride themselves with their diversity and their capability to touch on most areas of garment manufacturing — anything from heavy duty industrial to highly refined professional clothing.
Fiji's manufacturers have also found its niche — they have elevated the art of short, made-to-order runs to new level.
The Textile Clothing and Footwear (TCF) Council of Fiji describes this new level as "really impressive", saying like China or Bangladesh, the much longer run seen in those two countries "are just as easy to roll out of a factory in Fiji".
TCF president Kalpesh Solanki, in a statement announcing the council's plan to send out a large representation to the upcoming Australia International Sourcing Fair (AISF) in Sydney, said as the original niche market areas were secured, others were expanded.
Recently, he said focus had been set on entering the largest markets of worldwide fashion.
"It makes all the sense in the world that some day, Fiji's propensity for small, high quality runs would meet up with the fashion world's ever unsaturated desire to be unique. That day has arrived," Mr Solanki said.
"It seems that almost every Fiji manufacturer now receives regular enquiries and is developing its own particular skill sets to conform to those admittedly demanding requirements of elite fashion designers," he said.
"That's the type of challenge where both parties win. Spurred on by these developments, the TCF Council of Fiji along with the Fiji government have been active in the training and development of more qualified personnel to handle the particular requisites of premier fashion design worldwide," he added.
Mr Solanki said another positive development in the past year had been the renewal of SPARTECA (South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement) — the preferential trade agreement for Fiji with Australia and NZ.
He said the continuation of this landmark agreement meant those countries would have access to Fiji-made garments at highly competitive prices that rivaled the largest manufacturing countries in the world.
For the delegation to Sydney to attend the AISF scheduled for November 20 to 22 at the Sydney Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, Mr Solanki said the council anticipated a full roll-call of members' attendance to preach the "good word" on why international distributors, buyers and retailers needed to 'Make it in Fiji'.
He said the 'Make it in Fiji' campaign — initiated more than four years ago — had truly energised and helped to define a once reeling industry.
"Emerging from the collaborative effort was an inspired and unified voice promoting Fiji's many competitive advantages that include quality assurance commitments that position Fiji's elite nation status as a garment manufacturer," Mr Solanki said.
"Social accountability has always been a Fiji hallmark as has its long-standing ties with Australian and New Zealand markets that highlight the convenient, accessible and familiar networks long ago established," he said.
"The flexibility of Fiji's manufacturers to provide shorter runs and the English speaking business operations make premier customer service nearly as famous as the Fiji smile," he added.
Some of the operators expected to be at the AISF show are Danam Ltd, Jack's Garments, Mark One Apparel, PFD Fiji Ltd, Ranjit Garments, United Apparel, and Intimate Apparel and Nagsun Apparel.