ANDREW Powell and Lana Smith are each winners of the past two Fiji Fashion Week competitions and this year, they create local fashion history when they join up to enter the competition together.
The two will give the public an idea of what collaboration between two winners look like at their pre-fashion Week Fashion Show to be held at the O'Reilly's Bar tonight. Not giving many details into what their collection will look like or even be named, Miss Smith said fashion followers could expect edginess with a touch of romance from the young pair.
"We're a little behind schedule, but have a timetable in place to get things moving faster," Miss Smith said.
The two designers hope more local women between the ages of 25-40 will consider Made in Fiji garments when they make shopping choices.
"(We design for) The confident, expressive, woman who is comfortable in her own skin and doesn't follow fashion fads!," she said when asked who should come to their shows.
Miss Smith and Mr Powell both studied a two-year course in fashion and design at the now Fiji National University and they have big dreams that the local fashion industry will get the right development and support so artists like them can sustain a livelihood. For the moment they personally work hard all year to raise the necessary funds to facilitate their professions.
"As always, my family and friends have always been supportive of my dream, so very encouraging and motivating. I hope to eventually run my own thriving business, creating and successfully selling my products.
"Artists normally refer to themselves as 'a struggling artist', but your art is your passion, whether it be fashion, furniture design, sculpting or painting —keep the dream alive, the struggle will be worth it if you follow through."
Both designers won the Best Emerging Designer as well as the Overall Designer of the Year award upon entering their first Fashion Week. Lana now enters her third Fashion Week while Andrew, who won last year's competition, enters his second.
"We did a short two-year course in fashion and design after leaving high school, purely because becoming a designer was all we wanted to do, but after a few years, we lost the motivation and began work in regular jobs to support ourselves."
Fiji Fashion Week managing director Ellen Whippy-Knight said young people like the two gave the company the motivation to stage the MHCC FJFW 2013.
"We don't make any money but we don't do this for the money although it is useful when sponsors give us their money to run the shows. But we work so young creative people of this country can access opportunities that people like them easily get overseas," Whippy-Knight said.
"Fiji and the Pacific region as a whole, has within it so many different cultures and ethnicities and this creates such a wealth of inspiration for artists. There is simply no good reason for fashion designers to not create amazing garments which fetch a great price on the world market. We hope that in providing a platform to showcase the art and craft of local people, that other stakeholders will realise the potential growth in our economy and join the bandwagon."