They included Te Aranui Gallery, Inangaro, Lula Soul, Hineava, Pacific Island Art, Peter Henry, Pacific Weave and Moana Gems.
Four local designers showcased their work, including IneMoana designs, Tauariki Wear, Heihere design and Waka Arts.
Georgina TJ Varu from IneMoana Designs started designing at a young age. She began making sarongs and bed sheets, and then moved into skirts, “and then people just started asking me to make things for them, dresses and anything and everything, it went from there”. She began with hand block prints onto fabric before launching into design. Deciding she did not want to work for someone else, she began working as her own boss.
“I’ve always been more a craftsperson than an artist,” she says. Working from home, she sells her beautiful, bold print designed, fitting garments for commission and online, and says most of her sales go to Australia. This is her second Tropicana event and Georgina is hoping to have her own shop in the near future.
Fiona Matutu of Tauariki Wear has been designing for just six years. “I really like working with my hands, I’m a hands-on person.” Formerly in revenue management, she now works from home, selling her designs online.
“I do the designs myself and completely hand paint the fabric from white, and then have a seamstress help me finish the garments.”
She says she likes to keep her design range uniform. “At the moment I have everything tie died in my range. So it looks like an even line and everything matches.”
Next season she plans to change her designs and technique again. Inspired by Mara Hoffman, she says that she is not into fashion as such. “I like to keep things original.”
Of her striking simple floral designs on plain backgrounds she says, “I like vibrant colours, although I have two ranges tonight, one vibrant and the other more subdued.”
TeWaka Arts’ Annie Wigmore will not sell the dynamic range of garments she has created for the Miss Cook Islands contestants this year, but will put them towards her own wardrobe. She enjoys creating garments for all ages including children’s streetwear and girls’eveningwear. “For this I keep up with the fashions.”
But her adults range is original and she incorporates lace inlay into many of her clothes with midriff styles, culottes and off the shoulder designs. She says she has been interested in design since school, but she has only been designing commercially for three years. Her style has an island theme with a modern spin and she also loves the work other local designers are doing.
Heihere means crown of love in Tahitian, says designer Tuaine Thompson. Having her daughter Heihere gave her the inspiration, for the name and the design business, “and I needed an income, being a stay at home mum. I would make the clothes and sell them at the market, starting just simple”.
Now Tuaine screen prints and tie dyes her fabric.
“I like to see what my friends are wearing as well and incorporate a little modern touch with the island style. I love the bright colours, but then the silver I paint in is not a traditional island colour. I love my styles to enhance the female figure.”
She sells from home and online and makes her clothing to order.
Most of her orders come from local women. “I try to change it up a bit”.