The Hopes of Mausio

As we soft launched this magazine in Fiji, we are continuing to highlight urban life there, which very much includes the fashion industry.
Although it has existed for over half a century it hasn’t progressed beyond social level with occasional success stories. Fashion is still seen as a frivolous pursuit, a game for the privileged, the real money maker is the garment industry and these are topics for another article. 
The runway is still seen as having ‘made it’.  That the applause at the end is what the goal is.
The preeminent fashion event is just a fashion party and there are far too many events run by people who have personal agendas. 
Not denying these platforms aren’t fabulous.  They’re fun for those who can afford to go to them, the tickets are very expensive! 
Note to organisers, exclusive doesn’t mean expensive. First look at the quality of product and then its presentation. Fiji’s fashion industry suffers from a lack of funding and fundamental understanding about business.
Creativity isn’t the norm necessarily, so there’s much of a muchness. Lots of colour though, lots of pomp and ceremony and not much else. In 50 years of industry, not one designer from Fiji has gone on to achieve international acclaim nor even regional success. An addiction to tradition keeps everyone small and it doesn’t help that foreign interest is not investment, rather, exploitation.  
Some do stand out. literally.  Michael Mausio is very tall, majestic in manner. He is of Rotuman-Tuvaluan descent, an engineer but lest you think fashion is a side hustle for him, it’s one of his four businesses that he runs simultaneously.  This is a man on a mission.
When he first started designing it was to showcase the concerns of climate change.  As he told a local newspaper back in July 2011, “We notice things we wear, so if there was meaning to things we wear then maybe people will be more aware of climate change and its effects on our islands.”
Mausio has been busy since then, a recipient of the Asian Development Bank 30 under 30 Faces of Fiji award; founder of an engineering firm that specialises in energy and construction industries. Oh and he owns a travel agency that focuses on the education and medical sector and… a commercial farm. Small ponds breed multitasking fish. 
In 2018 he established his label, House of Mausio and continued to build a customer base of bespoke clientele and corporate clients. He hasn’t missed showing at Fiji Fashion Week either becoming, rightly so, one of the event’s drawcards. Mausio is one of the few designs who can marry design creativity with that all important fit and finish, with good business practices.  
Mausio opened his eponymous boutique in Suva, Fiji in 2022.  Do not underestimate what a big feat this is. Boutiques used to exist in Fiji 60s-90s but too many coups spoil the shop. I grew up in Suva, I evolved with the sophisticated fashion, music and arts scene of Suva back then but progress needs hope and Fiji has been out of that for a very long time.
‘Island Chic’ is the style classification, what I prefer to call “troppopolitan glam”. Oh we used to dress up way back then so designers designed for us and that’s what designers do, design for the era.  So now the House of Mausio designs for Women of this time and his designs are still very much a showcase of his climate change activism.

Have I mentioned that Michael is also the Chairman of the Fashion Designers Alliance of Fiji? One of the main aims of the Alliance is sustainability.  Sustainability is about the future.

Hope seems to have come back into the country post election, time will tell if that flourishes into progress especially for the fashion industry.  There’s a lot of stitching needed to strengthen the fabric of that society.

The design-geist of the time is not avant garde, it’s not even original and the island prints can sometimes be hard to tell apart but this is a selfish grievance considering fabric choices are limited. Designers don’t necessarily have a style signature so much as a print signature.  Mostly, designers establish a silhouette and provide that in different colour ways and occasionally a different floral print.  It’s not their fault.  People have stopped dressing to stand out.
Which brings us back to Michael Mausio and how personal height may affect one’s outlook.  He designs for people who stand tall and stand the test of time.
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