WANDERER Issue 1: editorial - LUMINOUS



Designer: LUMAI by Dru Douglas 
Model: Sigrid Yaru 
Imagery, story and styling: Sandhya Dusk Devi Nand 
I first experienced LUMAI when I visited Port Moresby for Stella Magazine’s Stella Runway 2016, the then premier fashion platform in Papua New Guinea. 
Not only did I get to see the incredible traditional artisanal languages of PNG’s biological and cultural diversity, I also got lovingly walloped by my introduction to PNG’s contemporary design and creative excellence.
Since then I have been a passionate champion of Papua New Guinean fashion designers, particularly of LUMAI by DRU DOUGLAS.

Rabaul born, NZ based Andrew (Dru) Douglas creates simple yet detailed structural pieces inspired by PNG culture.

LUMAI is a subtle homage to Papua New Guinean heritage, while also being clever tweaks of modern silhouettes.

The pieces shown here are from Douglas’s second capsule collection called Aurua, which is Kuanua* for the number two (*spoken by the Tolai people).
“I continued the themes from the first collection, ‘Kolos’, which encompassed ideas of comfort and security.
This collection though had an underlying vulnerability and felt a bit more freeing. After releasing the first capsule collection for Lumai (in 2017) I took a year off and had to redefine what success meant for me. I was able to come back to Lumai with clarity and less pressure so I didn’t want to over-think this collection, it came together organically,” says Douglas.
What compels the urge to design?
“Storytelling. I have always loved the idea of being able to communicate ideas and stories through garments. Everything I create has intention and purpose behind it. My creative expression helps honour who I am and how I see myself in the world.”

What is success?
“Success for me is having the resources, space and time to creatively express myself. If people connect with what I do with Lumai then that is an added bonus.

My cultural heritage is inherent to Lumai’s success.”

Dru draws inspiration from the cultural fusion that is the everyday fashion of Papua New Guinea, combining elements of “bilas” (body adornment) traditional cultural dressing, with the Euro style of dressing introduced by Christian missionaries.

The women of Papua New Guinea remained a strong influence, “I was always surrounded by my mother’s family, especially my aunties and cousins. I always remember their laughter but also their strength.”

LUMAI is named after Dru’s Mother’s indigenous name.

Dru calls himself a Phygital Fashion Designer but…“I tend to work with natural fibres, silks, cottons and linens; they’re also my favourites to sew with. “

I try to stick with natural fibres as much as I can and if I do use a synthetic it tends to be deadstock fabric.”
What I have done is simplify my design process by using technology. I now design, draft patterns and develop using software which creates minimal to no waste during the development phase.”
Fashion labels have a responsibility to the planet, the environment and the people to be more responsible with the life-cycle of the garments they create.
Being an autonomous designer means you can make your own rules and not follow the norm of the established fashion cycle. 
At Lumai for example we only make to order, meaning we don’t have stock on hand.
Zero waste and garments that are bespoke…
LUMAI only releases a collection when we have something of value to say.”

FEATURE - Dru Douglas

Dru Douglas at Pacific Runway 2017, Sydney, Australia
Andrew (Dru) Douglas, identifies as Papua New Guinean, specifically from Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, ” which is where I was born and raised. My mother is from Rabuana, Matalau and Pilapila villages in East New Britain; my dad was Anglo-Indian and was born in New Delhi, India but grew up in Tāamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa.”
Like everyone from Rabaul, Dru’s family had to leave and they relocated to Lae.
As Dru’s father was from Auckland, after finishing high school Dru applied for a scholarship to study in New Zealand. He completed a degree in IT at Otago Polytechnic and, after graduating in 2005, he worked in IT in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand for seven years… but the call of design could no longer be ignored so he redirected his focus to fashion. 
In 2010 Dru started to write for the blog mac+mae. As their fashion writer he covered several New Zealand Fashion Weeks, these experiences giving him the clarity and confidence to leave his job in IT to study fashion.
In 2014 Dru graduated with a Bachelor of Design at AUT, which included six months at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute in the Netherlands.
He showed his graduate collection in 2016, at the Stella Runway show in Port Moresby, “It was quite special being able to show the collection in front of family and friends who haven’t seen my work in person until that event.”
Following graduation Dru continued gaining experience in the industry and interned for another Auckland designer, Lucy McIntosh. 
By 2017, he was ready to establish his own label and LUMAI’s first collection ‘Kolos’ debuted in Sydney at Pacific Runway 2017.


Dru’s pieces are layered works of heart, each collection heavy with backstory yet each piece light in feel and clever construction. To match the fusion that his design signature, Dru now utilises his IT background to fine tune his design process.
Utilising 3D rendering software, Dru brings his distinctive designs to life in a form that encourages the viewer to experience them “alongside their domestic, cultural and environmental inspirations… creating a vibrant visual experience at the intersection between fashion, technology and art.”
Dru Douglas at Pacific Runway 2019, Sydney Australia
1.       Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?

Yes. I have always wanted to be a designer since a very early age. My mother used to sew meri blouses when I was a child, so I’d always use her fabric scraps to dress up my dolls (Yup I had barbie dolls – I cried every year for them so my parents finally gave in one year).
My fav TV show was Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN! That was when I discovered Versace (when Gianni was the creative director) and I wanted to grow up to be Gianni.

2.       Time travel: when, where and why?
Rabaul, PNG; pre-twin volcanic eruptions in 1994. I was 10 when it happened, so it all was rather exciting, school got cancelled for the remainder of the year so it felt like a bit of a holiday…..just with a lot volcanic dust, pumice and constant earthquakes.
Years later when I moved to NZ, I finally realised what a huge loss it really was for me.
We lost our home (it got buried), pretty much everything except the clothes on our backs.
I recently went back to Rabaul to where our house once stood and it was just really sad and difficult for me to see what was no longer there. 
3.       What are your best traits?
Hardworking, friendly, empathetic, optimistic, sassy? haha
4.       What colour would you use to describe yourself?
I’m tossing up between a blue and green.
I’ll go with green because I love going on road trips through NZ and when I see the green hills, trees etc I just feel so calm, relaxed and present.
5.       Do you read?  If so, 3 favourites (can be books, newspapers, magazines) and why.
Yes. Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela, A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry, My Walk to Equality – Rashmii Bell, a collection of Women’s writing from PNG.
6.   If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Aigir (traditional dish from Rabaul, PNG)
7.   What is fashion to you?
An expression of oneself at a certain period in time.
8.   Do you have a signature outfit?
Usually a black and white colour palette.
9.   What do you believe in?
Good energy!
10.   What do you want to be remembered for?
Having some sort of impact on the fashion industry in PNG.
11.   What do you wish someone would ask you?
Do you want me to help fund your label?!

Sigrid Yaru. Remember this name.
By day Sigrid is a Business Banking Specialist at Commonwealth Bank Of Australia, and when she’s not helping people fund their dreams, she helps people find their platforms. 
Sigrid is a fearless Champion of Representation, of Visibility, for people of PNG, Melanesia and MultiCulture.
Listen in:

PACIFIC RUNWAY (2012-2022),

the southern hemisphere’s most prestigious platform for fashion creatives was a showcase of design, not ‘just’ of Pacific design but of Pacific origin designers.
Pacific origin designers are not bound by their cultures, they are liberated.
This is what people came to see and discover, what made PACIFIC RUNWAY achieve its iconic status… and some of the most popular all-time designers hail from PNG.

1. IYARA 2016

Winner of the inaugural Stella Runway 2016 Designer of the Year Award, GENEVIEVE IGARA-FALEVAI (the designer and founder of Wantok Clothing PNG) launched the evolution of that winning collection at PACIFIC RUNWAY 2016. 
Relaunched as IYARA, a portmanteau of Igara and Iyaro, the latter being the surname of Genevieve’s design partner, renowned artist Henry Iyaro, the refined and rejuvenated collection took Sydney by storm. IYARA’s fresh prints and feminine, unfussy silhouettes made jaded Aus fashion media sit up and take notice. The first collection has reached iconic status.
The Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea partnered with Stella Magazine and Sydney-based Raffles College of Design and Commerce for the Stella Runway 2016 Designer of the Year Award, supporting Genevieve to participate in training in Sydney, as well as Pacific Runway 2016.


2. LUMAI 2017

After presenting his graduate collection at Stella Runway 2016, DRU DOUGLAS introduced his excellence to the world at PACIFIC RUNWAY 2017.
Dru’s first commercial collection was pure heartwork, silhouettes in luxurious fabrics that echoed Dru’s cultural background yet incorporated 2018 trends, he remains one of the few designers to understand that Pacific Runway was not so much a cultural event as it was a global gateway.
The collection was called ‘Kolos’, the Kuanua / Tolai name for meri blouse. “I wanted to re-interpret and deconstruct the meri blouse, a garment that was introduced by the missionaries in the late 1800s. During my research I came across images of women in the early 1900s wearing a short meri blouse that showed off their midriffs. That style is evident in some of the looks within the capsule.”
Douglas was fascinated by the clothes worn by his mother and aunties. It was the way they styled their clothes, Dru explains, how they tied their laplaps (sarongs) over their bust and around their neck, or wore them with oversized t-shirts. 
“Whenever we went to the beach my aunties would always tie their laplaps over their bust and around their neck which is something that is depicted in some of the more urban pieces of the collection. The colour white at the start and black at the end is symbolic of church and death.”


3. TABU 2018

TABU was founded by Port Moresby based designer TABU PELEI-WARUPI, and she wowed the audience with her gorgeous cohesive collection named ‘Vahoa’, the Motuan word for “sea urchin”, found in abundance at her Boera Village, Central-north of Port Moresby.

Tabu’s designs depict the diversity of PNG’s 800 different cultures.  Fashion being a language, TABU respectfully combines cultural motifs to create a lingua moda!
The beadwork, weaving of raw and natural materials, hand-printe, hand-dyed fabrics and structured silhouettes, fuse and evolve to become a statement of cultural identify in a modern world.


4. KAPILOU 2019

Kapilou is the creation of CATHY CURRY of Papua New Guinea, originally from Manus island, now residing in Brisbane, Australia. In 2014, Curry started a small business called Kapilou Products Pty Ltd, specializing in growing fresh, organic PNG and Pacific Islands food.

Being a multi-skilled woman, Curry is also a dressmaker and she branched out as a designer, launching her first collection in 2017 in Brisbane.  Since then she has also showcased a collection in PNG, again in Brisbane and now is a part of the Pacific Runway legend.
Currey’s PACIFIC RUNWAY 2019 collection, called ‘Summer Sih II’, was a collaboration with Malolo Fabrics, by Jack and Margaret Fenton, whose prints depict traditional motifs from Papua New Guinea and around the Pacific region.
“Designing traditional costumes inspired me to create a vibrant everyday collection that can be worn by the young and the young at heart!”
“I wanted to put the stories of our traditional dances and culture on to fabrics so that they can stay alive, and educate people out side of PNG about our ways, our life, our culture.  I respect my strong PNG culture very much and wanted to show its beauty.”


5. LUMAI 2019

Douglas’s second capsule collection is called Aurua, which is Kuanua* for the number two 
(*spoken by the Tolai people).
“I continued the themes from the first collection, ‘Kolos’, which encompassed ideas of comfort and security.
This collection though had an underlying vulnerability and felt a bit more freeing. After releasing the first capsule collection for Lumai (in 2017) I took a year off and had to redefine what success meant for me. I was able to come back to Lumai with clarity and less pressure so I didn’t want to over-think this collection, it came together organically,” says Douglas.
Please see current editorial featuring AURUA.
(The pandemic put a hard stop on many dreams and hopes. LUMAI should be a global name by now. It is my worry that the world will continue to miss out on important artists and designers because of funding. It’s just money and yet it is the foundation of everything. If you want to help these designers achieve maximum potential please do so. We know how. They are ready. Meet the miracles half way.)


Wed Sep 13 2023

Contemporary PNG Night at The Museum Part 1

The Sydney Wantok Association event (as part of the Night at The Museum series) was organised as a lead-up to Papua New Guinea’s independence day on September 16th and to complement the current Australian Museum exhibition “BILAS: Body Adornment”, (until Oct 2. Please do visit. Stunning imagery).

Please see the current issue of The Stylander and its inaugural supplement WANDERER, dedicated to CONTEMPORARY PAPUA NEW GUINEA. . The evening opened with an easy, smooth performance by singer/musician Gari Guru followed by a beautiful and generous Welcome to Country by Uncle Allan Madden.

There were panels talking about what colonisation means to the urban diaspora of a once colonised People and the paths trailblazers take. There was fashion, there was art and there’s more information in The Stylander.

Close Menu