A South Auckland street was recently transformed into a runway, showcasing and celebrating clothes created by Pasifika designers.

Last weekend, the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show (PFFS) took place on George St - the main street in South Auckland’s Papatoetoe. 

Seats quickly filled as people rushed to get a glimpse of the models dressed by nine established and emerging fashion designers. 

Re: spoke to five designers to hear about how they incorporate their culture into their creations and what fashion means to them. 

Susana Tasi - s.T 

What does fashion mean to you?

It's a way of living. It's a lifestyle. It doesn't need to define you as a person. Fashion is being yourself [and] depending on the context, it can be whatever you want it to be.

How do you incorporate your culture into your designs?

I incorporate my culture through the fabrics, through being flexible with the garments and making it happen. 

Today, for example, I was missing a prop - a scarf for one of my garments. I went down to Cracker Jacks and grabbed a pillowcase that was bamboo. 

It was $12. I cut it up and boom, I had a scarf. In this environment, you can't afford to break down if you don't have the right stuff.

Vivian Hosking-Aue - House of VA 

I was asked the week prior to PFFS to come on board and I came in from Australia yesterday and started the collection.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is a way of being your authentic self. Expressing that is really important as a human being but also as a Pacific Islander.  

Seeing fashion through our lens as well is always amazing and beautiful because we're just such creative people.

How do you incorporate your culture into your designs? 

My Cook Islands culture and Pacific culture, in general, are really huge influences on everything I do. Especially with choreography, performance, and fashion. 

In my collection, you will see pearls, you will see different tree bark, and you'll see feathers. All-natural elements but we fuse them with western, contemporary fabrics. 

John Tanuvasa - Ohn clothing

What does fashion mean to you?

It’s another vehicle for freedom of speech. So if you’re feeling something that you don't know how to say, you say it through clothing.

How do you incorporate your culture into your designs? 

To be honest, culture is the backend of my design work because the idea is about encouraging Polynesian men in a different way.  

Because there are already heaps of Polynesian designers who do pacific wear, it’s time to add something new to the pot. 

Maggie Anitelea - MAKKE

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion means expression. Fashion is just exposing your creativity. It can be an emotion, it can be cultural, and it could be family. It's expressing - that's all it is for me.

How do you incorporate your culture into your designs? 

So my name is Maggie but my label name is MAKKE. So I've put in the two Ks to represent Kuki Airini, to represent my Cook Island heritage.  

And I do have my own original screen printing so you'll see some of my garments have the Kuki print on them. And also my rau ara earrings which are made from our traditional woven mat back in the islands.

Phillip Heketoa - LIPO. 

What does fashion mean to you? 

You can’t just sum it up in one word. I think fashion is subjective, so for me, as long as you're comfortable in it and you're being your authentic self, enjoy it, enjoy it!

How do you incorporate your culture into your designs?

My designs don't represent my culture visually. I wanted the focus to be on the fact that I am a Niuean, Polynesian designer and that we are capable of creating what anyone else can do. 


More stories:

Lip fillers are becoming more common in NZ. What's the impact?

The rise in popularity also reflects a more chilled out attitude towards cosmetic procedures. 

Inside NZ's pro wrestling scene: 'Step in the ring if you think it's fake'

“We do have some good guys, we do have some bad guys but both feed off the same energy.”

Using social media during a manic episode: two NZers share their experience

Research shows people with bipolar disorder are prone to risk-taking behaviour they later regret.