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August 5, 2019 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Reclaiming Style

Fashion is a form of expression. How you dress is a projection of your personality, what you believe in, what you like—and, for most, dependent on ease of comfort. Fashion is also community. Fashion is conscious consuming. Fashion is supporting your mate’s start-up jewellery biz. Fashion is wearing Pacific jewellery, a sei in one ear, an ia faitaga or a tupenu in corporate work spaces—all proud but subtle hints of one’s identity in an everyday manner. We talked to some of our very own Victoria University students about their personal take on fashion. 



Gangsta. Mason is influenced by a range of Polynesian and African American hip hop artists—the latter paved the way for Pacific Islanders to also rep where they come from through the storytelling nature of rap. Special mentions include Poetik, Boo Yah Tribe and “any Hamo rappers tbh”. Unapologetic and big, Mason’s style is reflective of his intentions to embrace the resilient mindset of these artists, many of who grew up in the struggle. His sunglasses or “Locs” are worn to hide his eyes—many are quick to judge his tough exterior.

Mason’s style is Gangster and proud—he encourages younger males in his life to dress how they wish and to never change their identity, even after coming to the university environment.


Pasifika and Fashion. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Fearless but graceful. Everything has a purpose and a meaning, especially in traditional Pacific fashion. And unapologetic—685 to Da oti!



Self proclaimed “old island woman”, Helena acknowledges her parents’ influence on her style. Her dad, the thrifty bargain hunter, taught her to pay respects to the originals. Her mum encouraged the idea that “a little bit of class, goes a long way”. You’ll find this old soul dressing for the things she wants, whilst carrying the style of her parents with her; three confident colours at max, and a collection of West Auckland and Newtown’s best op shop gems.


Pasifika and Fashion. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Reinventing. Bright colours. Prints!! No one does printing like us. We are inventing and have invented colonial pieces and made them so much better! Like the muumuu—I’m a little conflicted because I’m in love with it, but it’s a missionary style dress. Such a staple for older women; no one pulls it off like bigger women. We have claimed it as our own. Reclaiming!



“Whatever I want, and for no one else except for myself.” Every day, William wears what he wants. He is not limited to one specific “style” but instead wears his feelings on his sleeve—using various colours dependent on how he feels. Often sporting some pieces borrowed from his parents’ wardrobe, William is seen in bright and random clothing from his mum and more comfortable attire from his dad. Silver jewellery is a must, as is the attitude of projecting the least expected—not for attention, but for the very valid proclamation that we are unique.  


Pasifika and Fashion. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Tradition. At formal events you will find our people wearing ie, puletasi… Church every Sunday is the place for Pacific fashion and Pacific people. I think with Pacific fashion we are able to extend boundaries outside traditional wear. The first example I ever saw this was when my mum Jacinta Mataia made the costumes for St Peter’s College Samoan group. She used different plants not normally found in the islands, different patterns, and created new things. The tradition of culture can feel like such a box but in reality—there’s so many different ways you can express your culture. 



Tomboyish. Time dependent. And most importantly—often shaped by today’s greatest hip hop artists. Sahara actively avoids trends, often searching for rare items as opposed to buying clothes that other people have. You’ll never see Sahara in a fully feminine outfit—comfort is key and clothes that reflect life. Bright colours and comfy hoodies reflect Sahara’s easygoing nature. 


Pasifika and Fashion. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Pacific fashion is good! It’s needed. I have family involved—Ivana Couture. I think our Pacific patterns are the most identifiable thing in fashion.



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