ONE woman’s dream 15 years ago, to one day see her culture showcased through fashion on an international runway has seen hundreds of Papua New Guineans now entering the industry.
Janet Sios, a woman hailing from the New Ireland, is a local businesswoman. She and her husband own the second largest private hospital in the country.
Apart from that, Janet has her own Frangipani Group of Companies and Hire Cars, but the dream to one day see Papua New Guinea enter the fashion industry was always with her. Five years ago, Janet started putting her plans together and ran the country’s first ever and biggest fashion runway in 2016 with a theme based on the diversity of cultures under her company named PNG Fashion and Design Week Ltd.
In 2017, a second successful fashion runway was held but this time with the theme of climate change, a global issue. Janet started running trainings and workshops as well, to help others find their voice and tell their stories through fashion.
In 2018, PNG Fashion and Design received funding support from AusAid who continue to fund and support Janet’s dream to empower Papua New Guineans through fashion and to one day have Papua New Guinean designs on an international runway.
That year, the theme for the runway was Plus Size. This showed her passion to have her people included. And in 2019, people living with disabilities were including in these trainings as well as she believed everyone had their own unique stories and styles.
This year, the theme is Empowering Youths through Fashion. Her amazing team from the PNG Fashion and Design Week did a virtual launching for this year’s fashion week and successfully completed a 13-day workshop in Port Moresby.
They are now in Milne Bay to run another 13-day workshop and will continue on to Eastern Highlands.
“We are so excited, we want to help empower young men and women through fashion,” Sios said.
“Everyone has their own style of designing, they have a story to tell, and I want to help these young people tell their story through fashion. We also delivered a very successful runway in Kokopo this year and we are hoping to make it an annual event as well,” she said.
But that’s not all, with the Covid-19 restrictions in place, the PNG Fashion and Design Week will be holding a virtual runway this year.
“So we are very excited. Papua New Guinea has a lot of cultures and we want to help showcase our diverse cultures.
“When we first started off, there weren’t many male participants, because they thought fashion is just for women, but gradually the interest has built up and we have more male participants.
“We also have PWDs coming in and taking part, and they are awesome. So we are very excited,” she said.
The PNG Fashion and Design Week trainings and workshops do not only teach people how to become designers, it also offers additional courses on how to brand their products and market them.
Over the years more than 4, 000 Papua New Guineans have benefitted from this programme, with three designers’ designs selected to be showcased overseas.