From Fashion Disaster to Fashion Mogul, Part 1

From fashion disaster to fashion mogul, my experiments with fashion have met with encouraging acceptance by women, despite my personal indifference toward my own personal style. My "image" is that of a typical Samoan nerd - slightly too long hair, goatee, and Wrangler jeans and shirt, and yet - I've sold 4 dresses this week with almost no effort on my part. Does this make me a designer? A fashion mogul? A talented designer? Or just a lucky beginner?

As I have stated before, the Fashion Projects started off as a challenge to take what I "said" should be marketable and turn it into a viable business using my web site as a jumping off point. Well, as it turns out the "jumping off point" is still under development but the market is demonstrably present given the speed with which the designs I have ventured so far have sold. 

The philosophy behind my designs is the preference for hand printed materials using Samoan, Islander, and Polynesian motifs. Samoa and American Samoa have a rich, varied, and highly competitive marketplace for hand printed fabrics and this competition drives the development of a diverse set of patterns and unique motifs. Given my experiences off island and my own practical experience in print and digital/web design, I have applied much of what I've learned of aesthetics to the development of styles and fashion ideas that complement the custom prints.

And it all began with the Samoan "elei" or printed fabrics. Elei is the local art of block printing on fabric, and it is derived from the traditional art of siapo or painting on traditional fabrics derived from the barks of local trees. Samoans rapidly transferred the art of elei from traditional bark fabrics to the cotton and synthetics that are used today, and it is a thriving art form. Elei artists can be found anywhere where there are large communities of Samoans. In April of 2012 - as part of my plan to play with eCommerce applications, my girlfriend and I sponsored her sister to come to American Samoa to showcase her elei as a supplier of my own online shop. It was a successful event and I took what I learned and started buying and selling elei.

It wasn't long before I was back to "suggesting" that there were other niches with larger margins and higher potential. Skeptical - others were - of my genius. I barely get my feet wet in the business and I'm there telling them to do something different. What kind of megalomaniac must I be? Well, as it turns out I'm not much of a genius. MENA and others beat me to the punch by a couple of years. The market for modern, trendy, and sexy was already there and it was owned by brands like MENA. Well the barrier to entrance into the market was the materials. Goodbye poplin. Goodbye synthetic linen. Goodbye non-stretch. Hello stretch.

(To be continued in Part 2...)