Fijian born designer Jadeine Whiteside is set to show her inaugural collection ‘Sotiana’ at FJFW15 after successfully completing her degree in Design Technology at Donghua University in Shanghai, China and she is now undertaking her Masters. Sotiana is Jadeine’s second name given to her by her late uncle Sotia Donu.
“Sotia in Fijian means ‘solider or warrior’, a soldier is strong, brave and intimidating, my collection is about empowering women through fashion” said Whiteside.
Whiteside was an inaugural Pacific Island Forum Secretariat Scholarship awardee that reverted to a China Government Scholarship; her Masters is sponsored by the Shanghai Government.
The 24 year old has fashion in her DNA she is 3rd generation of the Whiteside family, she is granddaughter of Cherie and Laurie Whiteside the founders of Fiji’s first fashion house ‘Tiki Togs’.
Tiki Togs was the premiere fashion house and brand of Fiji for 3 decades. This is a fashion campaign shot in the 70's (Pic by Fiji Times)
As a young girl I loved Barbie dolls (and Ken) and enjoyed dressing them up, at around 4 years old my paternal grandmother, Cherie Whiteside, introduced me to the world of Art, teaching me to draw, paint and to use Pastels a very complex medium of colour to master” said Whiteside.
Whiteside’s paternal family were very involved in the fashion design industry in Fiji for 3 decades spanning the 60’s to the 90’s. “They are very artistic and for me being surrounded in a world of colour and fashion at a very young age quite possibly brought out the design instinct in me, I’d like to think it’s in my genes” said Whiteside.
The ex Yat Sen student began her tertiary education at the then FIT now FNU studying Graphic Design. In 2009, her dad, the late Desmond Whiteside, encouraged her to apply for a scholarship to study a Bachelor Degree in Design Technology in China.
“My dad tried to get me to study fashion design instead but I strongly believed that graphic design and computer technology was the way forward at the time, my family fully supported my decision, and encouraged me every single day all the way from Fiji” said Whiteside.
Whiteside was also candid with her views on design believing that design was in everyday things that surrounded us.
“Many people think that design is not important but it is, it is all around us, it’s in packaging, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, stationary, phones, cars, it’s there in every form in our homes, schools and offices, every item has been designed by someone out there” added Whiteside.
But it’s the pull and love of fashion that had the young Fijian coming back to FJFW to show her debut collection. “Fashion is a major industry that is very competitive and evolving, it isn’t easy coming up with fresh untouched ideas that can take off on a runaway and be marketed, so the role of designing something extraordinary that will be worn by people around the world is exciting and poses a challenge for designers around the world” said Whiteside.
Whiteside also said that living in a foreign place away from her family and friends was the hardest but it didn’t take her long to make friends from all over the world, learn the language and adapt to a new lifestyle.
“When I began my degree programme I was the only foreigner in my class and none of my classmates or the teachers spoke English so learning Chinese in the first year was indeed a bonus otherwise I would have been totally ‘lost in translation’, it was extremely hard in the first 1-2 years, but I hung in there, telling myself each day ‘I didn’t come all this way for nothing and I am not giving up’ “said Whiteside.
Jadeine Whiteside (kneeling) with her winning collection at her University Fashion Show in China
The language barrier didn’t stop Whiteside from causing waves at her University when she entered their Fashion Design Contest and won twice in a row. “Not being a Fashion Design student at that time caused a wave of surprise for the Head of the School of Fashion Design and the students whom I was competing against” said Whiteside.
Whiteside graduated with her degree in 2013 and launched her own brand, which is now accessible on her webpage: www.jadeinewhiteside.com.
“Doing my Masters in Fashion Design has opened up doors and contacts to developing and bringing my brand to life. With much optimism, by the time I graduate in 2016 I hope to have investors and will see where I go from there” said Whiteside.
Whiteside also believes that emerging designers have all the inspiration they need in their homeland.
Accessories available at her online shop www.jadeinewhiteside.com
“Fashion is very important in the world today, and Fiji is rich in ethnicity, style, ideas, customs, nature and much more that can be used in your designs so don’t look to the Western world, look within it is all here at our very doorstep” said Whiteside.
Whiteside will be showing on Friday the 29th of May at the Trendsetters Show at the Vodafone Arena.
FJFW tickets are available at the FJFW Office at72 McGregor Rd.