Fash­ion Q&A: Sabi Sohrabi

(suc­cess coach, fash­ion mar­keter, ed­u­ca­tor, men­tor)

mailife - - Contents - By JOHN MITCHELL Photo byJONE LUVENITOGA

CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR­SELF?

I cur­rently work as a suc­cess coach for Lau­re­ate In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­si­ties in Aus­tralia where I help their de­sign­ers make a smooth tran­si­tion from ed­u­ca­tion into in­dus­try, help­ing them with their as­pi­ra­tions and set­ting up their own busi­nesses (among other things). Prior to this I de­vel­oped and man­aged a fash­ion mar­ket­ing de­gree. I was orig­i­nally a de­signer work­ing in Europe and then tran­si­tioned into fash­ion mar­ket­ing and brand­ing. I call my­self a bit of a hy­brid – go­ing from de­signer to mar­keter, to ed­u­ca­tor and now coach. With coach­ing I don’t tell peo­ple what to do. I ask them who are you? Where are you? Where are you go­ing? And then we fig­ure out how to get there. I use the metaphor that de­sign­ers are the driv­ers and I am only the GPS that makes them nav­i­gate the road. What I can of­fer is shar­ing my own experiences, suc­cesses and fail­ures.

YOUR AS­SO­CI­A­TION WITH FI­JIAN FASH­ION?

It’s ex­cit­ing to be part of the Bot­tega Gold Fi­jian Fash­ion Fes­ti­val, to see where Fiji fash­ion goes and where the de­sign­ers are go­ing. Peo­ple seem to have hope, de­sign­ers see op­por­tu­ni­ties and the Fash­ion Coun­cil of Fiji is hope­ful. Ev­ery­one should see this event as a be­gin­ning of a new shift in Fiji’s fash­ion in­dus­try. I’ve seen some pho­tos from back in the ‘80s and ‘90s and fash­ion here is in­cred­i­bly pro­gres­sive, in­cred­i­bly stylish and ex­pres­sive. So fash­ion is def­i­nitely not a new thing to Fiji but it is a pro­gres­sion. It changes and shifts but it’s truly em­bed­ded in your cul­ture. There is a true ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the craft.

WE DON’T HAVE A FASH­ION SCHOOL. HOW IM­POR­TANT IS ED­U­CA­TION FOR THE DE­VEL­OP­MENT OF THE IN­DUS­TRY?

Ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant for any in­dus­try. It de­vel­ops the skills, knowl­edge and ca­pa­bil­i­ties within the in­dus­try. If you are build­ing a fash­ion in­dus­try and you are say­ing we are shift­ing from a man­u­fac­tur­ing fo­cus into a cre­ation space, you must recog­nise the need to also build in­fra­struc­ture to im­prove op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­sign­ers, no mat­ter the level they are at. You have the raw tal­ent in Fiji and ed­u­ca­tion is ab­so­lutely im­por­tant to de­velop that tal­ent.

WE HAVE A LOT OF YOUNG DE­SIGN­ERS. HOW IM­POR­TANT IS MEN­TOR­SHIP FOR FIJI’S MANY YOUNG DE­SIGN­ERS?

It is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant and re­cip­ro­cal in na­ture. It is there for emerg­ing de­sign­ers but it is also for the more es­tab­lished de­sign­ers who want to give back. It al­lows them to stop, re­flect and re­view their own pro­cesses and how these have got­ten them to where they are. It’s im­por­tant to give back and al­low the next gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers to have the knowl­edge to be able to be suc­cess­ful. By sup­port­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers you are not re­ally cre­at­ing more com­pe­ti­tion. Com­pe­ti­tion is healthy for busi­ness and growth and the more you have in terms of play­ers in the de­sign space, the in­dus­try grows and is le­git­imised. Which means you can then get gov­ern­ment sup­port, funding, ex­ter­nal as­sis­tance and me­dia sup­port. I’ve been en­cour­aged by the in­vest­ment and com­mit­ment of time and re­sources of ev­ery­one in­volved in the lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try. There are re­ally in­ter­est­ing ideas com­ing from emerg­ing de­sign­ers that are push­ing the boundaries and are very proud of their cul­ture and his­tory. They also bring their own orig­i­nal ideas and in­ter­nal ex­pres­sions. They are limited some­times by ac­ces­si­bil­ity to re­sources like tex­tiles, print­ing fa­cil­i­ties, which can limit creative ex­pres­sions. There are no lack of ideas and tal­ent in Fiji, but at this point there is a lack of re­sources. I was so pleased to do one on one coach­ing with lo­cal de­sign­ers be­cause it got me to un­der­stand them. My gen­eral ob­ser­va­tion is they have tal­ent, cre­ativ­ity and ideas. You just have to chan­nel that in a for­mat that can pro­duce an out­come. We have been de­sign­ing our tra­di­tional cos­tumes for thou­sands of years. How im­por­tant is pay­ing at­ten­tion to our cul­ture and tra­di­tion? As an ed­u­ca­tor one of the first sub­jects we do is we look at fash­ion his­tory and his­tory in gen­eral. Ef­fec­tive change is made from the point of un­der­stand­ing who you are, where you came from and where you want to go. I had the priv­i­lege to work for an in­ter­na­tional her­itage brand. I was quite young then and I think work­ing for Chanel was an ex­pe­ri­ence for me to un­der­stand how you take el­e­ments of codes, his­tory and cul­ture that has been em­bed­ded in your tra­di­tion and make it still rel­e­vant to­day and de­sir­able by all ages.

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