Contemporary Rotuman Artists

Carlos Semisi

From Fijitimes Online (25 January 2009)

League men turn to fashion

by Geraldine Panapasa

Two friends decided to have fun putting designs on T-shirts for the Fiji Fashion Week last month.

Little did they know the experience would be more than just models strutting fancy clothes on the catwalk.

For 24-year old Carlos Semisi and 23-year old William Sanday, being part of the fashion show broadened their knowledge on fashion and designing.

They entered under the Emerging Designers category and showcased their skills in screen printing even though they had very little resources.

William, the more outspoken of the two said their designs were cut out of vanguard sheets and printed onto coloured T-shirts brought from Australia by William.

They designed 12 T-shirts for their collection which was centered on the Pacific way of life.

"The designs are basically everyday wear. People can wear these T-shirts anywhere and the prints are really basic stuff," said Carlos who hails from Motusa in Rotuma.

His mother is Fijian.

"It took us two weeks before the fashion show to complete the designs on the T-shirts. The biggest expense was flying the T-shirts from Australia but it was worth it."

Carlos runs his own landscaping company.

He attended his first years in primary school in New Zealand when his mother was studying there.

He returned to Fiji and continued his primary education at Holy Trinity and secondary school at Marist Brothers High.

"I went to the Fiji Institute of Technology for about a semester and started work at Fletcher Construction," he said.

"At FIT, I studied quantity survey. I was with Fletcher Construction for two years then I went to Lomac Construction and spent about a year there.

"Then I decided to start something small and came out with my own company Gardenscope Landscaping."

The eldest of five in the family, Carlos said joining the fashion week show was something fun to do.

Although designing clothes was far from what he wanted to do in life, Carlos said the experience was an eye-opener.

He also plays rugby league for Traps City Storm where he befriended William who also played in the same team.

"Both of us come up with our concepts and design. We design T-shirts that anyone can wear," he said.

"There were a lot of financial constraints but we had fun at the fashion show and we were happy with the designs we came up with.

"William and I did 12 designs. He came up with half of the designs and I came up with the other half.

"But it was difficult a bit for us and we managed to print 11 T-shirts after a glitch with the last one.

"We used vanguard sheets for our designs and William brought the T-shirts from Australia."

Carlos said William arrived in the country on the week of the fashion show. He said they're planning to continue with their T-shirt prints once they've organised themselves well.

Their brand name Nako is short for the Fijian word na koro meaning the village.

Carlos says the reason they chose the peculiar brand name is because like life in the village, their T-shirts can be worn anywhere to any occasion. A shy William says the experience was enjoyable and overwhelming. Originally from Burerua Village in Tailevu, William was born and bred in Fiji before leaving for Australia. He resides in Brisbane and works as a security guard or club bouncer in Brisbane.

For the two first timers, participating in the fashion show made them realise their artistic and creative talents.

They believe one can only enjoy doing something if their heart is in the right place.

For the dynamic duo, the challenge of venturing out into a scope beyond their profession turned them into confident and independent individuals.

Contemporary Rotuman Artists