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Monday, March 20, 2023

Fijian fashion designer shares lessons on sustainability

Hupfeld Hoerder designs at the Research Creation Showcase, a collaboration between the University of Western Sydney and the Casula Powerhouse Arts Center

Hupfeld Hoerder is an internationally renowned fashion designer whose desire to make a difference goes far beyond the beautiful garments he creates.

Born and raised in Fiji, the self-taught designer has worked in the fashion industry for over twenty-five years.

Starting a Doctorate in Creative Arts (DCA) at Western Sydney University’s Institute of Culture and Society, she returns to study to explore sustainable solutions to help prepare Fiji’s fashion industry for the future.

“My work integrates the old and the new and promotes a strong sense of cultural theme, identity and heritage that is so important to us in Fiji and the Pacific,” said Hupfeld.

With his designs inspired by fibers and natural resources from the Pacific, his interest in sustainable production led him to apply for the Fashioning Fiji project and scholarship program.

“The environment is a recurring theme in my designs. As is climate change and its detrimental effect on sea level rise,” she said.

“Fiji is at a crossroads where we need to come together and address sustainability as a nation, including in our vibrant and unique fashion industry.”

Hupfeld Hoerder, fashion designer and Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA) student

It is these themes that will be central to Hupfeld’s research, where he will explore sustainable options for materials and assess how they can contribute to a responsible and viable manufacturing industry.

Among recent accolades, his work was recognized at the Pacific Islands Forum with Prime Ministers Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern among leaders from across the region who wore his custom design.

The Fashioning Fiji project, funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council Discovery Project, will bring together academics to focus on the development and growth of the Fijian fashion industry nationally, regionally and globally.

Led by Professor Heather Horst, Director of the Institute for Culture and Society, the project will follow Fijian designers to understand the sites of the broader fashion system, as well as Fiji’s diverse fashion consumers.

“Connecting with Fijian designers like Hupfeld is essential to this project which aims to understand how creative industries can be sustained and supported in relation to Pacific Island nation-states,” said Professor Horst.

The culmination of Hupfeld’s career will culminate in a line of sustainable clothing based on practice and an exegesis that reflects on this process.

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