Michael Mausio is only 24 years old but he is already well-known in local fashion circles, even sitting on the executive committee of the Fashion Designers Alliance of Fiji. What makes Michael different though is that his garments are designed to ensure our oceans and in particular the mangroves are on the agenda of the urban young.
The designer is Fijian of Rotuman descent with European and iTaukei maternal ancestry, so one could say he grew up with both a love for, and appreciation of the Pacific Ocean. Like most Fijians of Rotuman descent who live in urban Viti Levu, Michael comes from a culture rich and active family, so a lot of his design work has that character background. It is also a source of pride for Michael.
“The collection I will be showing is called Tiri. Tiri is Fijian for mangroves, my collection hopes to grab the attention of the young urban islander on the importance of our mangroves in terms of cultural and environmental wellbeing,” Michael said.
“The mangroves play an important part in our ecosystem of which many of our cultural traditions are associated with.” In most Pacific island communities, mangroves are an important source of food giving a home to various spawning fish species and crustaceans. Mangroves are also important to indigenous communities for medicinal purposes. Many Pacific communities still use mangrove timber as reinforcement for building construction. In terms of fashion, mangroves provide effective and beautiful dye materials for printing.
An urban dwelling islander, Michael is keenly aware of how little his peers know about how essential mangroves are to a balanced ecosystem. “So by highlighting the importance of the mangrove through fashion, I hope to raise awareness in the youth on its significance,” Michael said. “My cultural heritage is one of my biggest inspiration in my creativity, being from a diverse background, I was able to pick out the best aspects of each and try to combine them into a creative form which represents the best of the Pacific.”
“I hope to be exposed to a wider audience and showcase the best of the Pacific internationally to Pacific islanders all over the world.”
He is also a regular feature at the annual Fiji Fashion Week.
“Fiji Fashion Week is a great platform for local designers and has been for the past 8 years. I feel that my designs get better and better through the years and through FJFW setting a benchmark it will definitely improve.”
If you are in Suva tomorrow and wish you to pick up some of his designs, head over to Distill at Flagstaff along the top end of Rewa Street for Essence of the Pacific’s pop up sale. The sale will be from 4pm to 9pm.
For more information visit: www.mausio.com
BY MELODY EBSWORTH