Opportunities abound for PNG fashion entrepreneurs


The 2019 PNG Fashion Festival has wrapped up a series of successful workshops in Lae, Kokopo and Port Moresby, training over 250 participants in fashion design, including 30 people with disabilities.

Australia was a major sponsor of the festival, which aims to develop PNG’s creative and cultural industries, and to increase the economic participation of women and marginalised groups. 

Delivered by PNG Fashion and Design Week Limited, this year’s festival focused on ensuring fashion is inclusive and accessible to all, especially people living with disabilities.

The final workshop in Port Moresby was held from 13 to 28 May, with the presentation of certificates on the final day.

Australian Deputy High Commissioner Caitlin Wilson attended the ceremony and commended participants on their successful completion of the training.

“Australia is proud to support the PNG Fashion Festival in nurturing local talent and creativity. We want Papua New Guineans to become empowered through skills-based training, so they can earn a living and become active citizens in their communities,” Ms Wilson said.

Selina Gimbat, 26, was one of 46 graduates of the Port Moresby course, including 12 people with disabilities, who learned skills in fashion design, sewing, textile printing and business marketing.

Selina Gimbat, a hearing-impaired woman who took part in the two-week fashion training in Port Moresby to grow her tailoring business.

Born with a hearing-impairment, she attended the course to widen her skills and to build the tailoring business she runs from her home in Morata.

“I sew different items to make a living for myself and my husband. We are both living with hearing impairments,” said Selina through a sign language interpreter from the PNG Deaf Association.

“Since the beginning of the training I have learned more than just sewing. I have learned about tie-dying, developing designs, printing on fabric and, most of all, sewing using accurate measurements. Usually I would sew using eye measurements and would need to do alterations to get it right.”

“With these new skills, I want to expand my business at home and incorporate weaving and other cultural designs. I am walking away from this training with so much to boost my business and to also help my hearing-impaired peers.”

Janet Sios, founder and manager of PNG Fashion Design Week Limited, said the interest in fashion training from people with disabilities was overwhelming.

“This interest greatly reflects the need for more of this training to be rolled out throughout the country,” Mrs Sios said.

“Participants in Lae and Kokopo kept our trainers on their toes as they had to teach and learn new ways of communicating with people with disabilities. Many of them had come with only basic sewing skills and came away from the training with more than they expected.” 

She thanked the Australian Government for their support, reiterating that through this training “we are able to equip mothers and youths to produce their designs and make a living for themselves.”

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