Jannike Seiuli is not only a loving wife to her husband Mona Seiuli, and mother of two children; she is the Founder and Director of Fashion Event, Pacific Runway. What started off as a small idea launched at the West Leagues Club in Campbeltown, is now in its third year as the annual Pacific Fashion event at Carriageworks in Sydney.
Jannike is a Maori Samoan woman born in New Zealand and raised in Campbelltown, Sydney. In six years Pacific Runway has grown and sells out every year. It has become an official part of the Carriageworks yearly programming. The only other fashion event held at Carriageworks is the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. What sets Pacific Runway apart is the fact that all creatives involved are from the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
The 2016 census shows that the number of people in Australia claiming Pacific Island heritage (not including Maori) is growing. In 2006 the count was 112,133 and now sits at 206,673, Maori ancestry is a further 128, 430. These numbers still only equate to 0.88% of the Australian population in 2016. Although these percentages and numbers may seem small in the grand scheme of things, there’s still no doubt that this culture is growing throughout Australia and with growth comes innovation.
The idea came to Jannike organically. She knew some hair stylists and designers at the time, had a good relationship with the West Leagues Club and coming from an events background she thought she would “give it a go.” Six years later the event now holds 23 designers and 95 models all from the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
The team consists of Jannike the Director and Founder, her supportive and talented husband Mona Seiuli, Terri Smith; Model Coordinator, Dusk Devi; Official Photographer and Publicist and together they manage 23 designers and 95 models on the day along with the yearly planning that goes into making Pacific Runway happen.
The event now has designers travelling from interstate, Tonga, New Zealand and this year brings their first Designer from the United States. The show is inclusive of the Pacific Islands, Micronesia and the Melanesian Islands which often gets forgotten. This includes creatives from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji.
Throughout the show, there is a distinct cultural element. The designers find ways to integrate traditional cultural dress making techniques and designs with modern twists. Jannike sees designers grow from strength to strength and as business people each year. From shy models with their first time down the runway to going on to work in other shows and fashion events. The show gains international attention with artists such as Parris Goebel and Dinah Jane from 5th Harmony rocking frocks around the world.
The cultural element is essential to Jannike and providing a professional creative platform for her community is her number one priority. After receiving feedback in the past that her format for Pacific Runway wouldn’t work and that she may need to change the casting of it all she decided to take it that one step further. Having all back of house crew, make up artists and hair stylists deriving from the Pacific and New Zealand.
One of the most integral aspects that Jannike holds onto is her humble beginnings and states that she will never forget her values and where it all started. She hopes that the Pacific Runway will continue to grow and each year there will be a new dynamic element. This year, the kid’s runway makes its debut!
If there is ever a time where Jannike may stop working on this platform she hopes to leave it in capable, trustworthy hands.
The importance of Pacific Runway in Australia is more than the stunning fashion walking down that runway. It is a platform of acceptance and inclusion. It embraces a culture that Australia is not too familiar with and allows young creatives to tell their story through their work, designs, styling and the fierce walks down the runway.
Pacific Runway is resistance in its softest form. In a world where we see people of colour pushed to the back particularly in the fashion industry, Jannike and her team provide a stage where they are pushed to the front and given their well-deserved time to shine. We wish the team of Pacific Runway all the best on the big day.
If you would like to watch more on Jannike’s story of Pacific Runway, click below.
Feature image of Jannike Seiuli photographed by Mona Seiuli.