The 2019 PNG Fashion Festival recently concluded with a series of successful workshops for fashion entrepreneurs in Lae, Kokopo and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Over 250 participants attended the workshops, including 30 people with disabilities. The festival, which was delivered by PNG Fashion Design Week Limited, was designed to promote fashion as an industry that’s inclusive and accessible to all, especially to people living with disabilities.
The Australian government is a major sponsor of the festival. The event aligns with the Australia-PNG Partnership’s goal of developing PNG’s creative and cultural industries to increase the economic participation of women and marginalised groups.
Abt manages Australia’s sponsorship of the fashion festival and manages the contract with the organiser, PNG Fashion Design Week Limited.
Selina Gimbat, 26, was one of 46 participants from Port Moresby, PNG. During the festival, she studied fashion design, sewing, textile printing and business marketing.
Born with a hearing impairment, Selina attended one of the workshops to broaden her skills in order to help build her tailoring business, which she runs from her home in Morata.
“I sew different items to make a living for myself and my husband,” said Selina through a sign language interpreter from the PNG Deaf Association. “We are both living with hearing impairments.”
“Since the beginning of the [festival’s training sessions], 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,” she continued, “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,” Sios said, noting that, through this training, participants—notably mothers and youth—are able “to produce their designs and make a living for themselves.”