A Fijian student in China named Jadeine Whiteside is now living the dream of becoming a fashion designer.
She won a bronze prize on Wednesday at a national fashion competition for international students in Shanghai city, China. The competition was the first of its kind in the country and the event had about 40 foreign students from 19 Chinese universities in attendance.
Whiteside has been learning Chinese and studying fashion designing at Donghua University before the competition. She arrived China 7 years ago in pursuit of her dreams.
The 27-year-old designer said the theme of her fashion work is Hanzi, or Chinese characters.
She said that Hanzi would always be part of her life, which is why she decided to display three gowns on which ancient Chinese poems had been printed for the competition. The audience could clearly see the Chinese elements in the dresses she designed.
Inspired by cheongsam, a type of traditional Chinese dress, Whiteside decorated her creations with tassels, Chinese knots and a paper fan. She used the colors black and white to represent yin and yang.
In addition to traditional materials like silk, satin and cotton, she also used a Fijian cloth called Tapa. Whiteside said that Tapa is made from mulberry tree bark, and Fijians wear clothes made from it on special occasions.
“There were contestants from very different countries, showing their designs combining cultural characteristics of our homelands with our life in China,” she said. “It’s a great experience for me.”
With help and support from the university, Whiteside put her designs, with the label “Jadeine Whiteside” or “W” for short, up for sale in a local shop and online.
“Jadeine Whiteside is the first Fijian fashion brand in China,” she said proudly.