Yes: The Whiteside, one pretty petticoat example of an all-inclusive universal designer. You may take that in several ways as this Fiji-born meshing-cultures-in-dresses madame ranges from her current homebase Shanghai citylife to the H&M Designer Awards to dressing Miss Fiji. Who, what, where, why and how exactly?
I give you Fresh Fashion Tasty Jadeine Whiteside, in her own words. (I did perhaps fancify the wording once or twice; I simply couldn’t show restraint.)
1.Who are you, where you from, what’s the idea here and who’s it all for? And why on Earth do you choose to do this job?
I’m Jadeine Sotiana Whiteside, 26 years of age, born and raised on the beautiful islands of Fiji; founder and designer of the Jadeine Whiteside brand.
As a young girl my grandmother introduced me to the world of that universal topic called Art, teaching me how to draw, paint and use pastels. When I finished high school I went on to study Graphic Design. My dad in 2009 encouraged me to go study in China, of all places. I ended up getting a Bachelors in Design Technology from Donghua University Shanghai.
During my uni days, I was exposed to all forms of design and in particular held a strong a interest in fashion design. I entered my first fashion competition by taking part in the Donghua University Foreign Students Phoenix Cup, for which I designed a handmade “Fiji White Tapa Gown”. I was up against several other students in my university who were in fact doing a degree in fashion design, but I somehow still managed to take 1st place. [Not too shabby, right?]
This experience really gave me a sumptuous and tasty bite of fashion design and I just knew this was something I would like to do in the future. I then entered the university’s Fashion Design Contest and won the event two years in a row.
I’m currently still doing my Masters in Fashion Design at Donghua University Shanghai, China.
2. My “Triple S” question about your take on design: Do you favor certain sustainable fabrics/ materials (and why)?
Yes, I do and I think sustainable clothing is the future. Sometimes when I’m designing or have special projects, I use a sustainable type of material found in Fiji called Tapa or Masi. Tapa (Masi) is made from the bark of the mulberry tree and then hand-painted using earth dye.
3. Do you prefer one specific silhouette/ style that mostly attracts you?
I love when you can wear clothes that can go from day to night. I design for everyone: Male, female, normal size and plus size [Brazen use of a term proven to be quite tricky nowadays. Then again, I don’t do politics. Or PC].
4. Do you prefer a certain season? [Truth be told, I prefer A/W as it requires more layers and thus more clothing and accessorizing, aka more dress-up fun, options.]
I do prefer to design for warmer climates and seasons. Mainly because I am from the Fiji Islands and we simply don’t have/do “winter”.
5. Where do you get your inspiration (I’ve heard ’em all: From the Marie-Antoinette look to the Yunnan Miao dyeing techniques to communist building styles…) How does your creative/design process kick off? How does your personal background come into play here?
The Fiji Islands is the inspiration for most of my designs. Fiji is still very new to the fashion world. Our culture and heritage take up a very prominent and strong role in our daily lives and this is precisely what I aim to portray in my designs: Introduce this culture, heritage and presence to the world.
I use Ai and coral draw to design and sketch my garments. I also like to design my own textiles and get them printed on fabric. I have designed and printed on silks, scuba material, cotton and satin. I have done a lot of research on traditional Fiji materials and motifs; and when I design my textiles, I like to add all these elements to it.
I started my brand in 2014. The Jadeine Whiteside Brand is the first Fiji Fashion Brand here in China. The brand takes all 333 Fiji Islands into consideration, forging its inspiration, in combination with fashion.
5. What’s your opinion of the Mainland China Fashion scene anno 2015? Any favorites? How do you see this scene (and yourself in it) evolve?
I think there is a lot of opportunity here for designers in general. You can practically design and/or manufacture any product your heart desires/ your mind creates. There is a huge community of foreign designers, particularly in Shanghai.
I have recently kick-started an event in Shanghai called “The Fashion Affair”, which occurs on a monthly basis. The Fashion Affair is a platform for foreign designers to exhibit their works. Whether it be a fashion show, jewelry, bags, dance, body art, etc.
7. 2015: Any highlights? The year 2016: Any big plans — world domination?
I took part in the Fiji Fashion Week this year in May 2015, showcasing my new collection “Sotiana” by Jadeine Whiteside. I was recognized for my work and awarded the title of “top outstanding designer of the year” by designer Nicholas Huxley, which I felt was pretty cool. I also took part in the H&M Designer Awards.
I am also currently working with Miss Fiji, our national rep taking part in the 2015 Miss World competition taking center stage in Sanya, China. I was handed the amazing opportunity to create her Designer Gown for the Top Model category, as well as her Crowning Ceremony evening gown.
For 2016… hmm, my new collection is set to come out! I’m absolutely psyched about that!
There you have it, fashion is one language that crosses all boundaries, both ordinary and imaginary ones, from island in the sun to urban skyscraper-cast shadows. It’s a lithe topic, with a laden message — in a good way. (And that makes me sound universally pompous.)