Cook Islander (Aitutaki & Mangaia) Fashion and Textiles
Postcards Unlocked #9
My name is Sheena but my close family and friends call me Sheenz, ironically ‘Sheenz’ is also the name of my clothing brand.
I started Sheenz accidently because I wanted to participate in a local fashion show called Pacific Fusion run by Nora Swann and her team. I needed a brand name quickly and a friend of mine suggested Sheenz because I only had a short time to decide I ran with it and here I am. My husband and I live in east Auckland with our 3 children and family plays a huge part in my creative process. I’m inspired by experiences, my Cook Island culture and stories. My art practice consists of group exhibitions, runway shows, business collaborations and business in general.
In 2018 I participated in my first international show Pacific Runway, Sydney Australia. Last year I had the opportunity to exhibit in a local group exhibition curated by Giles Patterson called Garden of memories and more recently Moana Currents exhibition in Christchurch curated by Doris de Pont & Dan Ahwa.
I think there’s a perception that all Pacific designers create mu’umu’u dresses and aloha shirts and that’s ok if you do. However, there is also a community that don’t, where do we fit in? My aesthetic for example is largely influenced not only by my culture but ‘how’ my culture has adapted into New Zealand society. My past collections are far from traditional Cook Island costumes but large portions are inspired. If I were to describe a look from one of my many collections it would be contemporary.
A large part of my practice and research has been finding a sense of belonging in the fashion industry however moving forward I would love to explore more textile related projects especially with the way our planet is suffering due to unethical and unsustainable practises. Fast fashion has definitely made its mark on our world and our Pacific nations are now reaping the effects.
This pandemic and lock down has given me the opportunity to slow right down and explore what gives me joy and how I continue to operate going forward as a designer and business. I quietly look forward to what the future holds.
Meitaki Maata for this awesome opportunity.