Epeli Tuibeqa is a savant when it comes to contemporary masi design. Masi cloth has been Epeli’s canvas from the very beginning. With paternal links to Rewa and maternal links to Lomaiviti, he was raised by his grandparents in Tamavua village, Suva. There, the first roots of ‘KuiViti’ were planted. 'KuiViti' in the Naitasiri dialect means ‘Kai Viti’ or Fijian.
Epeli was always seen with a scrapbook sketching designs in high school but it was the Red Cross Fashion Show in 1994 that sparked the interest of Epeli. “I saw a fire and ice gown on the runway and I was crazy about it,” he said.
Epeli then tried to break into the Fiji fashion scene anyway he could so he started by auditioning to model for the ‘Agricultural Show’ a show where new talent came to showcase their contemporary masi designs.
Fast forward to 2011 and he’s scored the job of designing for Miss Hibiscus, Alisi Rabukawaqa at the Miss South Pacific pageant. “I designed for Miss Suva City Council the year before, we won best dressed Miss Hibiscus but I wasn’t recognised enough to go to the Miss South Pacific Pageant”
Epeli worked even harder the following year and proved himself an accomplished stylist and designer and found an advocate in Alisi Rabukawaqa who pushed to have him be her personal stylist and designer to the pageant. The rest they say is history, Alisi went on to win the Miss South Pacific crown.
He has been the stylist and designer to 5 Miss Fiji representatives to the Miss South Pacific pageant. From this, KuiViti took form and was born.
Epeli then made his debut with his maiden collection 'To have and to hold' at Fiji's premiere fashion platform 'Fiji Fashion Week'. Fashion blog Couture Caddy wrote:
"Well Fiji Fashion Week certainly saved the best group of designers till last, KuiViti by Epeli Tuibeqa stole the show with his dramatic designs and talented use of tapa and masi prints. His bridal collection featured a show-stopping Fijian design to rival Rihanna's Met Gala yellow cape!"
But what most people don’t realise is that Epeli is also a dancer at heart. While pursing his passion for fashion he is also a dancer. Epeli started dancing traditional Fijian dance for ‘Kabu Ni Vanua' under the direction of Master Lai Veikoso he then moved to Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices under Peter Espiritu and Igelese Ete and while designing he is also contracted by Lei Entertainers as a contemporary choreographer.
Business Name: KuiViti
Products/Services offered: Clothing and accessories