Fashion designer Eric Blanc is gaining international recognition with his debut collection MASIOFO — a stunning array of Tapa-inspired couture inspired by his Samoan heritage.
“I remember refreshing the link to make sure it wasn’t a scam,” he says. “I still wasn’t convinced my pieces were on VOGUE Italia’s website. It took me 48hrs to be convinced.”
The New Zealand-born designer hails from the villages of Saleimoa and Vailoa Palauli and is now based in Brisbane. He created MASIOFO in collaboration with Sofia Moreno Marcos as an identity statement and a means to minimise the gap in the industry regarding high-end Polynesian fashion.
“I wanted the world to know who I was, and I wanted my pieces to reflect my Samoan heritage,” he says.
“I am not the first to use tapa cloth, but I am the first to do it like this, and that is what makes my collection special and unique.”
An official ad campaign for Eric’s collection launched last week featuring all-Polynesian models.
“I wanted to make sure that I incorporate every aspect of the fashion industry into my collection and make sure that it was truly, through in and out Polynesian,” he says.
Naming his collection ‘masiofo’ (the Samoan translation of the word ‘queen’) was a perfect fit, as the models embodied power, strength and poise while flaunting his designs.
“My videographer sent me the final cut, and as I watched, I got emotional and teary. What a feeling to see these beautiful Polynesian models give life to my collection,” Eric says.
“I messaged my videographer back and said, ‘ERIC BLANC “MASIOFO” — that is the name of this collection because that is what I just witnessed – QUEENS!’”
On his road to success, the 30-year-old designer started off as an assistant stylist for Sam Cowley Lupo (aka Sammy Salsa) in Auckland around 2010. He moved to Australia as a solo freelance stylist in 2012 before deciding to take a five-year break from the fashion world.
“The truth is, it was very difficult, and many times I found myself lost, frustrated and unmotivated due to the lack of support, lack of diversity and lack of representation within the fashion industry,” Eric says.
His return to the fashion world in 2018 saw the Samoan designer push himself to enhance his portfolio as a stylist. In 2019, he was approached by Pacific Fashion Media in Hawaii to style a photoshoot that will feature in the Latasi Fashion magazine later this month.
“I wanted to go bigger, and [that] motivated me to create my first collection, MASIOFO,” Eric says.
“My aim is to find a way to commercialise MASIOFO and make it more accessible to a wider market.”
Eric now wants to develop his collection to include sizes from 10 to plus-size as a limited edition, as well as start on a new collection and even hit runways in New Zealand or Australia.
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.