Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Meet Alesana Pereira, owner and founder of clothing brand Spirit and Sin and proud Samoan living in Toronto Canada. Pereira recently dropped his latest collection for his brand which features hints of his culture.
Spirit and Sin is three years in the making, establishing a dream that Pereira had in mind since high school. Having had an interest in clothing and fashion from a young age, the 30 year old decided to put his dream into reality.
“Yeah I was always one of those “fia skuxx” and wear all the mean gear on mufti day in school” Pereira said.
“A big part of it too was my dad. I remember him from a young age and he was telling me about Kashmir and I had no idea what that was. So yeah he was a big influence on me being involved with clothing and fashion”.
Pereira recently dropped the latest collection via Spirit and Sin website which pays tribute to his Samoan cultural upbringing.
The collection features two shirt & short pieces that embodies Samoan patterns and designs. These two separate pieces are the vasa (ocean) and the anufe (earthworm) shirt and shorts
The patterns drew inspiration from the work of Samoan tattooist Sean Mellon when Pereira stumbled through his work in one of his books.
Through his work in fashion and the clothing industry, Pereira admits that although he is three years deep in the fashion world, he still has more to achieve.
“You know growing up and identifying as Samoan and palagi, I never wondered if I was capable of playing rugby. Because I would see heaps of pacific and polynesian athletes playing it” Pereira stated.
“I never really saw people like myself in creative fields like fashion.It’s been three years now, and I still am learning through it all. I have no formal training or anything like that”.
Whilst voyaging in his entrepreneurial pathway, the obsession of creating timely fashion pieces became a way to connect with his Samoan cultural roots.
With his latest collection honouring these roots, Pereira believes that his Samoan inspired drop has been a timely personal reminder of him in connecting on the Samoan values he was brought up in.
“We weren’t raised like super fa’asamoa stuff, but we were taught through the simple values of it at home by dad. Growing up afakasi (half cast) you’re not too white to be palagi or you are not too brown to be Samoan” he said.
“Part of this process and journey with my brand that I have really enjoyed is that I have managed to get a good understanding of Samoan culture, history and all that other stuff”.
“I really do believe that through my work on these collections, it gives a sense of belonging to who and what I am as a person”.
Being away from family and close friends has been a challenge for Pereira and his small family. After recently welcoming a newborn nine months ago, a lot of his focus has gone into his personal commitments including providing for his family.
Through all these challenges however, Pereira is thankful and blessed for all the love and support he has received over the years.
“Through the challenges there have been some memorable moments or as I would say highlights for me. There have been a couple of big time NBA players who have purchased and worn my first few stuff I had released which is cool”.
“That kind of stuff gets me motivation to continue pushing through and that hopefully one day I can do this full time”.
For now as Pereira continues with his work on Spirit and Sin, he hopes that his journey and work can inspire other pacific artists and creatives across the globe.
“Start as soon as possible and don’t worry about it being perfect. The earlier you start the earlier you will learn and grow”.
“When at the start of your journey, start small and keep on growing from there. One thing I did wrong was try and make a hundred shirts and ended up not selling heaps. Keep it simple and small and it will flourish in the future”.