Life is a balance of disparate influences. No one knows this better than Tahitian designer Raimana Cowan – a business mind turned creative designer, an island boy relocated to the big city. The Parsons grad and brand’s namesake combines continental and Polynesian influences with sumptuous fabrics and tailoring to create pieces that translate across societies. Multicultural moments define his designs supported by expert training under fashion houses like Zac Posen, Naem Khan and Maripol. In this Designer Spotlight, we spoke with Raimana about Tahitian heritage and balancing business and brand.
1. How and why did you start designing?
I started designing when I was six years old. I was inspired by Disney movies. It was not designing for me before, it was a way to entertain myself and I loved it. I kept designing growing up for fun, but never though that one-day I would actually do it as a job. But I truly learned the art of design and proportions while studying at Parsons.
2. What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?
My biggest hurdle building a brand today is to stay focus and disciplined. Fashion is changing and the rules to get products to market are changing as well. It is vital to have a strong business mind, because fashion is first and foremost a business.
3. What do you think about fashion today?
What I love about fashion today is that there are a lot of new talents emerging. Fashion is changing incredibly with social media, creating instant international trends.
4. What is your fashion philosophy?
My fashion philosophy is to stay true to yourself. True beauty is what is in your heart, and it reflects on the outside through what you say, your gestures, your presence, and your gaze. There’s a quote in French from a Tahitian philosopher Maleko that says, “A fatal beauty, when you see her, you lay her down A divine beauty, when you see her you bow.” For me, divinity is owning your beauty, inside and out.
5. Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
I look for inspiration everywhere, especially in architecture. I am also very inspired by my native culture as well, which is Tahiti, French Polynesia. In my culture, the essence of my inspiration is the first exchange between the native Tahitian and the first Europeans that discovered our Islands. I have always been attracted to that special moment, because it is part of my origins. My family genealogy goes back to that moment, where the first navigators fell in love with the native women, creating the Myth of the Vahine. I love to mix the raw femininity and sensuality of the Vahine and imagined how they reacted and adapted to a completely different dress code, that of the civilized European. I like to call this concept “The Noble Savage.”
6. Any tips and tricks of the trade?
Stay true to yourself, Find your style and signature look and keep your head up, moving forward looking at the vision you want for your brand.
View and order Raimana Cowan’s line on his Virtual Studio.