A gorgeous bright, pink and black hand printed strapless tiered dress worn by Princess Kate in the Solomon Islands during the 2012 Royal Diamond Jubilee tour that put TAV Pacific on the international radar.
The label owned by Ellena Tavioni based in the Cook Islands recently relocated its Mt Eden, Auckland store to new premises in the busier precincts of Onehunga Mall. The vibrant new place is packed with the various colourful patterned dresses and outfits characteristic of TAV Pacific.
The designs are all created by Ellena with contributions from Vira Tavioni and the team at TAV. All garments are produced in the Cook Islands using 20 local staff who create the hand-printed fabrics and sew the outfits. Prices range from $95 for women’s fashion outfits, men’s shirts and children’s clothes. There are silk and merino hand printed scarves as well as T-shirts and beautiful jewellery.
During Pacific Periscope’s visit several people dropped in seeking outfits. One man walked in and within minutes bought a TAV shirt, happy to find his choice so quickly.
But it’s hard to talk about the new store without referring to the ‘Kate’ dress that has had such a huge impact on the business. A copy of the TAV dress made famous by Princess Kate was tucked in beside the front door racks. A poster of the Princess and Prince William is on the back wall.
TAV Pacific New Zealand Manager Vira Tavioni tells the story that when the Royal couple were touring the Pacific, the dress and a shirt for Prince William was gifted as a welcome gesture to the Pacific by her sister Ellena Tavioni. It was made clear to Ellena that they wouldn’t be interested in wearing the outfits but it didn’t worry Ellena as she was simply practising the usual Pacific culture of gifting and welcoming guests into this part of the world.
The team at TAV including many people from around the Pacific felt proud that a dress and shirt designed, printed and made in the Pacific appealed to the Royal couple. Interestingly, no one talked about Prince William wearing the TAV shirt and the fact that there hasn’t been another occasion where the couple wore the same label together.
The moment Princess Kate was photographed in the dress, it was beamed worldwide and things changed dramatically for TAV Pacific. Instantly, royal followers wanted to know who designed the outfit and where it came from. The media glare was intense.
It was around 7:30 am on a Sunday morning when Ellena got a call to check if she had given a dress to Kate as a certain journalist recognised the TAV design and was looking for confirmation. Ellena just laughed and assumed it was a joke. Out of curiosity she checked the internet and there they were both wearing TAV. Ellena said she suddenly thought perhaps she should’ve made something more special instead of just pulling the garments off the rack. At that point she didn’t realise the impact until Vira phoned her and said, “this is huge you know.”
Ellena and Vira say they will be forever grateful and honoured that the Royal couple wore TAV.
At that time the Pacific islands Trade & Invest Auckland Office worked closely with TAV’s Auckland operations to further enhance its website and online payment systems to cater to the surge in demand.
In two weeks since the store opened things have been better, says Vira Tavioni: More foot traffic, more people and increased daily sales. Vira says she is enjoying the new location in Onehunga. The store will host an official launch and opening in March when Ellena, who lives in the Cook Islands, comes down for the annual Pasifika Festival.
With TAV’s new store, the Onehunga Mall in Auckland has not one but two places where you can buy your Pasifika Friday shirts and garments. The idea behind Pasifika Friday is to invite Aucklanders to celebrate the city’s Pacific-ness by donning island wear to work on Fridays.