Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa Reveals the Gripping Story & Local Fashion Icon Behind its Uniform
There’s a lot more that goes into the design of a humble resort uniform than expected!
Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa in Samoa recently unveiled new uniforms as part of a wider brand update, and the most interesting thing about the fresh, new garments is the sheer amount of thought, history and respect for local culture that went into their creation.
The team wanted to modernise their look, while doing justice to the Sinalei brand and the unique people and events that inspired its conception. Samoa and Sinalei both have fascinating stories, which are respectfully immortalised in design cues throughout the resort.
The patterns that have been printed on the uniforms are elements taken from the Sinalei logo, each of which symbolise different chapters in the resort’s journey.
For example, the leaf represents the sacred yam that once grew on the land the resort now occupies.
The yam was believed to have special healing properties and was therefore highly valued by the late Samoan king Malietoa, who fed it exclusively to his warriors. So revered and preserved was the vegetable, that the property was given the name ‘Le Ufi Sa’ or ‘the forbidden yam’ and remained uninhabited for centuries until the resort was built.
The skull represents a myth told by the decedents of Maleitoa who believed that upon defeating the Tongan kingdom, the king removed the head of the opposing army’s fiercest warrior.
The Tongan kingdom was one of the longest foreign ruling powers over the Samoan islands and when Maleitoa and his warriors overthrew their army, he wore the skull of a dog as a mask and threw the decapitated head of his adversary into the ocean to symbolise Samoa’s victory.
Upon landing in the water, the ocean parted and gave way to a natural fresh water spring in the middle of the sea, a natural wonder that continues to serve guests of Sinalei as a swimming spot of choice and the source of fresh water for the resort and many villages who rely on it.
Today this watering hole – known as To Sua Ocean Trench – is Samoa’s most popular and photographed attraction, and is a short drive from Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa.
The faceless man on Sinalei’s uniforms represents the sacrifice of Samoan men and women in fighting for the country’s freedom.
The independence of our people is a journey that began with Malietoa and his warriors centuries ago and continued right through until the days of Taisi Olaf Nelson – the grandfather of Tuatagaloa Joe, who was the founder of Sinalei.
Taisi was a renowned merchant who acquired the land as a connection to the South of Upolu in his quest to free Samoa from British rule, a battle he and his political movement, Mau, won in 1962 when Samoa became the first Pacific nation to gain independence.
The fish and waves in Sinalei’s logo and uniform design represent the connection of Samoan people to their surrounding environment.
This element of the branding pays homage to our people’s past; one that was shared by Joe and his late wife Tui, who worked and lived off the ‘Le Ufi Sa’ land – just like their ancestors did – for more than two years before pursuing their dream to build Sinalei.
The uniform itself was designed by Samoa’s most accomplished fashion designer, Cecilia Keil, who is the only Pacific fashion designer to have been invited to New York and London fashion week this year.
The style of the uniform is rooted in pan-Asian heritage and represents our link to South East Asia, a place believed to be the origin of Samoan people. The colours are reflective of the earthy undertones that underpin both the Sinalei brand and the beautiful natural landscape found onsite.