3 Reasons We're Excited About New Zealand Fashion Week

New Zealand Fashion Week kicks off tomorrow and there are more than a few reasons to be excited. Over the past couple of years, New Zealand fashion has gone from strength to strength, producing some of the most inspiring new designers on our radar, including Georgia AliceMaggie Marilyn and Lonely Label. This year we're looking forward to seeing collections from the heavyweights, as well as new and up-and-coming brands. And then of course, there's the street style.

In the lead up to NZFW, our favourite Kiwi girl and INF / Network member Chloe Hill has been in her home country to report back on the best style bits for us. Last week, she sat down with some of her favourite designers at their studios across Wellington and Auckland for a sneak peek of the collections. Hill spoke to Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart from Twenty Seven Names who will be opening NZFW on Tuesday morning, Rachel Mills who is showing for her second time, and newcomers Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper of Harris Tapper, who are celebrating their first year in business. Read on as Hill interviews each designer to chat through their new designs, their dream It girls, and why they're all so proud to call New Zealand home.

Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart, Twenty Seven Names

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Chloe Hill. Designers Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart shot in Twenty Seven Names Wellington Studio.

 

This is your eleventh year showing at NZFW. Do you still get nervous in the lead up to show day?

Stewart: Oh, yeah! We’re perfectionists.

Easting: I don’t think people realise how much we think about everything—right down to the last detail!

Stewart: But this year we have a really strong message and we just want to have fun and celebrate our community and what we love to do.

You’ve cast an amazing, diverse group of girls for your show this year. Why is inclusivity so important to you?

Stewart: I guess it’s about that community vibe, it comes naturally to us to support women trying to get on their grind here. It’s nice to work together and support each other.

Have you got any dream girls you would love to see wear the collection?

Stewart: I would die if Emma Watson ever wore anything. I really think she’s such a special person, I really love her!

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Chloe Hill. Model Tarsh Orsman wears new collection Twenty Seven Names in the brand's Wellington studio.

It’s so great you’re based in Wellington. What are your favourite things about being here?

Easting: It’s so cool because it’s so small and compact and the lifestyle is amazing. And the government is here so there are so many people around who really care about the country.

New Zealand fashion seems to be gaining heaps of recognition internationally. What do you think about the state of the New Zealand fashion industry as a whole?

Easting: We’re so lucky NZFW exists and we have a platform. And there are so many smaller brands coming up now. Since the GFC there was a bit of a slump in new brands because people were too scared to start businesses, but now there’s a great bunch of newbies coming along.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your brand?

Stewart: We’ve been so lucky because we’ve always been New Zealand made—that’s the cornerstone of our business and it's working in our favour now. Transparency is so important to us and it’s just being able to make conscientious choices. And we feel that’s being valued.

Rachel Mills, Rachel Mills

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Chloe Hill. Designer Rachel Mills shot in her Auckland studio.

Can you give us a run down of the inspiration behind the collection you’re about to show at NZFW?

I haven’t focused on one thing or reference point, I’ve basically tried to develop a series of garments that can do more than one thing. And with that I’ve tried to use fabrics that are environmentally friendly or reclaimed from other brands. So that in itself puts a lot of limitations on it so it’s been about creating something beautiful and wearable out of those things.

Are there any It girls you would love to see this collection on?

I would love for Solange to wear it!

It’s your second year showing at NZFW, are you feeling nervous?

Last year I was crazy busy, working late nights and I didn’t have time to feel nervous. But this time I have everything planned and I actually have time to feel nervous and a bit scared about it, but excited at the same time!

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Chloe Hill. Model Diansa wears Rachel Mills in the brand's Auckland studio.

What’s the best thing about basing your brand from Auckland?

The big thing for me is that my family is here. My mum and my dad are a huge support and they come in and help out when they can. I don’t think I’d be able to do it without them.

What are your hopes for the future of fashion in New Zealand?

I would like people to place thought on the values behind the clothing, rather than buying things that will last only a couple of years, or put in the wash and they fall to pieces.

There’s also starting to be a lack of technical knowledge in the industry. A lot of young people are coming through who would rather work as a buyer, rather than having the skills to actually create and design clothing from nothing. It’s tricky to know where that is going to go.

And what do you think makes New Zealand style so unique?

There are select individuals who are willing to take risks and I think in New Zealand those people to tend to stand out more as there’s not a whole heap of them.

Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper, Harris Tapper

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Chloe Hill. Harris Tapper designers Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper shot in their Auckland studio.

You’re about to hold a breakfast at NZFW to celebrate one year of Harris Tapper. How has your first year been and have there been any big challenges so far?

Harris: It’s gone so quickly and we’ve learnt a lot! We started out wanting to design and drop new styles every single month, but the industry from a buyer's perspective is still buying seasonally. So it’s really hard to stay true to our business model and also still work with buyers who are buying seasonally so we can get into bigger retailers. So what we’ve had to do is have a mix of both. We still release new product every month on our website, but we will sell to retailers on a seasonal basis. That was a big learning curve.

Tapper: Another challenge was that our background is in buying, marketing and PR and although we studied design we haven’t had as much experience on the production side, so that’s a lot of learning for us too. We’ve come so far!

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Chloe Hill. Model Grace wears Harris Tapper in the brand's Auckland studio.

What do you think makes New Zealand style so unique?

Harris: We’re definitely a lot more casual than say Europe or Asia.

Tapper: I think every New Zealander dresses for themselves.

Harris: It’s a lot more understated—New Zealanders won’t follow different trends if they don’t like them!

New Zealand fashion seems to be gaining heaps of recognition internationally. What do you think about the state of the New Zealand fashion industry as a whole?

Harris: New Zealand brands are pushing boundaries and breaking through any glass ceilings that were previously there. But I also think from a brand’s perspective all the designers coming through are supportive of each other—we’re all friends. There’s been a shift and I feel the industry is in a really positive place. We all help each other where we can.

Tapper: Also I think now because of globalisation, New Zealand brands are being recognised on the global stage because they are instantly accessible. It doesn’t geographically matter where brands are based anymore.