This New Zealand Designer Creates the Suits Your Wardrobe Needs

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Chloe Hill. Designer Wynn Hamlyn backstage at New Zealand Fashion Week. 

New Zealand Fashion Week is off and running as we speak, with spades of local designers showing their new collections in Auckland. While there are a handful of shows we were really excited to see, one that stood out against the jam-packed schedule was Wynn Hamlyn

Wynn Hamlyn's eponymous label was launched in 2014, quickly becoming known for its polished separates. Modern tailoring (think well-cut blazers) and unexpected details (hello, peek-a-boo cut-outs) merged with fine merino knitwear to create an aesthetic that could be seamlessly styled into any wardrobe. And his latest collection is no different. 

In Wynn Hamlyn's NZFW show yesterday, the designer showed more of his signature merino knits, cool denim and plenty of tailoring. The unexpected element came in the form of bright colours, like pink and red, mixed back with khaki and beige.

Our INF / Network member and NZFW correspondent Chloe Hill was on the ground in Auckland to watch the entire show, and she got the chance to interview Hamyln backstage to find out the quirky inspiration behind the new collection. Read on to see why we think Hamlyn is poised for big things, spy the cheeky snaps Hill taken of models backstage, and then shop our favourite pieces below.

Congrats on your beautiful NZFW show! Can you tell us about the collection and what inspired it?

The collection is called Hallucinogene' Behavioural Modification Research. It’s about the CIA experimenting with LSD in the '60s. The clothes look like they could have come from a government department—beige and off-white, red blazers and pant suits. The idea is how the normal and plain can be warped by something hallucinogenic. It has a real '60s feeling of safe, but somewhat off colour, that then twists with psychedelic components in the neon prints and fluro toggle buttons.

You cast such an amazing mix of models in the show. Were there any particular women you had in mind when designing the collection?

The cast is based around friends and mainstays of Wynn Hamlyn and built out from there. Some of the girls have walked in every show. From there it’s just about creating an all around picture of who the Wynn Hamlyn girl is as vast as that may be. She's not one one particular girl at this stage, but many that influence me.

Your brand also seems to work for women of many ages. Is that something you’ve tried to do?

Yeah, that’s so true. No, it’s not something I’ve worked to make happen. It must just be my design style resonates with people from all ages. It’s a very happy coincidence

Are there any key styles you think would be particularly great for Aussie girls?

I think the mini dresses would be amazing for Aussie girls. What I love about Aussie girls is they are not afraid to wear a bold print full of colour.

How did your NZ upbringing shape your brand?

Growing up rurally gave me a strong sense of practicality in the design. I was always making things, and so now when we are designing garments I’m involved in the making, and making sure they are wearable. Things like having a beautiful suit but still being able to move your arms so you can wear it to work. There are always elements in the collections of craft, of still making stuff. This collection has a unique edge stitch on the suiting from an antique machine we found in the garage of one of our makers. Elements like that show the love we have for the craft of making these garments

It’s great to hear Wynn Hamlyn is expanding internationally. How will you design collections to suit both the southern and northern hemisphere when the weather is so drastically different?

Yes, it’s exciting! The feedback from our last market was that the northern hemisphere need more garments that shoppers can buy and wear right away, rather than shopping for seasons ahead. Resort drops in November when Europe and the US is freezing cold. So they need more knit and warmer pieces, even though it’s still resort! That makes it great for us because it makes all the collections very transeasonal and we can sell them in the northern hemisphere and down here in New Zealand and Australia.

Lastly, how are you feeling now your show has wrapped? What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

I’m feeling great. Every year the show and selling period get less stressful. We are working on the next collection and just enjoying it!

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