New Zealand might be a small country but it's one with large ambitions and a strong sense of community. Both of these points were on showcase last week when the country's fashion industry gathered in Auckland to celebrate New Zealand Fashion Week. While this year's NZFW has come and gone — the valuable lessons it taught us remain. Over five days of runways, presentations, parties and afterparties NZFW showcased that when it comes to responsible fashion it can teach the world a thing or two. Across diversity, environmental responsibility, thinking globally and respecting your community, here are all the lessons we learned from our antipodean pals.
Diverse representation matters on all levels
In the past we declared NZFW paradise for diversity, now, three years on, we can firmly establish that it was no flash in the pan. Whether it’s across agency’s books, or advertising campaigns or on last week’s runways, New Zealand fashion consistently promotes diverse representation. The prominence of diversity suggests that on all levels of the industry there is a united front being presented — one that’s paying dividends.
Over the week we got to see some of i-D’s favourite faces do their thing. Amongst many memorable moments, some highlights included seeing Yohanis in the Huffer show, Manahou walking for Wynn Hamlyn and October stealing the show at Stolen Girlfriends Club. We also have to give a mention to The Others, the Kiwi next-gen talent and street casting agency who, in only their third NZFW, had many of the most exciting new faces come from their books.
Ethical and environmental responsibility
Respect for ethically and environmentally sound practices has always had a place in New Zealand fashion and this year was no exception. Rachel Mills held a stunning presentation that was as considered as the designer's production methods. For her designs Rachel produces locally and uses a combination of organic and deadstock fabrics as a way to minimise waste. Her approach to waste even affected the show's footwear, where models wore shoes sourced from local op shops rather than buying brand new ones to wear only once.
Traditionally most New Zealand designers have first focused their attention on their own market and Australia, but a new generation of Kiwi designers are thinking more globally. Wynn Hamlyn’s well-received midweek show was not a seasonal collection for the southern hemisphere but a Resort 2019 collection recently seen in a Paris showroom. Similarly, Georgia Alice forwent a show this year, instead opting for an intimate dinner party after recent international successes. While some designers might be tempted to let their overseas focus distract them from local happenings, in the New Zealand fashion community the respect for home turf means participating in some way was ensured.
The importance of community
In a country as small as New Zealand, and an industry within it as small as fashion, community is required not just for harmony but for survival. Throughout New Zealand Fashion Week each designer we spoke to was supportive and encouraging of every other. They all understood that for one of them to be successful they all have to be successful together as an industry. It’s a practical yet touching sentiment that in the more chaotic and ruthless corners of fashion can easily be overlooked.
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.