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Ever heard of Karen Walker? World? Icebreaker? Because they are just some of the New Zealand designer labels making a splash on the world stage with their inimitable style.
The tiny country at the bottom of the globe has a reputation for punching above its weight, and kiwi designers are no different. One example, Wellington’s Rebecca Taylor, has dressed stars such as Ashley Judd and Cameron Diaz since she moved to New York in 1992, and has opened two boutiques in the city.
And New Zealand fashion designers aren’t limited to the ready-to-wear and high fashion scenes either. Icebreaker, designer and manufacturer of merino wool outdoor clothing, sources 80% of its revenue from exports, according to IBM Business Insight. It has developed a reputation for being the high-end clothing of choice for the gear- and outdoor fashion-conscious alike.
New Zealand fashion tends towards a funky, layered look – a reflection of the ‘four seasons in one day’ weather – often incorporating strong cultural themes from the indigenous Maori population and neighboring Pacific Island traditions. Flirty and feminine fashions, produced by designers such as Trelise Cooper and Kate Sylvester, stand alongside the darker, more ‘gothic’ attitudes of Nom’D and the masculine designs of Zambesi.
With an increasing international interest in New Zealand emerging designer shows such as Dunedin Fashion Week, and continuing acclaim for the talent coming out of the country that inspired the creatives on Lord of the Rings, foreign fashionistas can look forward to an ongoing – if small and highly select – presence on runways and in magazines from New Zealand designers.