Small business: Collaboration - Christine Sharma

Christine Sharma, co-owner of De Vere Textiles which has the RUBY fashion brand, on the need for more collaboration in the NZ fashion industry

Ruby owner Christine Sharma. Photo / Babiche Martens
Ruby owner Christine Sharma. Photo / Babiche Martens

What sort of collaboration would you like to see more of in the NZ fashion industry?

My main focus for collaboration is to keep our New Zealand fashion identity alive not only in here but globally. It is all well and good for the established NZ fashion businesses but for us to build the depth of new layers of young designers coming through, we must take action to develop this strategy with longer term vision.

Where would collaboration help, for instance, in overseas markets?

Collaboration of a collective of New Zealand brands for international markets is imperative for developing an export strategy.

What international shows would you like to attend ideally with others?

There are a variety of international shows to choose from, for example the Capsule show in New York. A presence at New York Fashion Week would be great because of the way it runs its fashion market after the shows. Obviously all brands have their own handwriting but as the NZ wine industry has experienced, taking a collection of product ranges gives strength to the New Zealand offering.

Have you talked to other fashion designers about the possibility of pooling resources to market overseas?

I know a lot of smaller brands would be keen to develop their businesses as New Zealand is such a small market and with the influx of the big international chain stores, the only way to grow is to export.

Have you seen this done in the past with NZ designers? Was it successful?

I think in the 90's there was a Tradenz initiative to the UK (The New Zealand Four). Obviously the world has changed since then. The only way this can succeed is if brands can manufacture ,deliver in a timely manner and continue to do this on an ongoing basis. One season of deliveries does not make a sustainable model for all parties concerned.

Who else needs to be involved for this to get off the ground?

Whether it is a government funded scheme or NZTE supported, I am not sure but I believe there has to be a hand up to support the focused younger brands in New Zealand, to show the support to the industry and all the flow on people employed to keep it alive. There needs to be a person appointed who is accountable to take this on, who is independent but from the fashion industry and basically a great networker with connections and the drive to make it succeed.

If you are a NZ business selling a product, chances are you have been exporting from the beginning. Tell us your stories of how you are reaching your international markets - is it through distributors or on the ground partners or online and direct? Tell us how you make it work for your business.

- NZ Herald

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