A leading New Zealand fashion designer says Television New Zealand's new casual dress code is the wrong cut for the image-driven industry.

A leaked memo obtained by the Herald on Sunday revealed female reporters at the state broadcaster have been asked to tone down their look and adopt a less glamorous appearance while men have been asked to ditch the ties and roll up shirt sleeves in favour of smart casual attire.

World Fashion house co-owner Francis Hooper today told Newstalk ZB he was surprised a television company, whose core business was image, wanted its news teams to slacken off the fashion stakes.

"For me as a fashion person I already think they've dumbed it down enough," said Mr Hooper.


"During the day their newsreaders don't have neckties and their sports readers and presenters, in many cases, have team jackets so it's a bit, I think, how low can you go?"

The memo specifically called for women to clothe themselves in a utilitarian style of dress with more shirts and trousers with block colours, and banned bare arms.

Male reporters were advised to wear open-necked shirts, sleeves rolled, jackets and chinos or dark dress trousers.

He said while it might be seen to identify with the relaxed New Zealand lifestyle it was important to project a professional image on the screen.

"[In] some cases you're reading the news and it is really serious and the gravity of the moment has to be captured visually as well which is the fact that the guy reading it is wearing a fantastic suit with a tie or the woman reader is dressed very, very sharply. I think there is a time on the six o'clock news you have to dress up."

He said the new direction had overtones of school uniform.

"I think the bare arms - what do the girls wear, onesies - I'm not sure.

"It seems like TVNZ hasn't changed. You're still at school. You're told what to do."

Mr Hooper said New Zealand society was governed by a casual dress code which extended to the corporate world.

The casual Friday had bled through to every day of the working week.

"For me as a fashion person, the way you look and how you present yourself in the world is really important. I wouldn't be in businesses if it wasn't important. All I can say is, if you take your image lightly and you don't dress well and don't project well then you won't do well in business."