Fashion Week subsidy a secret

By Amelia Wade

Cameron Brewer. Photo / Richard Robinson
Cameron Brewer. Photo / Richard Robinson

Auckland Council's tourism arm Ateed has refused to reveal how much ratepayer money has been spent on NZ Fashion Week, amid criticism of public spending on the event.

Ateed said the details of the six-figure sum were confidential so organisers could negotiate commercial deals, but said it expected Fashion Week to return almost $700,000 of new money into Auckland's economy.

Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer said it was time for "transparency and accountability" as to where public money was being spent.

"Our ratepayers' dollars are stretched and we need some greater accountability with the money we hand out. We demand it from everyone else."

On the whole, Mr Brewer said he supported Fashion Week but, "it's probably timely that ratepayers and elected representatives gain a clearer understanding from Ateed as to how and where this money is being spent".

The annual event's future has become increasingly uncertain with big name designers choosing not to return, smaller labels struggling to afford to be involved, and the number of international buyers in attendance dwindling. This year's line-up is one of the smallest since it started more than a decade ago. It is almost an entirely "exclusive" event with most of the shows being private and few opportunities for the public to be involved.

Ateed's acting general manager for Destination, Jennah Wootten, said Fashion Week was one of the 22 successful applications for a portion of this year's major events fund.

The council's tourism arm commissioned research company Covec to forecast economic returns for the event. It predicted $694,935 of new money coming into Auckland and 6080 domestic and international nights' accommodation in the city as a direct result.

"NZFW makes a substantial contribution to the greater regional prosperity of Auckland through the generation of domestic and international visitors, foreign investment and trade for the Auckland region through the various international buyers who attend the event, and the opportunity to showcase Auckland and our fashion industry internationally," she said.

Ms Wooten said all 22 events would be evaluated at the end of the financial year.

Designer and co-founder of the World brand Denise L'Estrange-Corbet said the public deserved to know how much money was being spent on the event. "If it's come from the public's purse, the public have a right to know."

L'Estrange-Corbet, who opted out of Fashion Week this year, said she believed the week was funded by designers paying up to $24,000 to hold shows and sponsorship deals.

"So if they've got all that money coming in and it's still not enough, how is it still viable?"

- NZ Herald

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