Fashion: Support our Kiwi brands

By Rosie Dawson-Hewes

Over the past few weeks we've been looking at why it's important to know where your clothes come from and why it's important to buy local. Many New Zealand fashion labels are struggling. With this in mind, it's important we shoppers show our support for local brands by opening our wallets and buying New Zealand-made.

Earlier this month, Christchurch brand MisteR got together with 13 other labels to hold a workshop clearance/pop-up sale.

"It's been a really tough year for all of us in fashion/retail so we're getting everyone together for a big sale to hopefully get rid of some stock and pay the bills," MisteR designer Mickey Lin explains.

But although shopping at pop-up sales is great, the best thing we can do is buy local. It's that simple - check the tag on the item you've picked up and do your research.

Kilt designer Melissa Williams-Lamb is a supporter of New Zealand-made goods.

"New Zealand-made was a choice we made on day one and it's a company value we're still passionate about today.

"We believe it's better for New Zealand and our brand to be made locally and it's something we work hard to promote," she says.

"By designing and manufacturing locally we're more in touch with what New Zealand women want. We know the body shapes we're designing for and creatively we're in tune with what our customers want to wear.

"By checking the label for 'New Zealand-made' you're supporting so much more than the product you're buying."

Maaike designer Emilie Pullar agrees investing in quality New Zealand-made goods is the best thing consumers can do.

"Support the industry here and what New Zealand designers are doing," she says.

"Don't fall into the trap of fast fashion that will last one season - if it doesn't fall apart before then - and invest in good-quality clothes and quality products."

Local on a budget - Under $100

I know it may seem hard to buy local when you have only a few dollars in your pocket, but it doesn't have to be. You just have to be a bit smarter about it.

Op shops are your friend; don't be afraid to haggle. Designer consignment stores (recycled clothing boutiques) are great for high-quality designer goods for less.

Local markets are also great. Nothing beats a woollen beanie or pair of socks lovingly knitted by someone's nana. There's always an abundance of baby and kids gear at markets, too.

You'll also find screen-printed tees and all sorts. And though those tees might have been made in China, at least they were printed here. Plus, you don't know what future fashion superstar you might be supporting. Karen Walker spent years selling her trousers at the markets in Auckland.

If you don't have a local market, is the online equivalent. It has a huge number of local artisans and craftspeople selling their goods at reasonable prices.

Middle of the road - $100 to $350

There are many great Kiwi brands doing the local thing for fairly reasonable prices. Brands such as Kilt, Jean Jones, Taylor, Mardell and some Moochi and Ricochet items are made here.

Wairarapa brand Hall does great classics from natural fabrics in size 8 to 24 (

Ruby and Liam are also produced here, as is Andrea Moore (though that's at the higher end). And that's just a few of the many out there.

Most of these brands have online stores with great returns/customer service policies so you don't have to worry about buying the wrong size.

There are also a great number of up-and-coming brands who pride themselves on being New Zealand-made - many of whom still sew the garments themselves.

Watch out for the Next Generation shows at New Zealand Fashion Week and up-and-coming brands at Wellington Fashion Week. These are often brands that appreciate your support, but whose prices are still reasonable.

And remember, when you buy a good-quality garment, it's not only great for your wardrobe and wallet, it will also make you feel better about wearing it.

Money is no issue

If money is no issue and you're a conscious consumer, you should be buying New Zealand-made every time you shop. There's no excuse not to.

If you can't buy local on your budget, at least check the labels and buy items made in China. China's garment district is regulated, with minimum wages, reasonable working conditions and laws to protect employees. If factories there have more than 35 to 40 employees they're obligated to provide meals and accommodation for their staff (most of whom are from provincial areas and have moved to the city just to work and send money home).

Buying local is the best thing you can do to support our fashion industry. Ruby's directing manager Christine Sharma says there's a lot more at risk than our designers heading offshore. "We will end up with 'cookie cut' shopping environments that may be quite slick but are often soulless and the parent company is based offshore, therefore returning funds to other countries, and not supporting local manufacturing environments," she says.

"Spending in local stores creates financial support to keep our fashion industry alive and thriving."

- Hamilton News

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