Designers compete to show at Fashion Week

By Eveline Harvey

Last year's Westpac Young Fashion Designer competition winner Jess Britten. Photo / Supplied
Last year's Westpac Young Fashion Designer competition winner Jess Britten. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand's aspiring fashion designers have just a few more days to submit their entries for this year's Westpac Young Fashion Designer Competition.

Open to students who are currently completing a New Zealand fashion-based tertiary course, or who have graduated from one with in the last four years, the competition aims to help talented designers kick-start their careers.

In addition to a $5000 cash prize from Westpac, the winner will receive a year's banking advice and a year's mentoring from a designer already working in New Zealand's fashion industry.

"It's a real, concrete prize," said competition spokesperson Chris Lorimer.

"It's cash but it's also mentoring. You get advice on how to maximise that money... and you also get someone in the fashion industry to help you if you've got questions, whether that be about further studies or about starting your business or whatever."

Three well-known fashion industry names - photographer and stylist Karen Inderbitzen-Waller, musician and designer Boh Runga and Zambesi menswear designer Dayne Johnston - are judging this year's competition.

They will select ten semi-finalists before a public vote on Facebook determines the final three, all of whom will have the opportunity to take part in the Red Collection show at next month's New Zealand Fashion Week.

The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the show on September 1.

Last year's winner was Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology student Jess Britten.

Britten has since moved from Christchurch to Auckland and is working in the fashion industry.

"That platform that's raised [for the winning designer] is fantastic," said Lorimer.

"The designers that are part of the Red Collections day, they think it's great... the industry loves it."

Runga said New Zealand was "a nation full of ideas that need to be seen".

"Having a competition like this, that enables a budding designer to get their clothing out to people, is a wonderful way to nurture that creativity and support New Zealand business as a whole."

Inderbitzen-Waller said the competition was a "leg up for the right person" who then had to seize the opportunity and make the most of it.

"I aim to help see that it goes to the right recipient," she said.

Designers have until 5pm on Thursday to enter a portfolio of three looks, along with a brief biography and a paragraph about how they plan to put the prize package to use.

Entry forms can be uploaded by going to facebook.com/westpacyoungdesigner.

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