One of the country's top fashion brands has walked out on NZ Fashion Week.
World will instead be showcasing its latest collections independently - two weeks before the official fashion week kicks off.
Designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet says it was a business decision. "We don't need to piggy-back. We decided doing our own thing suits us better."
L'Estrange-Corbet, who designs alongside Francis Cooper, will present a collection to an audience of 500 at the Langham on August 22.
"It's going to be extravagant, more than just a show. All will be revealed on the night," she says.
Unlike Fashion Week, which is strictly invitation only, World will sell some of its seats to the public.
L'Estrange-Corbet said she was happy to look after her most loyal customers without any pressure to seat official fashion week sponsors and VIPs in the front row. "Half of them, I didn't even know who they were. We like to look after our customers and the people who have supported us."
Securing sponsorship for showing at Fashion Week was a struggle for many labels, L'Estrange-Corbet said, because the event's official partners had exclusive rights. "If your main sponsor is a make-up brand but L'Oreal have naming rights, your sponsor doesn't get anything out of it," she says.
Fashion Week is to announce the line-up of designers today, but it is not yet set in stone. It is understood many designers are holding off confirming their involvement, because the retail slowdown means they are short on cash to pay the big Fashion Week fees.
Last year, organiser Pieter Stewart pleaded for the Government to fund the event.
She said it cost $3 million to stage each year, with a huge shortfall after the labels paid their fees.
This year, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development - a branch of Auckland Council - confirmed it was a sponsor but would not disclose how much funding had been provided. Spokeswoman Charmaine Ngarimu said Fashion Week was likely to bring domestic and international visitors to the Auckland region, as well as foreign investment with fashion buyer placing orders.
Fashion Industry NZ chairman Paul Blomfield said the event was vital to the country's fashion scene, as it provided a platform for designers to showcase their work in front of national media and export markets. "It provides a top quality infrastructure that ensures high quality shows and runway images that get used by media for nearly a year afterwards."