Gua Loheni established label Lew Lew with sister Nilla in 2009 after a phone conversation. The pair had both dabbled in design separately in the past - Loheni studied pattern making and garment construction at AUT, and produced one-off pieces of her own, while Nilla worked in the Zambesi workroom. Combining their talents to launch Lew Lew out of a Kingsland villa, they draw much of their inspiration from music and art (Wu-Tang hip-hop is the platform for their design aesthetic) and only create small runs of each style. The pair also recently launched an online store. Loheni tells us more about her wardrobe.
Working with my sister is awesome and challenging. The best moments are when we nail our concepts, and are both on song with each other. Sometimes we fight our way to the end result. It's cool. We push each other, I suppose, because we want to be better.
For us it's been easier to start up a fashion label than some of the stories we've been told of past designers. But, you know, different obstacles for different times. With social media it makes you more accessible to a global audience.
My love for fashion began many moons ago. I'd specify exactly what I wanted and my mum would sew it up. My earliest fashion memories involve brown crepe and bow placements. This dress I designed and mum made, that was the biz for me at the time. I rocked it to my sister's first holy communion.
I don't follow trends because I think it gets a bit elitist, and I don't like that. Wear what you like ... as long as it's not real nasty.
The most treasured item in my wardrobe is a black and white patchwork leather jumper. I bought it at Fast and Loose six years ago. I love wearing it with my Octavia Cook skull cameo brooch, which is another special piece.
My style hasn't changed much at all in the past 10 years. I tend to stick to classics, and wear them until they literally fall off me. My hair has gotten a lot longer though.
My favourite place for inspiration, hands down, is anywhere in Grey Lynn - just walking the neighbourhood. I love it. It's good for my mind.