Up-and-coming Te Puke fashion designer Steve Hall is not letting fame go to his head after clinching top honours at an internationally recognised competition at the weekend.

The 25-year-old spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday during a break from making kiwifruit trays and was adamant his future success hinged on gaining more industry experience in fabric, not cardboard.

The Massey University graduate hoped to cement his career path with a Kiwi internship and would seek advice from the judges who described his 'Abandon Man' collection as "a completely fresh interpretation of a 'non-gendered' silhouette" after awarding him top prize in the 11th annual iD International Emerging Designer Awards in Dunedin.

He caught their attention ahead of designers from New Zealand, Australia, Europe China and India with garments that drew heavily on Japanese culture and costumes of the samurai and ninja.


Judge Margi Roberston said there was nothing traditional about the outfits which were "very androgynous."

"It wasn't over the top; in a quietly confident way it was a new silhouette for a guy, which is refreshing. It was very beautifully constructed and it could be worn by men or women."

Mr Hall said he had intended to be an architect but an interest in menswear and the opportunity to construct his own clothing changed his mind.

No stranger to the limelight, his creations have won awards at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Massey University. He juggled a full-time job in a Wellington restaurant while sewing the winning collection with limited resources, in a makeshift studio in half the living room of his flat and "I just finished in time".

Inspired by his surroundings, friends and people he knew, Mr Hall also credited his country upbringing and metropolitan lifestyle for shaping his style sense.

"I would say I am quite masculine but then not really because I wear skirts now and again. I am very subtle, I guess but some people look at me and say that is interesting."

"It is never to turn heads."

London was also on the cards but Mr Hall acknowledged he needed to learn the tricks of the trade first.


"I haven't really had any fashion experience so far. I think I need to get some advice on where to go next after I finish the kiwifruit season."

"But I am definitely staying in fashion and hope to have my own label one day."

His mum Mericia Hall said she was proud of her son.

"It's an amazing award to win and I'm very proud of him. He's done very well."