As we shift into alert level 2, a group of top fashion designers, brands and retailers are banding together with fashion PR companies, and collaborating for a special online shopping night tonight.
Several top New Zealand fashion brands and retailers have been dealing with a range of issues since lockdown, including enormous wholesale orders that haven't been shipped, cancelled or returned deliveries, store closures, redundancies – all impacting declining sales; while overseas, international fashion weeks and retail trade events have been cancelled.
In an aim to give the local fashion industry a confidence boost both in terms of morale and revenue, the unique collaborative effort, Together Today, aims to give fashion lovers and fans of New Zealand fashion in particular, special one-off deals on the night including discounts, gifts with purchases, giveaways, and more.
Instigated by Murray Bevan, director and founder of Auckland-based fashion PR company Showroom 22 - which represents a diverse range of New Zealand brands including Allbirds, Kowtow, Twenty-Seven Names, Charmaine Revely, Mina, Timberland and adidas – says the shopping night is one way to help the industry, but changes also need to be made post-pandemic too, as designers and retailers adapt to how customers are changing the way they shop.
"Fashion companies need to realise that many of the old frameworks for marketing and connecting with their customers from pre-Covid times are gone, and that we are entering an entirely new paradigm" says Bevan.
"Our agency is currently planning myriad new initiatives and platforms for brands to connect with customers, all formed on the basis that now is the time to try new things and not be tethered by antiquated timelines or seasonal moments. It's an incredibly exciting time for the industry, full of potential. With the help of other leading PR and communications agencies we have mobilised over 120 fashion companies to create a major focal point that will highlight our local fashion design community. It's been extremely rewarding to have sparked this idea that so many businesses have embraced."
The event will go live between 5pm and midnight tonight, and will be hosted on each brand's individual online store including their special offerings and new season autumn/winter 2020 collections; and collectively hosted on the event's homepage at togethertoday.co.nz where customers can peruse practical information about the event and a directory of all fashion brands and retailers participating.
A wide range of brands and designers are included, from high-end to mass retailers, including: Allbirds, Barkers, Deadly Ponies, Fabric, Flo & Frankie, Great Kiwi Yarns, Hallensteins, Juliette Hogan, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Kathryn Wilson, Max, Mi Piaci, Pat Menzies, Timberland, Sunglass Bar, Strangely Normal, Scarpa, Ruby, WorkingStyle, Zambesi and Zoe & Morgan.
Viva magazine will also be activating an at home runway see-now buy now show from some of the designers involved, through its Instagram channel @NZHVIVA.
Designer Wynn Crawshaw, whose Auckland based label Wynn Hamlyn is stocked across New Zealand and internationally including Harvey Nichols and David Jones online luxury online retailer Moda Operandi, says the initiative is also a chance to stay motivated as a young brand.
"The support from New Zealand for Kiwi designers over this time has been huge and we have felt it. It's nice to support back and get involved in an initiative that brings Kiwi brands, of all sizes, together for one night. This kind of offer really helps us to keep the momentum going in our business and gives us a new opportunity to talk to our customers."
Dunedin based stalwart Nom*D is also included, with founder Margi Robertson saying now is the time to come together as an industry. "NOM*d is serious about supporting the New Zealand fashion industry - this is a shout out to all our customers and the industry to say that we are together today."
The impact of Covid-19 on local fashion businesses has been felt in recent weeks, some taking extra precautions to try to survive beyond the pandemic; whether it's the story of local label Ingrid Starnes inviting its community to invest in up to 20 per cent shares as part of a crowdfunding campaign; or whether it's implementing innovative ways to connect with its customers through sewing face-masks for essential workers like Tauranga based-designer Annah Stretton.
"I feel like the biggest factor that sets Kiwi designers apart from their international peers is their reliance on the local market to stay afloat" says Bevan.
"You can count on two hands the brands that have truly succeeded overseas - the rest have set up shop here and studied the market, supported the market and created very strong businesses in New Zealand. I believe that even before Covid-19 we had an incredibly strong local industry that was loved and supported extremely well by Kiwi customers."