A transgender Korean-Kiwi fashion designer is questioning the NZ Fashion Week's ability to be inclusive and diverse after organisers got her name wrong on its official programme.
This year's premier fashion event is being promoted as "the most inclusive ever" with founder Dame Pieter Stewart yesterday making a casting call for models of all ages, body types and gender identities to take part.
But in its original official event schedule online, which has been widely shared, organisers got both the first and last names of 31-year-old transgender designer Cecilia Kang's name wrong - naming her as Cecelia Chang.
"I am upset and disappointed, they have completely changed my brand, my ethnicity and my identity and it has damaged my brand and what I have dedicated my life to," said Kang.
"I am still traumatised and angry by it. Mentally and physically it has damaged my mood, and I'm afraid that people will make fun of my brand and my image. It's important for me as a Korean-New Zealander, for me it's everything."
Kang noted that Chang was a common Chinese name and not Korean, and even though the mistake was corrected, the original one with the error was still being shared online.
"At the moment my brand is damaged and I find it hard to focus. I feel the organisers could have done better especially when they're promoting this year's event as being focused on diversity and inclusion," she said.
"I was hoping that NZ Fashion Week will be where I can drive my brand awareness and promote who I am and my designs, but it has been a devastating start."
An NZFW spokeswoman blamed the mistake on an administrative error.
"We are mortified to have made a spelling mistake on the NZ Fashion Week schedule and immediately contacted Cecilia to offer our apologies," she said.
"We always want to do the right thing by the NZ fashion community and have a real commitment to ensuring the event is as inclusive as possible."
Designers showcasing this year also include a non-binary designer, a designer of gender-neutral clothing and a Diversity Conversation seminar to champion diversity in the industry.
"This was purely an administrative error and we are thrilled to have Cecilia Kang on board for 2019," the spokeswoman added.
Kang, a self-taught designer who moved to New Zealand from Korea when she was 12, is participating in the event for the first time.
She faced family tensions and torturous years in high school because of her gender identity, and described her journey to self acceptance as a difficult one.
As a child, Kang would dress in her mother's clothes and smile in the mirror, but says she has grown to feel positive about being who she is and how far she has come.
NZ Fashion Week is aimed at providing a platform for local and international designers to showcase and promote their collections and brands, and provide a launching pad for them to grow their business.
Kang started her fashion career dressing beauty queens for Miss Asia Pacific International and Miss Universe.
She will be revealing her new collection - Galaxy Extravaganza - at her Cecilia Kang Couture, Face Me Makeup show.
"My ideas evolved towards the different forms of shape in nature and of non-solids like gas - everything that surrounds us," Kang said.
"The collection includes all forms of life expressed in artistic detail on my garments."