Nicole Hadfield’s brand Oosterom, a meld of exuberance and tailoring, plays homage to her grandmother.
From machinist to production and now designer, Nicole Hadfield has held many hats in the fashion industry.
After graduating from Tāmaki’s highly regarded Whitecliffe College in 2014, Nicole’s fashion journey began in menswear design for label FRENCH83.
A three-year tenure as production manager at renowned New Zealand label Ingrid Starnes is where Nicole developed her love for a more hands-on fashion experience, such as sampling and pattern-making. But while working in the film industry as a machinist in 2020, those feelings shifted. Nicole felt it was time to break into the world of design on her own. Oosterom, a name which plays homage to Nicoles Oma, Pietje van Oosterom — “She was a wizard on the sewing machine with a heart of gold” — was born.
A drive to create considered clothing altered the way Nicole went about launching her brand. Its purpose would be to create garments with a sharp focus on construction and tailoring. Quality over quantity.
The goal for Oosterom is simple for Nicole: to be mindful of customers’ needs and the environment. “I am driven to create considered clothing that treads lightly on the planet,” she says of her predominantly made-to-order brand. “I make sure construction and fit are integral to each piece, ensuring they are cherished and worn with exuberant confidence.”
Tell us about what your day-to-day role involves.
As a one-woman band, I wear so many different hats it’s hard to keep track. Patternmaking and tailoring bring me the most joy. I grew up obsessed with numbers, so my brain is just wired that way. I see it as architecture built for the body.
What, in your opinion, makes style?
Confidence, a warm smile and not second-guessing yourself.
Describe your personal style and what you wear when you want to feel your best.
Effortless and sophisticated. I’ll usually throw on a two-piece suit with a high-waisted trouser, finished with a belt and some comfortable shoes.
Tell us about a piece of clothing or item you have inherited that’s particularly special to you.
Our childhood dress-up box is full of dresses from the 80s that I’m sure will be handed down through the generations.
Tell us about your earliest fashion memory.
Dancing to 80s Christmas music in said dresses, wearing purple lipstick with my two older sisters. Is that fashion?
Dream fashion collaboration?
Rei Kawakubo or Marni. Or both.
What has been the most rewarding thing about creating a label, and what has been the biggest challenge?
Rewarding — making bespoke wedding dresses for some of my closest friends.
Challenging — I have an almost 2-year-old son, need I say more?
There are a lot of challenges ahead for designers, from navigating the post-Covid world to working towards sustainability. Is there anything that you hope will emerge creatively from this time?
There are many talents out there working so hard to make a difference in our local manufacturing industry. Just look at Rachel Mills and Natalie Procter of Mina, two businesswomen and creatives driven like no other. Then there are incredible initiatives based on Karangahape Rd, like Crushes and The Keep, which continue to shine a light on local creatives. I’m hoping Kiwis will burst out of their conservative bubble a little bit and purchase pieces slightly out of their comfort zone so we can keep the creativity flowing.
Why is a made-to-order process important to you and how does it work within your business?
Made-to-order enables me to focus on tailoring pieces to fit, minimising overproduction and ensuring each garment is destined for someone’s wardrobe. The production time is currently four weeks. As the business grows and there’s a higher demand for key pieces, the plan is to produce limited runs to reduce the wait time and to bring value to the local manufacturing industry.
You have an extensive background in physical garment making, what are the most important practices you can carry through your work and into Oosterom?
A well-made garment will be cherished forever. Creating a garment that looks just as beautiful on the inside as it does on the outside is a true testament to quality.
What can we expect to see from you in the Viva Next Gen show at NZFW 2023?
Crisp cotton shirts, tailored summer shorts and dresses you’ll want to wear while drinking wine on Waiheke.
5 Quick Questions
Dream holiday destination?
I’d love to visit Japan again.
Favourite accounts to follow?
@Ethicallykate, for sustainability with a sense of humour.
@Miraalmomani, for fearless styling.
@Roberts.wood, for garment construction to drool over.
What are you reading at the moment?
Does Hairy Maclary count?
Favourite song, album or podcast?
Soho Radio, NTS or my husband’s 95bFM show Universal Harmony.