Across the pond in Aotearoa (New Zealand) is a wealth of creatives making a name for themselves in fashion. As one of our closest neighbouring nations, we've been paying attention for a while, especially when it comes to forward thinking New Zealand designers.
Sustainability is often at the forefront of New Zealand designs, paying homage to their proximity to nature and native fauna. Fabric often takes the form of natural linens, cottons and wools (yes, we all know that New Zealand has a near-ridiculous amount of sheep). But more than any of this, their designs often speak to what we want to be wearing. Creative, cool, simple and well-crafted garments, jewellery and bags, reminders that it doesn't take much to create a truly beautiful sartorial offering.
From "it" girl favourites like Paris Georgia and Maggie Marilyn, to handmade knitwear from Harry Were or Frissons Knits, these are our top 18 New Zealand designers to know, below, as they start to infiltrate the peripheries of the Australian and international market. Be the first to know.
Contemporary ready-to-wear label Paris Georgia was founded seven years ago by friends and designers, Paris Mitchell Temple and Georgia Cherrie. Garnering a cult following ever since and becoming one of the go-to brand for people like Emily Ratajkowski and Irina Shayk. At it's core, the brand offers luxury, considered pieces that are grounded in quality and timeless silhouettes.
Auckland-based Wynn Hamlyn established his namesake brand in 2015, establishing the brand as a key player in the Aotearoa fashion landscape. Spanning across menswear and womenswear, Hamlyn's eponymous label plays in the grey area between playfulness and relaxed silhouettes, with slouchy tailored trousers, dresses that offer a point of difference, and fun knitwear at the centre of the brand.
Recently B-corp certified Maggie Marilyn forms another cornerstone of the Aotearoa fashion landscape, and is one of the most prominent brand to uphold continuous sustainability standards that rival most efforts. Designer Maggie Marilyn Hewitt offers expertly crafted menswear and womenswear that stands the test of time from a longevity and timelessness perspective.
Yu Mei's Jessie Wong also established her brand in 2015, in Dunedin, New Zealand, when she struggled to find a good quality every day bag for her belongings. A proud third-generation Chinese New Zealander, Yu Mei's offerings span from small, considered going-out bags to large leather carry-all's, all of which are crafted out of impeccable quality byproduct leather.
Women's RTW brand Harris Tapper's ethos is everything the professional woman is looking for. Sleek, modern basics with a pared back approach form the fundamentals of the relatively new brand, which was established in 2018 by Lauren Tapper and Sarah Harris Gould, who base each collection off of easy elegance, subversive femininity and sculptural minimalism.
Photographer and knitter Harry Were launched her eponymous label and small business in 2015, offering a small edit of handmade knitted sweaters, cotton dresses, and tea towels. Designing everything herself, Were works with women across Aotearoa who then turn her designs into perfect, thoughtful knitwear.
Independently created in Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau), emerging designer Emma Jing offers unexpectedly sexy pieces with a point of difference. Soft, ruched bubble dresses, tie up cotton shirts, and oversized silk scrunchies are contrasted with an offering of printed t-shirts that look like they have been drawn on with felt tip and silky boxers. Emma Jing celebrates form both on and off the body producing delicately fluid pieces to suit any moment, season or person.
Georgia Currie founded Georgia Alice back in 2012, and swiftly built a globally known label that was dedicated to simple, luxurious RTW. When Georgia decided to close the brand in June 2021, with only a few pieces remaining online now, we were devastated to lose a pioneer of the NZ fashion industry. However, it was never goodbye for Currie, and will soon launch a new brand entitled Flowers, meaning she is still in the running.
Frisson Knits is a favourite for its locally sourced, ethical wool creations. with a sustainable philosophy and cloud-like silhouettes, each sweater/cardigan is hand made with yarn, knitting needles and a needle and thread. An all-round winner in our book.
The original New Zealand "it" brand was Karen Walker, and for good reason. Walker launched her label in 1989 at just eighteen with $100 in her pocket, and is now ironically recognised as anti-it girl, but we all remember our 2010s obsession with her tortoiseshell sunglasses, don't we?
Japanese inspired designs and fabrics complement a minimalist, comfort-forward ethos. Sustainability plays a central role in Kowtow's designs, but eco-friendly doesn't have to mean plain hemps and linens. They're pushing the envelope when it comes to bold and fun design.
Marle is reimagining your wardrobe staples, offering elevated, well-made pieces designed to outlast trend cycles and remain a cherished part of your wardrobe for seasons to come.
Soft-as-butter leather bags in an assortment of unique, natural shapes and sizes. Georgia Jay takes its cues from nature, creating all of its bags from hand-selected dead stock leathers. Theirs is a brand where form and function live in perfect harmony.
Meadowlark isn't just creating jewellery. Each piece, they say, is a handcrafted love letter, a piece of art designed to empower its wearer and to remain a timeless talisman to hold onto.
Celebrating his debut show at New Zealand Fashion Week 2023, Rory William Docherty is officially at the top of everyone's watch list. Carefully crafted and hand finished in New Zealand, from exclusive original silk prints, Italian wool and cashmere, various deadstock fabrics, Japanese suiting and outerwear and more, Docherty's pieces are glamorous, contemplative and playful. The designer and artist also hand draws and paints the mesmerising prints on his famous painter's shirts and pieces in his collection; with each piece imbued with a creative sensibility.
When James Bush sent a panelled, red coat down the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week 2023, the room collectively gasped. It was the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when a piece is not only brimming with expert craftsmanship, but a tonne of life, too. This harmonious balance comes as no surprise, when you learn that Bush comes from a family of architects and was surrounded by design from a very early age. His pieces are both sculptural, while also reflecting the unique ways people move through the world. Think expert tailoring and timeless silhouettes with a hum of intrigue – Bush's pieces will last you a lifetime.
Launched in 2021, Oosterom is an Auckland-based made-to-order clothing label by designer Nicole Hadfield. Inspired by an ethos to tread lightly, and crafted from her home studio, Oosterom's focus is rooted construction and fit; crafting an exciting blend of timeless silhouettes and Y2k-inspired details to design pieces that can live in the now and beyond.