Across the pond in Aotearoa (New Zealand) is a wealth of creatives making a name for themselves across the country and globe. 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 often at the forefront, creatives that reside in Aotearoa are making clothing that speaks to what we want to be wearing, enriching the Oceanic fashion landscape and reminding us all how we can mimic their efforts in sustainability and innovation.
From "it" girl favourites like Paris Georgia to handmade knitwear from Harry Were, these are our top 10 New Zealand designers to know, below.
Contemporary ready-to-wear label Paris Georgia was founded almost a decade 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?