While you can shop for New Zealand designer clothes almost anywhere in the world, the experience is more satisfying down here. Take Karen Walker, for example. Her clothes sell in a number of countries, but in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch you can flick through the racks at a genuine Karen Walker store. Her designs include eyewear, jewellery and sportswear for iconic Kiwi outdoors label Swanndri.
Dunedin is home to Nom*D. Established by Margi (Margarita) Robertson, the label is renowned for its dark, wittily sombre look that is wearable and comfortable. Another supremely successful Kiwi label is Zambesi. Liz Findlay, the design force behind it, combines form, structure and simplicity with a sense of irony that has won her followers world-over.
Another icon of New Zealand fashion is World. The Auckland-based fashion house is best known for its colourful, imaginative clothes that break boundaries while remaining completely wearable.
Karen Walker, Nom*D, Zambesi and World were the first to show New Zealand style to the world at London Fashion Week in 1999 as the ‘New Zealand Four’ group.
While the ‘New Zealand Four’ got the ball rolling, today there are plenty of other Kiwi designers whose creations are rocking top fashion stores around the world.
Laurie Foon, with her Starfish label, and Alexandra Owen, with her smartly tailored ensemble, epitomise Wellington’s passion for fashion. Auckland is home turf of Trelise Cooper (renowned for her colourful, avant-garde clothes), Huffer (an innovative sportswear line) and Kate Sylvester (known for her pretty, feminine clothes and classic tailoring).
There are some New Zealand designers, like Annah Stretton, who have not succumbed to the lure of the city. Stretton’s business is based in Morrinsville, a country town between Auckland and Hamilton. Here you can shop at her outlet store and enjoy the menu at her fashion-friendly eatery, Café Frock.
There are many other local designers to discover on your New Zealand holiday. Keep your credit card ready.