I can’t believe New Zealand Fashion Week 2013 is over! The week just flew by and it’s been an amazing experience.

For those of you who didn’t know, there’s 3 dedicated ‘Trade’ days (for Media, VIPS and buyers) this year and Fashion Weekend which is open to the public. We were invited to watch the individual runways of each designer’s collection during the Trade days which gave us a deeper look than the Public days offer, which groups designers into one show and limits the pieces they put out on the runway. Yay media perks. But we’re not gloating, we’re here to share our experience with you. What I love about Kiwi fashion is that it’s really humble and very different. Call it an acquired taste if you will but a lot of it is incredibly wearable.

If you’ve been looking to switch up your wardrobe or freshen up your sartorial selection, we reckon you should take a look at some of the Kiwi brands. It’s worth the 10 hour plane ride and the $2000(ish) ticket. WE KID, WE KID. Most of their stores have gone online now so our sartorial wishlist is just a click away. Don’t you just love technology? We’re not sure if all the labels ship to Singapore (or wherever you are), but that’s not really a problem, you can always get a piece (or ten) by proxy.

This is Popspoken’s Fashion Week Diary. If you’re looking for something a bit more serious, wait for our Review article where we’ll be dissecting the trends, the beauty looks and then some on the runway.

Day 0

We arrived in Auckland on Monday and attended the Opening Ceremony which was pretty much a mixer/PR function for the trade bunch. Dame Pieter Stewart, who pioneered NZFW a decade ago, made a speech about NZ fashion tapping into the global online market and left us with a poignant and resounding piece of wisdom:

“Online is not a dirty word – It is a powerful tool and needs to be embraced.”

Perfect for International buyers. Like me. And us. And the rest of the world beyond the Antipodes.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key graced the event, made a speech and painted a picture that’s slated to be auctioned off for charity as well. Charity is such good PR, let me tell you. Put ‘charity’ in anything and it just sucks people in. But, hey, you know Fashion is being taken seriously in the country when the PM gets involved in it too, right? (Am I being naive here? Maybe an election is coming up soon) Somebody please invite our PM Lee Hsien Loong to the next Fashion Week so Singaporeans will start sitting up and taking notice and STOP. WEARING. FLIP-FLOPS. ON. ORCHARD. RD.

I digress.

The thing I love about International events like Fashion Week is making industry friends and contacts. It’s a melting pot of different fashion cultures and attitudes that you can’t help but soak in and learn from. I’ve always believed that real fashion remains off the runway and Fashion Week is a great way to observe that.

Day 1

It was a pretty intense day. I don’t think I was fully prepared for 7 shows in a day. I’m just really glad I had enough sense to not wear heels. The shows went really smoothly, there was almost no drama. NZFW is really chill, let me tell you. FW in Singapore is hectic and crazy, but NZFW was an incredibly laid-back fashion event. I think it’s just the Kiwi culture that isn’t on edge all the time (Singapore needs to learn to take a chill pill sometimes), but the organizers must have put millions of hours in to make it work without too many hiccups (either that or they must have spiked the bubbles). These were our favorite runways.

Twenty-seven Names runway photos (Credits to NZFW)

Twenty-seven Names runway photos (Credits to NZFW)

We liked Twenty-Seven Names. It was a preppy chic and very commercial collection that could’ve walked right off the runway and onto the street. The collection drew inspiration from Belgian artist Rene Magritte. I had my eye on the red bomber jacket the whole time! #wishlistplease You can never go wrong with statement pieces! You can find their online store here.


Next was COOP by Trelise Cooper. Trelise Cooper has been around NZ for quite a while and she’s got an established chain of stores all around the country. (COOP by Trelise Cooper is like Miu Miu is to Prada.) Trelise Cooper showed another eponymous runway on Day 2 that was targeted at a more mature clientele. I really hope Trelise Cooper brings her collection to our little island, but she’ll probably end up in a boutique above Level 1 at Ion Orchard. And we all know how Level 1+ at Ion Orchard is always bad on our credit card.


Lela Jacobs show titled ‘de’ was… bizaare. It wasn’t so much selling the clothes as selling a personal culture and a state of mind (lezbehonest here, there’s only a very niche crowd that’ll dig Lela Jacobs’s rags). It was a very bare show that drew all attention to the stark absurdity of the world Lela Jacobs invited us into. It felt like being in a Monastery and the models were spirits summoned by Lela, staring randomly at boggled spectators and into the abyss, serene in the knowledge that they were privy kings and queens to a little known secret. What made it organic were the live musicians who instrumented a sort of ‘white noise’ with their gadgets and their voices that reminded me of the monotonous chants at religious funerals. Am I overthinking a fashion show here? I could wax lyrical about a show that left me figuratively scratching my head as I left and still provokes thought in me days later but here it is in Lela Jacobs’s words:

“de… is more than just cloth and clothed forms… it is a personal culture it represents many philosophies that have gotten me to where I am today… from a desire to explore and present fibre and texture as the ruling elements… a makers movement in between artisanship and manufacturing… questions answered with other questions fingers pointing to the moon.” #fashionphilosophy


We loved Company Of Strangers. The runway was set at an underground car-park which framed the COS vibe perfectly – grunge, rough and fierce. They mixed drapes and layers with black pieces, I don’t usually go for black on black because I feel it is too Addams Family but I like a bit of grunge. And I used to do theater stuff so I got a little sick of the black-black-black ensemble. What blew the show away were the models who were really power strutting down the runway, and we mean werk it. If you ask me, Company of Strangers is two words: Biker Chic.


Credits to Lily and Louis

Andrea Moore made us smile. Her collection drew from Scandinavian influences and that produced interesting ideas (it was aptly titled ‘Northern Lights’). It was enjoyable, we always like colors on the runway and given New Zealand’s go-to garment color (according to Kiwi Fashion Meisters) is 50 shades of black, it was a sprightly pick-me-up towards the end of a long day. Also, I want that swan outfit.

Zambesi was a jaw dropper. The show kicked-off with quite a statement, the partitions opened up abruptly to expose the entire backstage in all its hectic, back-lit glory. We could see hair stylists and make-up people fussing over models as they were standing in a line for their beat on the runway. I believe different people took different messages away from the bold nouveau act, but what we got was them saying, “This is REAL Fashion.”


Read about New Zealand Fashion Week 2013 Days 2 & 3 here.

Photo credits go to: www.fashion.ngfoto.com, Lily and Louis, chloeanguschang