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Kiwi Fashion Designers Keep Impressing Aussies

Auckland, February 21, 2002 -- Australians came, saw and loved Kiwi fashion last year and to ensure they don’t forget, Trade New Zealand is supporting six designers to show at the Melbourne Fashion Festival next month.

Zambesi and Trelise Cooper will stage individual ready-to-wear shows, while Gaye Bartlett, High Society, SAGA and Robin Jones will show as one group, called Quadro New Zealand.

Trade New Zealand account manager apparel and textiles, Anne Chappaz, says Australia is fashion’s biggest export market, accounting for 66% of apparel sales offshore. Showing winter ranges in Melbourne and then in May showing summer ranges at the Australian Fashion Week, in Sydney, will keep the momentum built at the inaugural L’Oreal New Zealand Fashion Week (October 2001) moving towards this year’s event, she says.

Melbourne-based Trade New Zealand Trade Commissioner Tui Te Hau says the Melbourne Fashion Festival, which runs from 17-24 March, is a significant event on the Australian fashion calendar. Design superstar Philippe Starck and Sex in the City senior stylist Rebecca Weinberg are among the international style guests.

“Many retailers from other states travel to Melbourne for the festival to check out new labels and attend the business seminar and networking events,” Ms Te Hau says.

“The Melbourne Fashion Festival has proven to be an effective way of picking up new Australian accounts and consolidating relationships with existing buyers.

“Melbourne is a critical market for New Zealand designers as it shares a similar climatic and cultural profile. MFF is a consumer-focused event, showcasing ranges that are already in store for winter. It’s a good way for designers and their retailers to work together to support sales.”

Export network coordinator Gaye Bartlett says that as a follow up to New Zealand Fashion Week, showing in Melbourne will prove New Zealand designers are serious contenders for marketshare in Australia. It will also increase the profile of the 2002 New Zealand Fashion Week from a business perspective - and by forming the group-focused network, will maximise media exposure.

“Individually it is difficult to get media exposure and expensive to stage a show but as a network we believe we have the strength to make an impression,” Ms Bartlett says.

Quadro New Zealand shows on Tuesday March 19 at 5PM.

Gaye Bartlett and her daughter, Deanne Young, export 80% of the Gaye Bartlett label to Australia. Their fashion concept is classic style and dramatic simplicity with purity of design and fine craftsmanship. The winter 2002 Gaye Bartlett range is an eclectic collection inspired by the flora and fauna of New Zealand.

Robyn Hall, director of High Society, will show the Obi label in Melbourne. High Society manufactures and distributes Catalyst, AnnMaree Chambers, Mosaic and Obi. In the sixth year of exporting to Australia, High Society has about 60 stockists there.

Obi is an eclectic mix of items with the emphasis on unexpected detailing and quality fabrications. Simple fabrics are often used, with innovative styling and detailing creating interest.

Lewis Design Company principal Angela Hood says with 40% of her business in Australia, MFF is an opportunity to increase brand awareness for SAGA and SOULO. She has been exporting to Australia for more than 10 years.

Victoriana, interpreted in modern combinations, is the inspiration for SAGA and SOULO this winter. Strong silhouettes provide the background for softer design features in a remix of definitive and rich styles of dress. The ranges glory in the sexy contours of bust, waist and hip.

Claire Kingan-Jones, principal of Robin Jones which produces RJC, Robin Jones and Edge labels, says her sales into Victoria increased significantly at New Zealand Fashion Week and the timing is right to build on that.

Czarist Russia’s opulence, luxury and glamour were the inspiration for the winter 2002. A mixture of luxurious fabrics and tactile textures, the RJC range is marked by its lace, beading and fur trims.

Trelise Cooper will show her self-named label in a ready to wear show on Tuesday March 19 at 6.30pm while her youthful Doll label is in the Independent Day parade on March 23 at 8pm. Cooper has 35 stockists throughout Australia with 10 in Victoria, including a signature Trelise Cooper store in Hawkesburn Village.

Her lavish showcase at New Zealand Fashion Week and will be reduced to a highlighted version. The Trelise Cooper winter collection is a juxtaposition of the strong and the vulnerable, a celebration of the contradictory roles of women today. The collection balances the structure with the soft, the romantic with the independent.

Zambesi shows in the ready-to-wear collection on Monday March 18 at 7pm with the cream of Australian designers including Scanlan & Theodore, Akira Isogawa, Collette Dinnigan and Nicola Finetti.

Zambesi opened an Australian branch of the company in 1988 and has developed wholesale sales throughout most Australian cities. Retail stores have been established in Sydney and Melbourne and plans include opening another retail store in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney this year.

Director Neville Findlay says Zambesi will present an offering from their triumphant Birds of Paradox collection, as shown at New Zealand Fashion Week. He says this collection reflects something of a distorted Zambesi time-line, with evocative statements of contrast and contradiction from the past and the present.


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