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7 NZ designers to show at Australian Fashion Week

Seven New Zealand designers to show at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week

20 April 2004 -- With Australia representing New Zealand fashion’s biggest export market, leading designers Trelise Cooper, Zambesi, World and Kate Sylvester say it is essential to show their spring/summer collections at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week (MAFW).

Celebrating its 10th year, MAFW shows spring-summer 2005-06 in Sydney to international and Australian media and buyers in from 2-6 May. New Zealand will have a strong presence with the four designers staging catwalk shows as well as three emerging designers – Jimmy D, Sample Only and Holic – taking part in New Generation shows.

Air New Zealand Fashion Week’s Pieter Stewart will also be attending to scope out buyers and media for winter/autumn showing in New Zealand in October.

World, Zambesi and Trelise Cooper all have signature stores in Australia which makes marketing directly important says Francis Hooper from World.

“We have bricks and mortar in Australia with our store on Oxford St (Sydney), so it is very important for us to show strongly there so our audience can see we are a major force in Australian fashion,” Mr Hooper says.

“Being part of fashion week in Sydney makes you part of the Australian fashion landscape.”

Zambesi designer Elisabeth Findlay and Kate Sylvester say MAFW is also a good place to attract new accounts. Kate Sylvester is developing her Asian market and says there is a strong Asian buying presence in Sydney.

“I find the retail environment is always shifting. You never have a customer base set in concrete, it evolves,” Ms Sylvester says. “Both New Zealand and Australian fashion weeks are great for keeping in touch with Asian buyers.”

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has supported New Zealand’s presence at MAFW since 1997 and Senior Trade Commissioner in Sydney John Nicholson says this is because of the significance of the market.

“Australia continues to be the major export market for New Zealand designers, taking nearly $229 million or 72 percent of New Zealand’s $317million in fashion apparel exports (December 2004),” Mr Nicholson says.

In addition to supporting six of the seven designers funding – Jimmy D won the Mercedes Benz Start Up Award which funds him into the New Generation group show in Sydney – NZTE is also hosting an invitation-only networking event during MAFW at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Rocks, Sydney.

Mr Nicholson says that the size limitations of the New Zealand market mean designers are thinking globally from day-one, so it is important for the three young designers to have exposure to a big international fashion event such as MAFW.

“New Zealand is a highly experienced trading nation. Selling specialised products to markets bigger than our own is something we’ve always done. Businesses that tend to do well are those exporting strongly branded, high-value products. This is an area where the fashion sector fares well.
“Competing on price or sheer volume is not viable for New Zealanders. Our fashion exporters have developed strengths in other areas and really differentiated their products,” says Mr Nicholson.

World sells in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, Ireland, France, Italy and in New York in the US. Known for extravagantly themed shows, World’s summer collection is called House of the Flying Daggers, paying homage to Chinese schlock cinema.

Trelise Cooper is available in Australia (signature store in Melbourne and wholesales to about 100 retailers), Singapore, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, Italy and the US.

“While Australia is still our biggest export market, the US is following close behind,” Ms Cooper says.

Celebrity fans in the US have certainly kick-started the label and they include Hollywood stars Julia Roberts, Michelle Pfeiffer, Reese Witherspoon and Angela Bassett.

Her summer collection was inspired by Monte Carlo and Monaco of the 1920s and 30s and is called Société des Bains de Mer.

Zambesi has stores in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as supplying selected retailers throughout Australia and is available in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Japan and New York.

Kate Sylvester is sold in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Her summer collection Night of the Iguana is inspired by a movie directed by John Huston, set in Mexico in the 1960s.

Holic and Sample Only already have stockists in Australia while Jimmy D is making his Australian debut in May.


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