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Designers set to repeat international success

NZ fashion designers set to repeat international success at Australian Fashion Week

April 11 2006 - It's been a decade since the first New Zealand showing at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week in 1997. 2006 sees two fashion icons and two new stars making up the New Zealand contingent at MAFW in Sydney 26-30 April this year.

"It has been a great year for New Zealand Fashion. We saw new talent at Air New Zealand Fashion Week, five labels showcased at the Tranoi fair during Paris Fashion Week (Zambesi, World, Sabatini, Ng and Nom D), and our strong Oscar performance saw New Zealand creations on the red carpet in Los Angeles," New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Trade Commissioner in Melbourne Sara Lochore says.

Zambesi and World are popular shows at the Sydney event showing spring-summer collections, while Cybele and Keucke are showing there for the first time and looking to extend their export market.

"The fact that Zambesi and World regularly show in Sydney illustrates how important the Australian market is to New Zealand designers," New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Trade Commissioner in Melbourne Sara Lochore says.

"NZTE has supported designers attending MAFW since 1997 and staff onshore and offshore offer a range of services to assist export growth from exporter education, business advice and mentoring to putting New Zealand designers in touch with international buyers, importers and distributors," she says.

"Zambesi has signature stores in Melbourne and Sydney and World has a store in Sydney, so they are an important part of the fashion landscape here, offering something unique that is not covered by Australian designers.

"NZTE also recognises their wider export capabilities and supported both companies in showing at the Tranoi showcase during Paris Fashion Week in March."

Tranoi had great results for World, says Francis Hooper who owns World with his partner Denise L'Estrange-Corbet.

"We've shown for three seasons at Tranoi and have been well received. We've been invited to show at the menswear salon shows as well so will be going four times a year now; January and June for menswear and March and October for women's," Hooper says.

"Our buyers from the UK and Italy come to Paris to view the ranges. We are now in a couple of US boutiques and the Japanese are starting to show an interest, so things are beginning to roll internationally, which feels good."

World plans to wow the fashion world in Sydney with a show of both men's and women's clothing on 27 April. Their shows are always a mix of theatre and fashion and Collection 33 - their 33rd collection - will be no exception.

Zambesi's Elizabeth Findlay says Tranoi has been an opportunity to develop new business and strengthen the brand's profile in the northern hemisphere. This season international stylists in particular, got very excited about the collection and several placed personal orders.

She says MAFW is very important to Zambesi because they have such a strong following in Australia.

"We choose to launch our summer collections in Sydney each year for a number of reasons. Australasia is still our most significant market and creating a show is the most successful way to communicate what the brand is about. It supports our retail stores in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as more than 20 wholesale clients throughout Australia."

Cybèle designer Cybèle Wiren has garnered plenty of attention from the fashion press in her four years in business and it is her eighth collection and her first show in Sydney.

A strong solo show at Air New Zealand Fashion Week last October has resulted in two Australian stockists - Perth and Melbourne - and an invitation to be the only New Zealand designer at the recent 2006 Shanghai International Young Fashion Designers Showcase in China, which was attended by more than 150 members of the media from the Asian versions of such prestigious magazines as Vogue, Bazaar and Cosmopolitan.

After completing a degree in visual arts, majoring in painting, she found her way into fashion, working overseas before setting up her own label in New Zealand.

She sees MAFW as the best way to launch into the Australian market, being seen by both buyers and media. "It is important to me to present my complete vision for the collection. I want to communicate the concepts behind the clothes, styling and music create the total experience."

Wiren says NZTE has been supportive of not only her export plans, but also in providing business mentoring and funding business courses for young designers.

Veronica Keucke has been launched into MAFW by winning the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up New Zealand Awards in February, which assured her both the funding and a place in the new generation show.

She already has one account in Australia and hopes to build on that steadily as her young business grows.

"I want to concentrate on getting everything right for my New Zealand stockists before I expand too much," Keucke says. "But showing in Sydney is a good opportunity for my New Zealand stockists to see where the label is headed and to see that I have a bigger goal that involves growth and more media; so they feel they are backing a good thing."

Dunedin-based Keucke, a member of the Dunedin Fashion Incubator, established her label in 2004 and Keucke represents high quality, elegant street wear that brings tailoring, drape and luxury to the every day.

Keucke started her career in costume design and travelled in Europe before completing a fashion and design diploma in Wellington. She then headed south because she believes the sense of space and isolation are key inspirations for her collections.

"Successful New Zealand fashion companies should be looking to export to Australia, it is our nearest and most significant market and has the benefit of sharing the same seasons and similar lifestyle, so New Zealand fashion converts well here," NZTE's Lochore says.

"The size limitations of the New Zealand market mean designers need to think globally from day-one. As their businesses grow, many New Zealand designers find Australia is more than 50 percent of their market, so it is significant right from the start which is why we are keen to support labels such as Cybèle and Veronica Keucke."


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