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The Road to Fashion Week

The Road to Fashion Week
- Fabric, frocks and freight charges

Under the gloss of the front row and the glare of the flash bulbs it is easy to forget that pulling together all the threads that make a show-stopping collection takes months of preparation.

With only weeks left until L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week 2003, fashion designers' diaries are well and truly booked.

Around 75 per cent of designers this year say they are still hard at work with collections created but not yet complete.

While designers enter the industry because they are passionately creative, the task of actually realising original ideas is often fraught with obstacles.

It takes time and money to source fabrics, trims, laces, buttons, prints, embroideries, specialist knits, accessories, shoes and accoutrements that give a collection its distinct flavour.

Technology may have simplified the sourcing of specialist products, stockists, manufacturers and suppliers, and made national and international delivery straight forward. However some designers do still chose to hunt down quirky treasures from antique shops or auctions.

One such designer is Adrian Hailwood who created quite a buzz when he took to the L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week stage for the first time last year.

"I have a collection of old things and I'm always on the look out for treasures I can use in my collections. I suppose it is a bit like being a magpie, but when it all comes together - everyone loves the novelty of the detail," Hailwood says.

Also known for his illustrations, Hailwood prints and embroiders his original designs onto fabrics and individual pieces to create something completely different and maintain a point of difference.

Another designer known for her distinctive printed fabrics is 20-year industry veteran, Doris de Pont. Like many designers originality is the key de Pont, but like others she finds time her biggest challenge.

An ongoing hurdle faced by many designers is finding specialised labour in New Zealand such as expert knitters, fabric printers and pattern makers.

With more than two decades of experience behind her, Christchurch-based Sharon Ng, is still constantly on the lookout for specialist resources.

Using knitters based in Gore and embroiderers in Hong Kong, Ng says she spends a small fortune on courier bills.

Aside from producing the collection, designers must also turn their hand to creating a spectacular show, creating theatre to carry through their design visions.

Many designers say the basis to their enduring success is a flexible and understanding relationship with their bank managers.

Established designer Claire Kingan-Jones, says that irrespective of success, finances can be challenging. And other designers are quick to agree.

Kingan-Jones heads up three fashion labels including Robin Jones Clothing, which will be on the Fashion Week catwalk for the third time this year.

Having worked hard to develop an understanding with her bank manager she makes a point of including her financier in important events.

"I think it helps if you can get the bank to buy into the fabulousness of fashion. Banks need to understand that fashion is a lot different to other businesses," Kingan-Jones says.

Since New Zealand fashion designers first graced the L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week catwalk almost three years ago, the event has sparked unprecedented international interest in the local industry.

The event has also transformed many talented Kiwi designers from creatively talented individuals into owners of rapidly expanding businesses.

Managing director and driving force behind New Zealand Fashion Week, Pieter Stewart, says designers need to consider and plan for the unique business challenges that may and usually do result from showing a collection.

About L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week:

After just three years, L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week has cemented its place on the global fashion stage. New Zealand Fashion has come of age and L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week is now a brand in its own right. New Zealand designers are proud of their New Zealand identity - they have the confidence to be daringly different and are proud to strut the raw beauty of their heritage under the spotlight of Fashion Week. >From October 19 to 24, 2003, the city of Auckland plays host as the first Fall/Winter collections for 2004. L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week attracts international buyers and media backed by the strong support of government, industry and a family of committed big brand sponsors

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