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Karen Walker And Insidious Fix Win Awards

Media Release 17 October 2004


Leading fashion designer Karen Walker has won the inaugural Air New Zealand Fashion Week Export Growth Award with a proposal that will see her dedicate half of the lucrative prize to support an up and coming New Zealand fashion designer.

Ms Walker intends to use the Award to significantly grow her own exports in the Northern Hemisphere and to share her experience with an emerging designer who she will take with her to London Fashion Week next year.

In addition, Air New Zealand has awarded a second travel prize valued at $16,000 to emerging Auckland knitwear exporter Insidious Fix in recognition of their superb export potential.

Announcing the winners on Sunday at Air New Zealand Fashion Week's opening gala dinner, Air New Zealand Group General Manager Marketing, Network and Sales, Norm Thompson, said the decision to give two awards was in recognition of two designers who both had excellent export growth potential, but on very different scales.

"Our main objective was to award the designer who could deliver the greatest export growth as a result of their proposed trip. When we judged the entries we discovered there was a group of up and coming exporters that couldn't hope to deliver the same return as someone such as Karen, yet had huge potential and deserved support."

Karen Walker, who started exporting in 1997, says her export objectives for the next three years are heavily centred on showing at London Fashion Week - and the Air New Zealand Fashion Week Export Growth Award significantly supports her plans.

Also, to show her own support for New Zealand's burgeoning fashion industry, Karen's winning entry will see her dedicate half of her prize package to an emerging designer who will have the priceless opportunity of shadowing Karen at London Fashion Week in February and September.

"Over the past few years I've gained traction in the global fashion market and with this Award I can now use that to open doors for another New Zealand designer - giving them an opportunity to learn about showing in a global environment, the chance to work alongside some of the best stylists and producers in the world and to meet numerous international media and buyers," Ms Walker said.

Mr Thompson said the judges were impressed with Karen Walker's export strategy and were confident considerable export growth would be achieved as a result of the Award.

"Karen Walker has achieved significant export success and proven to be one of the most interesting and closely watched New Zealand labels on the global fashion scene. Next year she's ready to take her export business to the next step and London Fashion Week is a vital part of that.

"What's more the opportunity Karen Walker will give to an emerging designer via the Air New Zealand Fashion Week Export Growth Award is extremely generous and will undoubtedly help boost the recipient's export efforts. Such an introduction to the world fashion market is something that no young designer could possibly hope to achieve on their own in a similar timeframe," said Mr Thompson.

The designer who will accompany Karen Walker to London Fashion Week next year will be selected by Karen Walker in consultation with Air New Zealand Fashion Week, Air New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The Air New Zealand Fashion Week Export Growth Award was open to all designers showing at Air New Zealand Fashion Week 2004 and offers a prize of four business class tickets on Air New Zealand to any of the airline's international destinations, to a maximum value of $32,000. In addition Hilton Auckland, an elite sponsor of Air New Zealand Fashion week, will provide the winner with up to five nights' accommodation in any two of its 250 branded Hilton International properties worldwide. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will provide in-market support to assist the winner with their export drive.

The additional award to Insidious Fix is a prize of two business class tickets on Air New Zealand to any of the airline's international destinations, to a maximum value of $16,000.

Established by Kylee Davis and Jason Crawford nine years ago, Insidious Fix is keen to increase exports of its New Zealand made designer knitwear to Australia and then to target key retail outlets, distributors and agents in London, Los Angeles and Tokyo.

"We believe that internationally there is an untapped niche market for our unique, original and sexy knitwear and we can now capitalise on it. Without this award any significant travel would have been prohibitive," Ms Davis said.

Mr Thompson says the judges were thrilled with the level of interest in the award and excited by all the export plans the designers outlined in their entries.

"We received high quality entries from designers across the spectrum and to be able to support the plans of two stand-out designers at different stages of their export business is very exciting. The judges of the awards: Pieter Stewart of Air New Zealand Fashion Week, Paul Blomfield of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Jenny Simpson of Air New Zealand and myself are confident these awards will help them fulfil the export goals of their uniquely New Zealand-made brands."


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