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Canterbury student launches clothing label website

Canterbury university student launches clothing label website

July 31, 2014

A University of Canterbury international business and law student has launched a New Zealand clothing label website aimed at female rural wear, with the help of a university summer scholarship.

Fourth year student Hannah Port, with support from University of Canterbury’s student entrepreneur hub Innovators, has launched Hawthorn Country Design.

The clothing website is offering quality English-style country attire and accessories to customers worldwide. Port says her products have been carefully selected and designed with raw materials such as cashmere sourced from inner Mongolia, Ethiopian lamb leather and the mulberry silk to ensure quality garments.

``I have spent my whole life between the farm and Christchurch, and as time has gone on I have noticed that there are very few transitional casual options, particularly for women.

``New Zealand rural women’s wear is effectively a smaller version of the male counterparts. They are not overly feminine in shape or colour and therefore many rural women do not feel feminine on a daily basis, nor do they feel like they can wear farm clothes into town to meet friends.

``However, in England, rural wear for men and women is considerably more stylised and is acceptable in multiple situations. Men and women are being seen wearing Barbour quilted jackets and Hunter boots from on the farm to jobs in the city. There are even feature articles in UK magazines about bankers choosing to adopt the stylised rural look.

``Furthermore, this matter is becoming more relevant to people in places like Canterbury considering the rather dramatic outward shift into subdivisions and lifestyle blocks post-earthquakes.

``I wanted to import the English brands, but after realising many of their garments were made in China, it gave me the idea to find a short-run supplier in China to make the garments for Hawthorn.

``I won the university summer scholarship late last year which was amazing because it allowed me to spend all summer working on this venture. Mum and I went to a buying fair in Hong Kong.

``University Innovators manager Dr Rachel Wright was a great coordinator and gave me help and advice throughout the scholarship programme. She also set up various meetings to discuss business with established business owners and also introduced me to my mentor for the programme, Dr Nigel Johnson.

``He was supportive and helped hone my ideas - particularly as I moved from wanting to import to establishing my own brand. He is an expert in textiles and so we had many a fascinating conversation about silk and cashmere fibres.

``The products are very much multi-seasonal which is fantastic for life in New Zealand, where we all know the weather is not always as the season dictates.’’

Dr Wright says Port is one of a string of student entrepreneurs at Canterbury who are expanding their ideas and growing them into commercial ventures.


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