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The Future of Fashion

Media Release

Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ)

Tuesday, 21 July, 2009

The Future of Fashion

Fashion leaders and tertiary educators from around the country will gather in Christchurch from August 6-7 for the FINZ Education Conference: The Future of Fashion II, to discuss the critical factors of 2009 and beyond for New Zealand's fashion and apparel sector.

"The worldwide economic recession has caused a great deal of uncertainty among New Zealand fashion and apparel businesses, in terms of where to focus their energy and resources in an industry and global environment that's changing at such a rapid pace," says Mapihi Opai, executive officer of Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ).

"The Future of Fashion will deliver some very thought-provoking perspectives on how we're currently positioned and the direction that we're heading in, which can form the basis on new ideas and common goals going forward."

The Future of Fashion II promises a stellar line-up of speakers that include fashion entrepreneurs, creatives, researchers and people who think outside of the square. The two-day programme will be divided into three key sessions, beginning with 'Fashion Economics'.

"Export growth is absolutely critical to the future of New Zealand fashion. We've seen great success, with New Zealand labels being picked-up overseas. However, the international market is tough and buyers have become increasingly discerning," says Pieter Stewart, managing director of New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW).

"In the current economic climate, New Zealand fashion exporters need to pass the 'value' test in terms of brand, design, quality and price. Many of them also need to build on their business and export acumen in order to effectively navigate offshore markets. We have to remember that this is 'the business of fashion'."

As the founder and driving force behind NZFW, Stewart has become an international ambassador for New Zealand fashion. As such, she regularly travels the globe to promote our design talent and wares to the world, and will discuss 'Fashion Export' at the 2009 FINZ Education Conference.

Joining her will be Annah Stretton, whose Waikato-based company, the Stretton Group, boasts an annual turnover in excess of NZ$10 million and a diverse brand portfolio that spans fashion, publishing and hospitality. With 30 retail stores throughout New Zealand and export markets in the U.S, U.K, Europe and Australia, Stretton is well positioned to discuss the volatile 'Fashion Retail Market'.

"Current trading conditions have forced fashion retailers into a corner. For many, the first priority is cash-flow, which means clearing winter stock to make way for new spring/summer ranges. The seasonal nature of the industry has led to aggressive discounting, which is clear for all to see in store windows the length of the country," says Stretton.

"Household budgets might be stretched, but consumers are still willing to spend money; they just expect better value and a unique shopping experience. Now, more than ever, we need to stand out from the crowd and rise above 'average'. Because, when we return to more buoyant conditions, being the cheapest in town won't be a good enough reason alone for customers to keep returning to your store.

"This is a time of opportunity, a time to reflect on your brand and reconnect with your customers. Fashion retailers need to clarify the unique essence of their brand, review what their competitors are doing and devise an innovative sales strategy. The experience should galvanise you and your sales team, because sales mean a more secure future for everyone involved."

'Fashion Communication' is integral to the way that we brand, design and market New Zealand fashion and apparel to the world.

Publisher of Lucire, New Zealand's first commercial online fashion magazine, and founder of JY&A, a global branding and media firm, Jack Yan is an innovator and big thinker when it comes to 'Fashion Branding & Media'.

"There are numerous lessons we can take advantage of when it comes to branding in the fashion sector. The principal one is that companies that truly understand their brands and audiences do better, regardless of the economic climate," says Yan.

"Fashion branding has always been in danger of 'me-too-ism', despite the merits of the designer. We need to get to the heart of the business and how it differentiates itself. Without that, it will be ignored, not only by the customer, but by the media too.

"Another problem is that many companies just don't understand the trends in the marketplace. What we're going through is nothing new - we just have to take a few lessons from history and adapt them to the current situation. We're entering an era of brand rationalisation, not one of brand expansion. People will want to be able to organise the brands they deal with in their minds. Now, the trick is to find a way to take advantage of that."

'Fashion Fibres & Textiles' form the backbone of apparel; the very cloth from which garments are cut and a key component in differentiating New Zealand fashion and apparel on the world stage.

The recipient of a prestigious international award for product innovation and commercialisation, Dr Surinder Tandon, apparel & textile research manager at AgResearch, will discuss 'Wool Innovations for High Fashion & Functionality'.

"In the past 15 years, we've seen a number of significant innovations for wool apparel and many of them have reached the end consumer," says Tandon. "However, more effort is required in R&D around wool textiles if we want New Zealand wool to have a competitive advantage over other natural and synthetic products."

FINZ is also pleased to announce Longbeach co-founder, Graham Harris, as a key speaker at the 2009 FINZ Education Conference. The Christchurch-based clothing manufacturing firm develops and sources garments on a truly global platform for clients in New Zealand and international markets. With 35 years experience in the apparel industry, Harris has vast expertise in 'Global Supply Chains', having established a strong manufacturing presence in Asia, with headquarters in Shanghai, and a sales network in Australia.

Further enhancing the 'Fashion Communication' session, Dr Joan Farrer, associate professor of fashion & textiles at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), will examine 'Social & Political Ideas in Fashion'. A former ragtrader from the U.K, Farrer more recently held distinguished research posts at London's Royal College of Arts, Central Saint Martins and the Design University of Arts, and brings a rich global perspective to The Future of Fashion II.

The FINZ Education Conference was initially designed to facilitate alignment and collaboration between the tertiary sector and industry.

"Having key members of the fashion industry gathering together to discuss The Future of Fashion is an ideal opportunity for us to ensure that our programmes meet the industry's needs, both now and going forward," says Nicola Chrisp, head of fashion at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), host of the 2009 FINZ Education Conference.

Now in its eighth year, this unique industry initiative has evolved from modest beginnings into an essential conference that addresses issues critical to the future of New Zealand's fashion and apparel sector.

The 2009 FINZ Education Conference: 'The Future of Fashion II' will be held at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) from August 6-7, 2009. The event is open to industry, fashion educators and the public. Tickets cost $295.00 ($195.00 FINZ members). For more information, contact Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ) - ph: +64 9 337 0500 (or) email:

Event Partners

Event Partner Apparel & Textile Industry Training Organisation (ATITO)

Host Partner Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT)

Support Partner Charles Parsons NZ Limited

Research Facilitator Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

About the Event Organiser

Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ) is the voice of New Zealand's fashion and apparel sector. The not-for-profit organisation was founded 'by the industry' to provide representation and support 'for the industry'.

Our mission is to have the fashion and apparel sector valued for its economic, creative and cultural contribution to New Zealand, and ensure its sustainability going forward.

© Scoop Media

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