Backstage with New Zealand Fashion Week: 6 Trends You Need to Know [Part I]

As the “Big Four” fashion weeks transform our calendars into a carousel of events throughout the year, fashion observers around the world remain glued to media outlets for the latest updates on designer collections and trends. While all eyes are focused on the major fashion capitals of the world, 20 years ago it may have been difficult to conceive the existence of fashion shows outside of New York, London, Milan and Paris due to the heavy media coverage. Not so for the global fashion shows that have been popping up all over the world to capitalize on tourism and to instill a sense of national identity and pride. For those seeking to identify global trendsetters outside of the norm, it is important to note the emerging designers and influencers beyond the well established brands.

So with all that said, I was COMPLETELY psyched when I was accredited for my international media pass for New Zealand Fashion Week. As a native New York resident (aye-ohh Rochester, NY!), I had the unique opportunity to mingle with the media and blogger San Pareil (!!!), talk with Kiwi designers about their collections and float through the crowd of attendees as a Fashion Week delegate. I even met editorial photographer Alex Henderson who creates beauty portraits and offered to do a session at his New Zealand studio. Yes, me.

Here are behind the scenes footage to prove it was a blast!

Since this was my first year attending NZFW (note of the ‘Z’ folks) I had no idea what to expect. Luckily for you I’ve put together a few NZFW references to bring you up to speed. Here’s what you need to know about NZ Fashion Week:

  • While the rest of the world may consider New Zealand nothing more than an enchanted forest filled with hobbits, New Zealand started their Fashion Week back in 2001.
  • For the last 16 years NZFW has provided a platform for hundreds of designers to show on the runway.
  • This year, NZFW is all about the up and coming designers which is refreshing as fashion weeks around the world act as a springboard for new creatives. For some Kiwi and international designers, it is their first time presenting a collection to the eyes of the fashion world.
  • Unlike the Big Four shows which adhere to one specific season, Kiwi designers have the luxury of presenting their collections in one of two seasons: the option of showcasing forward looks for next season during the trade-focused period within the first three days of the week or present their in-season collection, Spring/Summer, during the public-focused period.

Can we just marinate on the brilliance of this for a moment? International media and buyers can curate a lust list of standout pieces and designers for next season alongside attendees who can see, stalk and own what the cool kids are wearing now. Genius. Although NZ Fashion Weekend was packed with seminars, beauty bars, discounted shopping and DJs, let’s be honest, the real fun lies in people watching and viewing the shows in lurker fashion. Based on my stalker observations, the mutual relationship between attendees and runway looks is predictive of purchasing patterns. The collections at NZ Fashion Week are representative of the city’s citizens and suited for a global audience for a number of reasons:

  1. Polished Practical Pieces: Say goodbye to complex clothing. Fun, functional and fashionable elements are required prerequisites to building a wardrobe, specifically mine. As a long-term traveler, I can relate as pieces must be comfortable and interchangeable enough to be mixed and matched, then remixed again across multiple seasons for any and many occasions.
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /

Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
  1. Minimalism: For the most part, Kiwis seem to be no fuss and pretty humble (okay, okay I said for the most part for those who are laughing…geesh). Perhaps the understated attitude rings true for their style as well.
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
  1. Refreshing Silhouettes: Unnecessary frills seem to disappear when clean and streamlined looks are presented to feed your fashion lust. These looks have a whole lot of volume for all the right reasons without having to define femininity under the notion that tight means right.
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
  1. Streetwear reigns supreme: If runways are for the buyers, then streetwear is for the trendsetters and cool hunters. What better way to identify trends than to peep the street? Plus, it happens to be on par with industry trends from the ‘model off-duty’ look to the blogger that’s barely trying.
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
  1. Athleisure: Whether we admit it or not, we all had a soft spot for Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls. I mean how could you not? With the Olympics just recently behind us, I’m sure a few of us were trying to figure out how to incorporate more Lycra and baseball caps into our wardrobe. As our lives continue to maintain a work-life balance with Skype meetings in between, elevated workout wear is not going anywhere soon. So swap those heels for low-top sneakers.
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
  1. All Black Everything: Greys are cool and nudes are noninvasive but black is the new black because there never needed to be a new black. Period. Plus I think it’s safe to say that Kiwis have this thing for head to toe black probably because it reeks of attitude without being offensively rude (hence my assumption of point #2). Interestingly enough, many of the country’s sports teams have the word ‘black’ as part of their names: All Blacks, Black Ferns, Black Caps, Black Sox, Black Sticks, Ice Blacks, Tall Blacks, Black Fins, Iron Blacks… see?
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /
Curtesy of © Michael Ng /

There’s so much more to NZ Fashion Week so I’ve distilled it down into a my NZ Fashion Week vlog for an inside look behind the scenes. If you’ve gotten this far, bravo. But this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as designers. I haven’t even told you about the new kids on the block that unapologetically presented collections that resonate their heritage.

Next up: Meet the Maori designers of New Zealand Fashion Week

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