A well positioned opportunity: New Zealand designer fashion 2000—2009

lisa lloyd taylor

Senior Lecturer, Fashion.
School of Art & Design. AUT University.
Auckland, New Zealand.


This study aims to frame the birth of a new sector within the New Zealand fashion industry: that of designer fashion. The paper investigates a number of official reports, academic papers and expert comment to form an understanding of how this term originated and what it represents. Designer fashion, as a unique entity in New Zealand, was recognised at a period of time when the discipline of design was enjoying an increased awareness within this country of how design benefits both aesthetics and business, through creative thinking. Designer fashion was seen as an export opportunity: through this investigation there is revealed an understanding that within the title ‘New Zealand designer fashion’ or ‘designer fashion from New Zealand’ there is an implied export focus.

This study highlights the absence of follow up critical evidence on the success, or not, of the strategies proposed to achieve export growth. These are posed as questions for further research and analysis by Government Ministries, academics, or other informed parties.
This paper suggests there is an opportunity for the New Zealand designer fashion industry to celebrate their stories, encourage collaboration and exploit the increased awareness that it has received over the past decade.

It is now up to the New Zealand fashion industry to define itself; that is define its aesthetic identity and how that is informed by its geographical location, history, multiculturalism and lifestyle. By so doing, New Zealand designer fashion could present the ideal version of New Zealand’s desire to be internationally recognised as innovative, unique, original and sophisticated. New Zealand designer fashion now needs to be proactive in adopting a strategy that will maximize its position as ‘cultural diplomats’ and international market leaders. If such strategies are implemented and followed, New Zealand designer fashion could fully recognise its international earning potential.