New Zealand Fashion Week announces a fresh focus on sustainability for 2019

Green is set to be the new black at this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week, with a fresh focus on sustainability to be integrated across elements of the event from designers, runway shows and seminars to workshops, markets, walking tours and onsite waste reduction.

“Globally the fashion industry is often seen as one of the world’s most highly polluting, but New Zealand has a long-held reputation as a clean, green country and we want to ensure this is showcased and celebrated at the event this year,” says NZFW founder and managing director Dame Pieter Stewart.

“Sustainability is a big focus for NZFW and it’s the first year it has been at the heart of the event. This is just the beginning for us,” she continues.

One of the highlights of the programme for NZFW 2019 is a sustainability seminar held in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development with support from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. To be hosted in the historic Concert Chamber in the Auckland Town Hall and projected live onto big screens in Aotea Square, the two-hour event will include a guest panel of soon-to-be-announced major names in the sustainability and sustainable fashion spheres, including Mindful Fashion NZ.

Aimed at those with an interest in sustainability, the event will have a social rather than environmental focus. “The seminar will highlight the role that leading businesses are playing in addressing social issues through employment and other avenues, illustrating how competitive advantage can be created through social sustainability initiatives,” says Amanda Nicolle, Ministry of Social Development’s director of industry partnerships.

While there are more designers still to be announced, a significant percentage of those already on board have a strong focus on sustainable and ethical practice within their companies.

One of the most internationally sought-after designers of the last few years, Maggie Marilyn is a passionate believer that style and sustainability should co-exist. Her eponymous brand, launched in 2016, creates luxurious, timeless clothing, without compromising on any aspect of sustainability and champions empowerment for every person in the supply chain.

“We believe in a fashion industry that is regenerative and inclusive and this will always inspire our collections,” says founder and designer Maggie Hewitt. “Expect to see beautiful clothing and walk away with new insight into how our garments are made and the sustainable fabrications used.”

Kate Sylvester is a household name in Australasian fashion, co-founder of Mindful Fashion NZ, and has long made sustainability a key part of her brand.

Shoe queen Kathryn Wilson is a firm believer in ethical and sustainable business practices and emerging style star Benjamin Alexander offers an ethically responsible take on beautifully made, luxuriously comfortable clothing.

There’s Olli (by Holly Norman) who fabrics are sustainably sourced, recycled or thrifted and Havilah who is redefining preconceived notions of everyday womenswear by producing consciously-made garments in New Zealand with a strong environmental focus.

Following four trade-focused days of New Zealand Fashion Week, Kiwi consumers are invited to the party to experience all the hype, fun and style at NZ Fashion Weekend.

Since its inception in 2009, NZ Fashion Weekend has continued to establish itself as a premium, public-ticketed event offering attendees unforgettable brand experiences and insight into the local fashion industry.

This year’s sustainability message carries through to the Weekend in a big way, with a second seminar and what’s sure to be one of the most talked about shows of the week, featuring New Zealand’s leading sustainable fashion designers.   

In partnership with the Auckland Council and the Central City Library Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero, the NZ Fashion Weekend Sustainability Show will also live beyond the Aotea Square precinct across the week, in an exciting collaboration that offers the sustainable designers the opportunity to show in an accompanying sustainable design exhibition within the library space. 

Auckland Council and the Central City Library are also working on a range of free fashion activations around the city centre across NZ Fashion Week and Weekend, including sewing and textile upcycling workshops and the Swap it Like it’s Hot 3.0 Recycled Clothing Swap, while the NZ Fashion Museum will be running free guided fashion walking tours featuring current NZFW designers based in central Auckland, as well as those from the city’s fashionable past.

Finally, looking to the logistics of running a sustainable event, the NZFW team is aiming to keep a minimum of 70% of waste out of landfill, a percentage which they hope to increase year on year.

Delegate passes, which in previous years came in plastic pouches, will now be made from recycled materials, and reusable delegate and goodie bags will be available.

Daniel Rolph



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