Petra Benton aims to bring something a little new to the New Zealand fashion industry, an unapologetically feminist effort to encourage women to find their strength. “Women are so incredible when they are confident and truly comfortable in themselves, they are unstoppable,” explained Benton.
She cites strong women, such as her mother, as her biggest inspiration. Her mother, a property developer, homemade much of Benton’s clothes growing up and accordingly, passed her passion for design and intuitive eye onto her daughter. Benton recalls being taught how to make skirt patterns at a young age, and painstakingly sewing her own Halloween costumes with her mother’s encouragement. “I owe her a lot,” she reflected. She pursued this passion by studying design at AUT, learning pattern-making, construction, and many more advanced skills that have taken her designs to the next level. She believes her formal education lends her garments greater integrity and honesty, which are two fundamental values in Benton's designs. “Knowledge is freedom. You have to know the rules before you can break them.”
Another key influence is Benton’s parents’ background in property development. Growing up in such a creative and industrious business imbued her with a love of all things to do with product design and architecture. “From very literally growing up on building sites!” she laughed. Accordingly, she loves every aspect of the design process. Today, Benton works on her own to create her products, with a little help from family and friends to ease the scariness of working as a start-up. Her summer collection can be found exclusively online at www.petrabenton.com. As a small new brand, Benton’s focus is on getting her “PB woman” out into the world through developing her garments. Her current products aim to combine comfort and beauty, to motivate and inspire strong women wearing her designs. She is also seeking to develop the brand in the future to a stage where she can introduce home wear, activewear and begin to work with organisations that support women's health and growth worldwide. In the meantime, she’s nowhere near short of ideas. “Inspiration is in everything if you look with the right eye.”