The first names for New Zealand Fashion Week have been released this week, with a fantastic mix of established designers and top emerging brands set to participate from August 26th to September 1st.

Kate Sylvester has been at the forefront of New Zealand fashion for nearly 25 years. Her live shows - always a fusion of clever, cool, and creative - are highly anticipated. "We are looking forward to participating in NZFW this year and returning to where this iconic event all began at the new Aotea Square venue," said Sylvester.

Also returning is Zambesi, whose edgy, outside-the-box design aesthetic never fails to carry through to their unmissable runways. "Zambesi celebrates 40 years of fashion design this year," said Zambesi co-founder Elisabeth Findlay. "We're excited to be showing at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2019 to mark our anniversary."

Currently, the details of Zambesi's show are under wraps, but it will be located somewhere in the heart of Auckland City. "We are very much looking forward to presenting a show that reflects the significance of 40 years of Zambesi, made in New Zealand," said Findlay.

Maggie Marilyn has quickly emerged as a global leader in the sustainable fashion movement. Founded by Maggie Hewitt, the brand is often celebrated for its luxury collections, proving that style and sustainability can co-exist.

"This will be our debut show globally," said Hewitt. "It felt really important for us to do it here in New Zealand as this is home and we wouldn't be where we are without the constant support of our incredible local makers and supporters."

Many will be familiar with Benjamin Alexander as the winner of Project Runway, but his participation in this year's NZFW will give guests the chance to see the full breadth of his talent in contemporary womenswear.

“We can’t wait to host our solo show at NZFW,” says Alexander. “It’s the first time we have been able to completely control the experience of Benjamin Alexander and offer a glimpse into the world we are creating for the brand.”

New Zealand Fashion Week rock-stars Stolen Girlfriends Club, crowd favourite Adrian Hailwood, and footwear maven Kathryn Wilson are also returning to the runway for 2019. Adhala LenzoOlliWickenJockeyHavilah, and Starving Artists Fund round out the first designer announcement.

Adrian Hailwood.

In anticipation of NZFW 19, founder and managing director Dame Pieter Stewart confirmed the attendance of key media and influencers like I-D Magazine, Patty Huntington, and Beck Wadworth.

"We're thrilled with the calibre of the designers, buyers, and brands already on board for New Zealand Fashion Week this year and there are many more to come," she said. "We're passionate about playing a leading role in addressing social issues and encouraging the fashion industry to improve its social impact."

This year also sees a change in venue, with a move to Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square. Whilst this may be a 'new' location for many, the dynamic inner-city spot was in fact where the very first New Zealand Fashion Weeks were held.

"For this first time in 15 years, New Zealand Fashion Week is heading back to where it all began," said Stewart. "The bustling arts and culture precinct is at the heart of Auckland City, and the close proximity to the city's most popular retail spaces and iconic destinations - such as Queen Street, K' Road, and Ponsonby - means the event will be more accessible than ever."

In 2019 NZFW is sharpening its focus on a sustainable circular model for the industry and its work with young designers will help them showcase the values of best sustainable and ethical practise in the local supply chain.