The Liann Bellis brand believes very strongly in supporting their local community and take a sense of pride doing so. “Fair trade and ethical, sustainable production are at the forefront of the Liann Bellis brand,” said designer Leanne Greaves. The Kiwi label was first established in the 80’s after Greaves had returned from travelling overseas with her daughter. “I began creating and manufacturing children’s clothes under the name of Liann Bellis and sold to a number of shops throughout New Zealand.” Her brand relaunched in 2010 with childrenswear and moved into womenswear during the recession.
Greaves grew up in Tauranga but moved to Wellington to study a Diploma in Fashion and Textiles at Wellington Polytechnic Fashion School. During this time, she won many industry-related awards for her work. She later moved to Nelson with her husband in 1995, but now Greaves has found herself spending a lot of her spare time renovating her holiday home in Moetapu Bay, Marlborough.
Feeling great in clothes is so important for any women, explained Greaves, that’s what drives her when she creates collections to build an emotional engagement with her consumers. “I think about the women I design for and how to make them beautiful, confident and powerful.” Liann Bellis currently works with two great Auckland-based manufacturers, Kerilin and Able Fashions.
Greaves said there’d been an enormous change in the industry with the rise of social media and the internet. “It has played a big part in the advancement of a global marketplace. Sadly, the advent of the price-driven disposable fashion that continues to aide in the destruction of our planet and oversupply of cheaply made goods,” she said. “The decline in the New Zealand industry having to compete with high labour costs, and less and less New Zealand factories able to survive.” She added that now the world allows brands to be built in such short time frames without a trained designer at the helm.
Greaves is the sole designer, pattern maker, business and production manager, but also has two staff members. Helen controls the digitising and marker making of the patterns along with fabric supplies and with the cutting of smaller runs, and Tina who is a sample machinist and does the overseeing of the marketing needs and trims. Greaves is looking into having their own fabric printed to attain a better supply. “We have proudly maintained our Liann Bellis brand by continuing with our ethically sustainable values, giving attention to quality and detail,” explained Greaves. “Therefore we have been gratefully supported by our wonderful customers both here in New Zealand and Australia.”
As Liann Bellis is an online-only retailer and wholesaler to a wide variety of stores in New Zealand and Australia, Greaves is excited to expand on this further with the help of their sales agents Kim Hutchinson (NZ) and Marris Fotheringham (AUS).