April Gourdie, AUT

April Gourdie started her Bachelor of Design majoring in Textiles at Massey University in Wellington and moved to AUT in Auckland for her final year. Gourdie is a big believer in self-expression through clothing. This year she fell in love with the Shima Seiki digital knitting machines and found that learning how to use new technology is incredibly important in maintaining innovation and setting yourself apart from others on more than just an aesthetic level.

“I love collecting things that remind me of my childhood,” said Gourdie. “Playing dress ups was a big part of my childhood, and I spent a lot of my time making clothing for my toys.” This translated into Gourdie wanting to encourage people to express themselves in what they put on their body. Gourdie chose textiles because it was the perfect mixture of art and fashion. “I have always seen textiles with a view to incorporate fashion and other applications for the body.”

Showcasing five looks at the AUT Rookie show, Gourdie was happy she managed to make some accessories such as handbags, earrings, glasses to push her collection that bit further. “It also meant I just got to have some fun towards the end and really complete my looks in a very playful way.” Toying with the concept of escapism, Gourdie explored nostalgia and digital immersion for her end of year collection. Using a stimulating colour palette and quirky child-like doodles, she created another world that encouraged her audience’s imagination to wander. “I designed, programmed and knitted the garments myself. I loved having total freedom to create the textiles as it allowed me to play around with pattern placement and colour blocking.”

Rei Kawakubo, Jeremy Scott, Moschino, Camille Walala, Atelier Bingo and Daniel Pallilo are just a few of the designers who inspired Gourdie to jump into the fashion industry. “I like to embrace the sense of not growing up. I love artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat. If I get lost for inspiration I document colours and textures in my immediate daily environments,” she added. Gourdie is also very interested in digitalisation in society and human interaction with technology, exploring how people now live in multiple realities and dimensions.

Gourdie interned at Stand Issue, Sabatini, Hawes and Freer, Juliette Hogan, and James Dunlop Textiles. “I have learned an incredible amount from interning, as it is a completely different type of knowledge compared to what you are exposed to at university,” she said. Her most significant challenge moving into the industry is maintaining a point of difference. Gourdie believes technology is an avenue for endless new possibilities regarding what one can create. Something she has also been trying to navigate recently is the balance between unrestricted creative license and commercial consideration, and what this means in the role of the designer in the industry. Already, Gourdie has a strong social media presence which is an easy and effective platform for self-promotion. Showcasing her designs in runway shows and competitions in New Zealand and overseas are great for exposure as well.

Now moving further into her career in the fashion industry, Gourdie wants to absorb as much knowledge as possible. “I would love to start my own brand, but I also know I need experience in the industry to understand where I need to place myself and why. I think knitwear is hugely untouched and under-considered and I would love to be able to pursue this in a creative and commercial capacity.”