Designer Focus: Teiria Studios

New Zealand emerging designer, Rangimarie Elvin, the mastermind behind Teiria Studios. Teiria Studios has become something more than just a fashion label. It has also been Elvin’s kaupapa (aim/purpose) to celebrate being Māori and fight for Māori.

Videography by Grayson Straker 

Teiria Studios came about during Elvin’s years at AUT, with the Instagram page acting as a dumping ground for all her design work. However, now that she’s graduated, it has become a platform for her to promote her work and sharing her message of decolonising Māori design and celebrating its development into modern-day society. 

“In my heart, I am a storyteller. We as Māori have always told our stories through textiles, art and clothing. I thought, if I am able to use my skills in creating, designing and sewing, to help extend the life of our culture and tell our stories, then Teiria Studios would be a perfect platform to do that,” said Elvin. 

Teiria is Elvin’s middle name - pronounced “tay-ree-a”, after her great-grandmother. It translates to “dahlia”, a flower. 

“I used this name as it is representative of me and holds the idea of whānaungatanga (family ties) in the forefront of my brand.” 

The team at Teiria Studios is small. Elvin is the sole designer whilst also being in charge of marketing, social media and construction. For certain projects, Elvin would outsource individuals or companies to create her garments. For example, her knitwear pieces are accredited to knit technicians, Gordon Fraser and Jyoti Kalynji from the AUT Textile Design Lab as well as assistance from Sharon Evans-Mikellis and Melissa Albom. 

“I would love to venture out and get other people involved within my company too, because whether I like it or not, I can’t do it all by myself.”

Elvin hopes to hire creatives or even whānau into the mix to help. 

“I’m just lucky that I have major support from my local community and the Māori community to help share my story and brand message out there. My brand thrives on inclusivity and connectivity, so it wouldn’t work and my message wouldn’t be heard without everyone’s support.”

Being a recent graduate, Elvin is just starting to get into the business side of Teiria Studios. Currently, you can order or enquire straight to their Instagram (@teiriastudios). So far, Elvin has been creating made to order pieces as well as selling some of her standard designs at her local markets. 

Elvin’s recent graduate collection is called Hei Maumaharatanga, which translates to ‘in memory’. This collection highlights Māori textiles and culture, with historical military references from the 1860 New Zealand land wars - with particular emphasis on the Battle at Pukehinahina in 1864. 

“I have used the idea of learning from kākahu (clothing) to educate ourselves about the raw history of New Zealand.”

This collection originally stemmed from a political point-of-view and frustration. However, it has now developed into a memorial of all the hardships the Māori community has had to endure over time. 

“Nostalgic and historical at its core, it is a sort of love-letter to my culture and remembrance for those who came before me, my tupuna (ancestors). We wouldn’t be here without them, they went through all they went through for us and the future of Māori. Our generation couldn’t even fathom doing half of the things they had to do, so this collection is the start of my many ‘thank yous’  to come.”

The functions and silhouettes of the garments within this collection were all incredibly well-considered. However, the highlight of this collection is ultimately the use of various textiles. 

“Using heavy-weight fabrics like denim and drill that were hard-wearing are reminiscent of the European military pieces I was referencing, I also wanted to reapproach the way we see traditional Māori textiles and traditional Māori raranga (weaving).”

Elvin has studied Māori weavers in action and wanted to create a knitwear piece that resembled the way harakeke (flax) was weaved in Māori cloaks, baskets and more. 

“This included ‘memory-marking’ the texture and feel of it, and the visual look of it, but not exact replicas. I wanted to take back our craft and values in the face of colonisation, which is where this collection stemmed from.”

Particular pieces like the Waitohu knits are reminiscent of the base of some cloaks, the Taipari knit, named after one of Elvin’s chiefly tupuna (ancestors), is reminiscent of some kete, and the Mcleod/Makarauri knit jumper, incorporates Elvin’s Scottish heritage by reworking the Mcleod tartan to create a textile that faintly resembles a unique korowai cloak. 

Within this collection, Elvin has put immense thought into the finer details. For example, the stitching method she uses is called ‘koru stitching’ - this has been incorporated into the seams and construction of the garments. 

“Normally in Māoriinspired clothing, the use of koru pattern is typically on the forefront of a garment, which can be beautiful, but I have decided to take a different approach, and make subtle but considered references of the well-known koru pattern.”

“I hope that through my fashion, people will be inspired to learn more about the stories behind the clothing and learn more about Māori culture.”