Jacob Coutie, Massey University

Originally from the Waikato, Jacob Coutie is based in Wellington for the past four years while studying at Massey University. His brand is currently working under the name Kuti, which is te reo Māori and translates to ‘to sheet apart’. “It’s also a small pun as my last name is Coutie and is pronounced the same way,” he said.

Coutie explained that he has forgotten how he got into fashion, but simply remembers being inspired by video game characters and found himself appreciating someone who uses dress as a form of identity.

Eight looks from his Toa collection were featured at New Zealand Fashion Week in the Miramoda show. “They are an amazing crew, and it was a privilege to show my work under their name.” This collection is about heroism, bravery, and finding strength and balance. “I used a lot of soft linens and silks against some heavy bull denim, creating quite a contrast.”

Lela Jacobs took Coutie under her wing for a couple of weeks in April to do some interning. He also helped Jacobs at fashion week. “It was an incredible experience, she’s so friendly and engaging with people she works with.”

Fascinated with certain cultures and occupations that require a particular type of dress, Coutie is inspired by garments that embed what you do or believe. While at Massey, Coutie said the most important thing he learned was to practice what you preach. He added that sewing is an invaluable skill to have. “I think once you’ve reached a certain skill in sewing, it can be very liberating. You start to understand that anything is possible with fabric, scissors and a machine.”