Margarita Robertson, NOM*d

"My business life in the fashion industry began in 1975. That year my husband Chris and I opened our first store, Hang Ups Boutique in Dunedin. It was established as an indulgence for me to explore, purchase and sell fashion that was not mainstream. I sourced brands that were not readily available in Dunedin, true boutique style brands Made in New Zealand.

Fast track to 2015, 40 years later, my business and fashion life has changed dramatically, apart from the fact that we still have a store in Dunedin and I still explore, wear and sell fashion that is not mainstream!

We sell our own brand which is made in New Zealand alongside internationally recognised brands that are produced out of Italy, France or Japan. The industry has changed so much over those years, we now live in a fast paced fashion world, with the decrease in import duties and the advance of technology and communication, fashion is a global and instant commodity.

We can see exactly what is going on in larger fashion capitals in seconds, we are constantly reminded about who is wearing what, and everybody has access to cheap fast fashion. This is what mega chainstores and the internet have given us.

The other significant change in our world here in New Zealand is the demise of locally made product. When we first started manufacturing NOM*d in 1986 there was a huge choice of what factories we could work with to produce our brand. In the thirty years hence 70% of the CMT factories have had to close down, largely and almost exclusively due to products being made cheaply in the East and the New Zealand industry not being able to compete with pricing.

The industry has suffered greatly in the fact that technicians and machinists have not been given the status they deserve here in New Zealand, so students coming through design schools are only interested in becoming ‘designers’ as opposed to other really important sectors in the industry, including construction and garment technology.

On a good note, I see that some institutions are now offering fashion courses that major in business studies and media communications within the fashion industry. This is a great move forward. This is an area that can grow significantly in New Zealand.

Whether the presence of CMTs in New Zealand continues into the future is debatable. It would be wonderful if the education sector and the government could sort out a process to re-establish the manufacturing industry here.

Luckily there are a limited number of designers and retailers who are still interested in giving consumers clothes that will become iconic, clothes that stand the test of time and have interesting stories to tell and will be lovingly passed down to future generations. And fortunately a discerning group of New Zealanders love and respect these ideals and luckily they are our customers, shopping happily at stores such as Plume and NOM*d."