New hands at The Pattern Table

Iconic Mount Eden garment manufacturer The Pattern Table has a new owner in the form of designer and pattern maker Rachel Mills. Mills has long been a staple of the New Zealand fashion scene, and decided to purchase The Pattern Table to help deal with her burgeoning clientele. “For the past six months, my pattern making client list had just been growing and growing,” she told Apparel. “If I’d continued as I was going, it would have taken about three years to get to the same place I could get to by purchasing The Pattern Table.”

Mills had recently brought on a junior pattern maker to assist her when the opportunity arose to purchase The Pattern Table. The experience reminded her of a five-year stint at the beginning of her career in the Karen Walker sampling room, working with a multi-talented team. “I always wanted to be able to expand into that kind of set-up, as a way to share and nurture skills, but I knew it would be a long game to build up from nothing.” When The Pattern Table went up for sale, Mills mulled it over for some time. “I didn’t take it too seriously in the beginning, then the idea really grew on me,” she explained. “He put me forward to be considered and after some meetings and discussions, I quickly realised it had everything I needed to expand my business quickly.”

Skilled machinists are few and far between, so The Pattern Table presented a unique and timely opportunity for expansion. Upon realising what a golden opportunity The Pattern Table presented for her brand, Mills leapt at the chance to return to a collaborative workplace in a leadership position. “Being such a seasonal industry, I kind of needed all or nothing. The Pattern Table came with staff, machines, and existing work that I could combine with my own.”

The Pattern Table consists of a small and highly efficient team of seven, some of whom have worked at the company for over 20 years. With two full-time and machinists as well as one part-timer, Mills is able to ramp up production without compromising on the commitment to quality she is renowned for. But that doesn’t mean that she’ll simply be sliding into the shoes of the outgoing owners. “In the past, the business had more of a focus on sportswear and uniforms. I want to shift this more towards servicing the fashion industry, as this is where my fulfilment and contacts come from,” Mills explained. “Most of what we are offering will still remain the same, but with a bigger focus on pattern making.”

For now, The Pattern Table will focus on sampling, the process Mills has the most hands-on experience with. “This is where I want to focus, because there will always be a demand for local sampling.” Looking ahead, Mills is hopeful that The Pattern Table will expand into production, but the facility currently sits in a middle-ground between individual producers and larger fashion houses with significantly greater capacity. “At the moment, we’re competing with individual outworkers who have little to no overheads,” she explained. “But the more we expand and bring other machinists on board, the more we will be able to service the local industry.”

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