NZFW17 Designer Showcase: FRENCH83

Before migrating to New Zealand, Peter Cheng had a strong family background in fashion in his home country of Hong Kong. FRENCH83 was born when Cheng teamed up with Justin De Lille in 2010, and the entrepreneurial pair discovered a gap in the market for affordable, high-quality, bespoke suits. Starting a fashion label came with inevitable difficulties, but Cheng and De Lille persevered and made it through the first few years - a challenge for any small start-up business. After De Lille left the brand in 2012, Cheng restructured for a fresh start, and his wife and sister decided to join the company, giving him much needed support. Since then, FRENCH83 has grown significantly and has branched out from made-to-measure, into creating collections. Thus far, FRENCH83 has released seven collections mixing formal and casual menswear, as well as retaining their bespoke capabilities. In addition to growing his business, Cheng has also innovated the typical design business model. Instead of working with a sole designer, Cheng works with various talented designers. In total, FRENCH83 is made up of four permanent team-members.

Cheng’s stockists are also innovative. With two of their own retail stores in Auckland and one in Beijing, FRENCH83 has a traditional bricks-and-mortar presence which complements their online offering. High-end stockists have also been a successful route for Cheng, with Harvey Nichols Hong Kong, MyMM and - China’s largest fashion e-commerce platform - as key stockists. In the Chinese market, in-App purchase has been emerging as a growing trend for e-tailers, and FRENCH83 has expanded into this area via the MyMM app. Next on Cheng’s agenda is expansion into US, European, and Australian markets, with stockists who will complement the high-end nature of FRENCH83’s collections.

FRENCH83 are no strangers to New Zealand Fashion Week; this is their third time at NZFW, where Cheng loves showing the brand and promoting New Zealand design to a local and international audience. In 2017 FRENCH83 will be showing two collections; ‘Anderson’, a Spring/Summer 2018 collection, and ‘Elliot’, an Autumn/Winter 2018 collection. ‘Anderson’ is inspired by the film of Wes Anderson, furniture designs by Jens Risom and tennis stylings in the 1970s. ‘Elliot’ is inspired by the film Billy Elliot; both the utilitarian 1980s aesthetic and the film's exploration of the dichotomy of masculinity and femininity. Underlying both of FRENCH83’s collections will be a strong story and impeccable suiting details.