Sophie Parsons, Massey University

Sophie Parsons grew up on an orchard in Hawkes Bay where her dad would work tirelessly. Parsons explained that watching him wake up at 4 am every day to manage the orchard taught her to work hard to get what you what. Now in Wellington studying textile design at Massey University, Parsons loves the rich culture and design of Wellington.

Currently designing pieces for herself and competitions, Parsons hopes to start her own brand soon. “But for now, I just love being able to make whatever I want to without having to try to impress others. This keeps me very creative,” she explained. One day she would like to open her own store, but for now, social media is a great platform to utilise. At university, many students around her have started their own business through social media.

Parsons loves deconstructing items or garments and remaking them. At high school, her interest in fashion construction and design bloomed because her teacher, Kirsten Le Bon, inspired her with an admiration for materials and the ability to create.

Heavily influenced by her family and the environment, Parsons explained that her family had taught her to work hard and to do what she is passionate about. “I think the environment has so much beauty to be able to inspire designers to express ourselves. If I’m ever stuck for ideas, I take a sketch book and a pen and walk around wherever I see trees.”

Rick Owens was one of the first designers that made her stop and say ‘WOW’. Even though his style isn’t the same as Parsons, he made her realise how versatile design is. Owens allowed Parsons to see another side of fashion and that spatial, furniture, object, material and video were all areas of design.

Parsons believes that sewing is an invaluable skill and that learning technology at school is crucial. “I like using laser cutters, sonic welders and any machine, not just the traditional ones.”

Now in her first year of university, Parsons admitted she is still very inexperienced and has a lot to learn. At New Zealand Fashion Week last year, Parsons presented a silk jumpsuit and a woollen jacket as part of the Brother Design Stars Awards. “I loved being able to work with wool, and the final jacket left me inspired to make woollen wall hangings and more,” she said. Parsons used wool as she finds it to be a very striking material, but living in New Zealand, you see wool everywhere. She added that there isn’t enough credit given to the properties and characteristics of wool and she wanted to show how versatile it is. Always trying to use natural materials, Parsons likes to use silk and wool as they are suited to the skin and have great properties and aesthetic. Parsons walked away as the winner of the Brother Design Star award of 2016 during NZFW. “I was so surprised,” she said. “The opportunity to be at New Zealand Fashion Week was the best prize I could’ve asked for. I met some inspirational NZ designers and was able to show my designs on the runway at The Graduate Show supported by Brother alongside some of the top university graduates across NZ who encouraged me to carry on with my studies in design.”

The biggest challenge for Parsons is to be able to keep up with technology. To be able to create and design new materials through 3D printing, laser cutting, and evolving technology is exciting for her and functionally is beneficial to the consumer. “It’s something I really enjoy.”

Moving deeper into the industry, Parsons said she is lucky to have access to these experiences and is going to make the most of everything. “I don’t know where I’ll end up or what I want to do, but I just keep doing what I enjoy one day at a time. The world is my oyster.”