Apparel's very own fashion editor, Caitlan Mitchell, has been passionate about supporting local since a very young age. Being in the industry has definitely allowed her to appreciate the value of supporting local New Zealand talent.
During these unprecedented times, we felt it was appropriate to sit down (through a video chat, of course) and have a chat to see why it is so important to support local, now more than ever.
Why do you support local New Zealand designers?
I first started buying solely New Zealand made and artisanal clothing when I was about 17 years old. I was learning about pattern making, and all of the odd jobs not commonly advertised about the fashion industry. Buying local pieces means I'm helping around six to eight different New Zealand businesses. Think about each person you are helping with every dollar you spend.
I do not buy into luxury brands like Gucci because there is nothing special about mass-produced 'luxury'. Look at Gucci belts for example; that trend never seems to stop, and I just don't get it. If you can make a fake of it, it was never really original in the first place. If you can find a million other people wearing it, where's the luxury in that?
When was the last time you bought a clothing item from a non-New Zealand label?
The last item I bought that wasn't from a New Zealand designer was when I was in Canada for Vancouver Fashion Week in 2018. I met a local designer from the brand Not Dead Yet – he is so lovely and his brand is striking. His show was top of the week that season and I immediately asked if I could order something. He made it and mailed it to little old me in New Zealand.
Do you think it is important to spread the message of #supportlocal at this time?
I believe it is crucial for consumers to buy now, wear later. We have to help all of these small businesses around us with cash flow. While everyone is feeling the pitch, it is imperative that when you do spend – that you support local. It is super easy for you to do, we are such a creative country overflowing with talent. Throw a rock and you'll find a local designer.
Who is your favourite New Zealand fashion designer or label?
Oh, definitely Taylor Boutique! It's incredibly well made and best of all, it's made by a lovely team of humans. Each season, they have ten Pieces which highlights essential basics reimagined to layer with their other pieces.
I wear their Extension Tanks almost daily (don't worry I have four of them and they're machine washable). Their garments transcend seasons with their sleek minimalist design, no one would know that my favourite piece is four years old! There is a lot of black paired with each season's hero hue. Last season was a bright aloe green and this season (FW20) is a crisp burnt orange. I have had a cheeky look at their forward season collections, but you will have to wait and see! Taylor also has a sister brand called Symetria which really packs a punch.
Another glorious local designer is Auckland-based, BW36.174. Operated by Blair Wheeler, BW36.174 provides a completely made-to-measure service. I have several pieces from here because of the high-end design, quality, and tailoring. Man, can this guy tailor anything! It is worth every penny to have a unique piece and you get to choose the fabrics! The world is your oyster!
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted businesses worldwide, what are some steps we, as consumers, can do to help out?
Buy local! Don't wait! Small businesses need cash flow to keep employees and keep their business alive! If you have any favourite designers that you care about, please buy something. The best gesture you can make is to buy something at full price. Every dollar counts, please support your locals and tag them in your social media. I know that every designer loves to see how you wear their pieces.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes! I am doing the #QuarantineCloset which is an outfit a day on Instagram, getting dressed every day has helped keep me sane! In this, you can find a huge array of local designers in my wardrobe if you are feeling like jumping on the #supportlocal bandwagon. It is also a great way to explore your own wardrobe and find old gems and forgotten treasures.