(The problem with) New Zealand Fashion Week

Dear front-rowers,

Here in Auckland we’re still on the come down from New Zealand Fashion Week, although for many (including myself), the high wasn’t nearly as euphoric as previous years.

This discontent is the same that arises every year, and that makes fashion types want to blow their brains out: What benefit do designers get out of showing at NZFW? Will the week have a long and prosperous future in New Zealand? And, with the increasing size of public events, what role does the trade event even play at NZFW? Etc, etc.

But an article by Cathy Horyn in the New York Times got me thinking about the nature of fashion week. Written during New York Fashion Week, the writer commented how disaffection among people who attended shows was killing off customers and readers.

While the debate comes from different ends; where New Yorkers complain of overflowing shows with celebrities, bloggers, media and more or less anyone wearing Isabel Marant sneakers, New Zealand’s event can’t fill the first two rows come day three.

It’s the same juxtaposition for designers; in the mighty US, people complain there are too many shows. In wee Auckland, the debate rages on whether next year’s event will muster enough (good) designers to fill three days.

It surprised to me hear that there was such negativity in New York, a kind of industry bitterness I had reserved only for our homegrown show. If people complain about events with 200 or 20 shows, maybe it says something more about the people attending than worthiness.

This point was reaffirmed on reading reviews by international media who attended fashion week in Auckland, who I suppose saw the event with fresh eyes and less negativity.

Vice writer Annette Lamothe-Ramos raved about the Stolen Girlfriends Club show, saying she’d wear all the clothes in a heartbeat.

Likewise, “a bajillion times cooler than NYFW” was how Alex Catarinella of Seen Heard Known described New Zealand’s humble showing, raving about Salasai (deservedly) and “fun goth” designer Jimmy D.

And, of course, they are 100% correct in their opinions. New Zealand’s fashion designers are BLOODY BRILLIANT. But will the industry’s own bitterness inevitably cause the demise of NZFW? Then we’ll really have something to complain about. After all, an environment that is encouraged to thrive knows less limits than one constantly complained about.

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