AURAI SWIMWEAR is an eco and ethical swimwear brand created by Italo-Brazilian designer Natalia Bertolo. The brand advocates for transparency in the supply chain, the use of clean technologies for better products, fair wages and corporate social responsibility. AURAI SWIMWEAR is handmade by amazingly talented women in a family-run atelier in Bertolo's hometown in southern Brazil, using only recycled and biodegradable materials, water-free printing techniques and nickel and chrome-free trims.
Last year, the brand debuted at NZFW with a vibrant collection that introduced one of the first ranges of biodegradable swimwear in the world, made with an enhanced polyamide 6.6 formula, which enables garments to quickly decompose when they are discarded and left in an anaerobic environment, such as landfills. Moreover, most of the tops were converted into mastectomy-friendly designs, to offer a more stylish option for women touched by breast cancer.
For their SS19/20 collection, the brand is tackling another problem within the fashion industry: circularity. Even with a small production, after three collections the number of fabric leftovers was becoming an issue, so Bertolo decided to create new swimwear with modular patterns to be able to use even the smallest pieces of fabric. Also, Bertolo partnered with her friend Bruna Pastuk in the creation of a capsule collection of upcycled resort wear linen pieces, also deadstock and cut samples from local factories. The collection was cleverly named "Catch 22" to convey the challenges they encountered during their creative process, which started with the fabrics and not with the designs as per usual.
Greatest Friend is a vintage atelier who has been selling direct to the public, as well as providing designers with inspiration, and buying for wardrobe and stylists since inception in 2010. Re-established in 2018 with a move home to New Zealand after 17 years in America, Greatest Friend has been the business of Angela Winter Means since 2010, and now includes not only vintage clothing and homewares, but also the useful offerings of thoughtful makers, so the brand can support and share the work of our community.
Each season sees a new line released by Greatest Friend, which consists of a few pieces made from found fabrics. However, Angela spends a lot of her time curating natural fibre, pre-existing garments and vintage to help people shop zero-waste. Greatest Friend consistently stands for lessening our collective carbon footprint whilst still being dressed in impeccable style and thoughtfulness.
Pre-requisite is given to the quality of workmanship, the stories behind the makers and designers and the relativity today in what’s interesting, required and available to us. With a vast background in music production — having worked as a tour manager and booking agent with experimental, heavy and psychedelic artists from Japan, Europe, America and New Zealand — you'll naturally feel threads of these cultural impacts resonating here.
As one of only 20 vintage sellers originally featured on the platform Etsy, Greatest Friend was a first at presenting curated collections in 2007. The drive to sell vintage came about after researching to begin a clothing line and finding that it would be more environmentally friendly — and fun — to use what was already here.
The Greatest Friend collections are timeless, class, and here to support the purchases of local designers.
NOPESISTERS Clothing is a social enterprise fashion business, established just over two years ago by two Wellington 20-something sisters, Johanna and Brittany Cosgrove. With no fashion or business experience, they launched their simple activist clothing idea, which has now grown into an award-winning social enterprise. Soon, the sisters found a simple clothing design could quickly spread awareness of global and local issues, and help influence society for the better.
“We found a way, through fashion and art, to say ‘NOPE’ to things we wanted to change,” says Brittany.
“Message T-shirts are nothing new, but when you create a following of fans who wear, share and open up important conversations about why they are wearing something, slowly things can change,” says Johanna.
Sustainably and ethically created, everyday casual wear, and now totally recycled and upcycled clothing is sold through their online platform, using a profit-share model, which has now shared over $13,000 with social agencies.
Each boldly embroidered garment has a matching charity, and carries a simple word or logo designed to initiate important conversations. The issues that these unique designs have tackled so far include breast cancer awareness, sexual consent, period poverty, youth suicide, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and environmental waste.
Sustainability has been part of the operation since the beginning. The sisters source 100 per cent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic T-shirts from ethically A-rated manufacturers supplying New Zealand company AS Colour.
The sisters have always tried to do better for the environment, and maintain a sustainable fashion business, which also positively impacts the environment. That’s why their most recent design, Mother Earth, shares profits with Sustainable Coastlines, whose beach clean-up, tree planting and educational programmes create new generations of eco-warriors. The sisters believe we have to act yesterday, not just now, by buying less, recycling, upcycling and being conscious consumers.
Garments are embroidered on a custom-made basis by local embroidery company A1 Apparel in Petone, Wellington. There is no waste, no stock sitting around, we only make what the customer needs. This has only been possible with huge support from their local embroidery workshop, who were able to digitally translate the sisters’ first hand-embroidered designs.
You’ll also find a few of the NOPESISTERS designs worn on the neuro-diverse or differently abled models in the special Dance For Abilities Show.
The Whitecliffe BFA Fashion and Sustainability programme has a strong focus on ethical and sustainable practices. Throughout their four years of study, students develop sustainable design thinking and rigorous practices to produce carefully considered and innovative collections. Whitecliffe students are given the opportunity to employ sustainable practices, including high standards of industry methodologies, investigation into their value chains, natural dyeing and highly crafted designs, to address contemporary concerns within the industry and to become innovators and specialists in a sustainable fashion industry. Here's a bit about each of the designers showcasing from Whitecliffe College.
Bianca Lim-Yip is currently completing her BFA at Whitecliffe College majoring in Fashion and Sustainability. Since a young age, she found creativity to be a mode for self-expression, enabling personal development and building knowledge in the sustainable fashion ﬁeld.
Her 2020 collection, titled B.Y.E, is a form of self-reﬂection and preparation regarding her next impending life chapter after graduation. Drawing on ideas around spatial concepts and uniformity, this collection philosophically explores her two opposing mindsets surrounding the fears and excitement for the future.
In keeping with her values, she has continued to develop sustainable practice within the making of B.Y.E. Deadstock fabrics, natural ﬁbres, eco-friendly dyeing, fabric scraps, discarded plastic pipes and tussah silk fusing are examples. She feels a responsibility as part of the ‘new generation’ to operate sustainably and provoke productive discussions around the industry’s ethics, particularly highlighting issues concerning the treatment toward our ecosystem and value chain. Ideas of reutilisation, transparency and longevity are conceptualised to embody her core design principles of self-expression, high-quality crafted garments and sustainability. She is grateful to be a part of New Zealand Fashion Week’s sustainability show, being a representative among many other talented creators deﬁning sustainable design.
Thomas Munday is a student currently completing his fourth year at Whitecliffe College of Fashion and Sustainability. His practice always stems from emotion and reflection.
Over his four years of study, he has had a journey of many ups and downs, of which he likes to control with creativity and design, drawing inspiration and drive from his world and all its disorder. However, he doesn’t like to take anything too seriously and relies on finding the humour in all situations, which is something else always brought into his practice.
This year, Munday’s collection, 56 - A Self-Supporting Squirrel Cage, is a collection rooted in irony, satire and subversion. It attempts to poke a stick in the eye of the monster holding the 21st century in capitalism, while also “hopefully giving everyone a good frightful laugh”. He has worked to design a collection of clothing with a narrative based in a dystopia, brought on by either World War, climate change or class revolution. "Personally, I hope it’s the latter," he says. The characters in this collection are the remnants of the upper class who can not relinquish their symbols of dominance. So, they create outfits out of the leftovers that consumerism and capitalism have destroyed the world with. To give this collection its ironic twist, Thomas utilised upcycling and natural dyeing, while also following a very strict ethical supply chain.
He hopes his collection provokes a discourse, one opposing those who hold the fashion system in a capitalist format, while elevating awareness of ecology and the need for sustainable business practices. This collection is a warning of what the capitalist world could become.
Harriet Lewis' NZFW collection Now That I have Seen has come from a journey of research and self-critique to put in place the key foundations to build Olivia Lewis. Rooted deeply within theory and texts such as the Gaia theory, social capital and the indigenous world view, designer Harriet Lewis took a bigger picture approach to recognize the potential harmful cycles of the garments she creates, their impacts on wider society and the measures she can take to minimise them.
She chose to explore something in-depth at the very beginning stages of her design process: fabrics. Consequently, the focus of this collection became largely on the fabrics she used. Doing so had her paying close attention to where they came from, how she could utilise their features and functions and what she could do to prolong their post-consumer life. Fabrics in this collection include organic wool, naturally dyed organic cotton and deadstock, all of which are sourced through an ethical and transparent supply chain. Exploration of fabric manipulation is paired with classic silhouettes, versatile colours and well-practiced sewing techniques to create visually interesting ready-to-wear garments that are durable, functional and will be worn over a long period of time.
To Lewis, showcasing this collection to the New Zealand market means creating that bridge between the theory and all the ideas of sustainability that she explored through this collection, to a tangible consumer market.
Yuexue Wang’s trans-seasonal collection, Mo, is a statement of fashion as communication between oriental art and Western art. Her aim is to introduce traditional Chinese art to people who are not familiar with it, through her collection, which fuses art, calligraphy and fashion, in order to preserve and protect this very beautiful heritage. She has worked with traditional Chinese landscape painter Fushun Wang to show people the look of traditional Chinese art and how they are presented with the art of clothing. In this collection, Wang has hand-painted on every piece of clothing without using hard techniques and environmentally damaging materials.
As a brand that cares about traditional culture, Y.Wang creates designs that are influenced by a combination of oriental elements and modern art forms. She uses lots of simple colours, simple fabrics and silhouettes inspired by minimalism, in order to not make the designs over-traditional. She has noticed that in recent years the influence of oriental elements in fashion design across a lot of brands has been increasing. Her aim is to preserve traditional art and exhibit to audience and buyers in creative ways.
herriot is a one-woman operation – and that’s the way designer Bron Eichbaum would like it to stay. Although it probably really should be herriot and associates, as Eichbaum is surrounded by an incredible group of friends and family that encourage, inspire and believe in what she is doing.
“It’s not about growing into a mass-market brand. For me, it’s about enjoying the journey and keeping it manageable. My personal philosophy for the brand is about going to the beat of my own drum. For me, this equates to two things: sustainability and sanity,” she explains.
herriot is designed and made in New Zealand using local production and craftspeople. It's all about small runs and sustainability, herriot is the opposite of fast fashion.
The approach is to create understated, high-quality pieces that are contemporary and long-lasting. The label uses end-of-line fabrics wherever possible, giving beautiful generic fabrics a new lease on life, rather than being classified as ‘past season’. This is also true with pieces of any herriot capsule collection.
The label doesn't follow the standard pattern of seasonal launches, choosing instead to release small capsule collections when you least expect it. Garments will often be modified and reinvented rather than being tossed aside at the end of a season.
herriot is humbled to be showing as part of the Sustainability Show at NZFW this year. “This is a time to be proud of what I do, and of course hopefully pick up another one or two stockists in New Zealand,” she says.
In an exciting announcement for the label, Birkenstock will be supplying footwear for this show.
The Sustainability Show will be held in Auckland on 31 August 2019. Get your tickets now