Call for fashion designers to abandon 'Made in NZ' as local industry struggles

There are calls for local fashion designers to give up on the idea of "New Zealand made" after 2018 proved to be a challenging year for the country's fashion industry, with some top designers packing up shop. 

Designers here are struggling to keep the Made in New Zealand label a reality.

"I think it's an incredibly sad space to be occupying at the moment. We're looking down the gunnels of not a lot of us left," fashion designer Annah Stretton told 1 NEWS. 

Kristine Crabb recently announced she's closing down her "Miss Crabb" label. 

"I just kind of woke up one morning in October, and I was like, 'I don't want to do this anymore'," she said.

And she's not alone. In recent times, fashion designer Andrea Moore has gone out of business and shoemaker Minnie Cooper has called it a day.

Ms Crabb said: "I think maybe the last couple of years I've felt a little bit under pressure creatively." 

After 15 years in the industry, it's a struggle competing with the big importers.

"The industry is shrinking every year, so that makes it quite hard," she said. 

Fashion brand World courted controversy for selling t-shirts with a "Made in New Zealand" tag, when the garment itself was manufactured in Bangladesh.  

One radical solution is to abandon "Made in New Zealand" altogether. 

"I don't know if we want to focus on the Made in New Zealand thing as there's so much of the components that go into garments that we're actually going to need to source offshore," Ms Stretton said. 

But having a uniquely New Zealand point of view could be the answer, according to Margo Barton of Otago Polytechnic.

"We have to encourage our designers to create something different, something handmade, preferably with some individual stamp on them that is going to last a long time," she said.

Graduates don't come in with dreams of owning a multi-million dollar business anymore.

"Many designers want to really concentrate on having a business that they can live off," Ms Barton said.

Margo Barton is confident for the future of fashion. 

For Kristine Crabb though, her future in fashion is on hold.

"I just want to wind this up and have a break," she said. 

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Now there are calls to abandon manufacturing garments here altogether. Source: 1 NEWS