TODAY |

New Zealand's fashion industry screaming out for skilled workers

Leaders in New Zealand’s fashion industry want to create more jobs on home soil, but say they’re facing a serious skills shortage behind the scenes.

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With the renewed focus on NZ-made, fashionistas are feeling expansive. Source: Seven Sharp

They say the country is lacking in skilled machinists, pattern makers, knitters, embroiderers and the like.

But, there’s plenty of work to go around.

Rachel Mills of The Pattern Table says right now “they’re flat out” with their workload.

“And we're booked out for the next month and a half I think,” says Ms Mills.

“I think there is right now a really big opportunity with local manufacturing in that there's not that many of us out there so the ones who are, we really have the potential to grow, and improve on what we're doing, and there is a demand for it at the moment.”

Ms Mills says there's not that many people being trained to be machinists, pattern makers or trained to do the really nitty gritty side of the industry.

Which is where Love Local comes in.

Kiwi fashion icon Kate Sylvester is part of Love Local, a fundraising campaign aimed at raising money for the industry’s makers and craftspeople, everyone who makes clothing in New Zealand.

The campaign is launching a raft of programmes aimed at getting more people into the manufacturing side of fashion.

“We’re raising money for our makers, all the craftspeople, the machinists, the embroiderers, the knitters, all the people who make our clothes here in New Zealand. They’re an amazing bunch but there aren’t many of them and they’re also rather old,” says Ms Sylvester.

“We have a raft of programmes that we’re launching out of Love Local but our big project is we need a certified apprenticeship programme for our industry and training pathways to create jobs and upskill young people to bring them onboard.”

She says the aim of the game is to have a “thriving industry” within five years, with experienced craftspeople training up the next tier.

“We want to see mothballed knitting mills and textile mills reopening. We want to see all the Government contract uniforms coming back, being manufactured in New Zealand. We want New Zealand to be a world leader, we want to be innovative, full circle and sustainable.”