Innovation could be said to belong most comfortably to the vernacular of the young—those who have yet to settle into routine and have the luxury of taking bigger risks with fewer consequences, especially when it comes to creative pursuits.
Fashion provides a form of expression and is an outlet for designers who have something to say about the world around them.
iD Fashion Week in Dunedin has been supporting young designers on an international platform for just over a decade, giving them a chance to win prizes and have their collections presented on the iD runway.
I was truly inspired by the level of talent in the International Emerging Designer Awards, not in the least, because I’ve been revisiting interview material which has culminated in a 30-minute radio documentary (below).
I enjoyed seeing the craftsmanship and getting up-close and personal with the garments.
The energy backstage during judging day was filled with nervousness and excitement and it was fascinating to watch the Shanghai models who were involved in an exchange programme via Otago Polytechnic’s Fashion department.
Each designer had a unique aesthetic, but also an individualistic approach to their creative process and the way they wish to forge their careers in fashion.
Tia Feng’s work (above) takes the idea of a girl shifting between universes. The charismatic Auckland designer says she is looking forward to pursuing further study overseas and has recently gained valuable experience interning for San Fransisco native Peter Som and U.S-based luxury label, Rodarte. “I might pursue an opportunity that I was offered at Philip Lim,” she tells me, meaning she might have to forgo further study, but working for a luxury brand wins hands-down.
Mat Lee applies feathers and statement fur as feminine accents in a collection based on the way we judge others because of our skin. He was under pressure and quite nervous, as he pressed his garments in preparation for his presentation before the panel of judges which included, Kate Sylvester and Emilia Wickstead.
“I really like designing womenswear [because] there’s not much you can do with menswear [and] I’m quite experimental.”
Mat says it is difficult for young designers to make headway in a business where manufacturing is expensive and the quantities for production are high.
“I’ll probably sell my clothes online and do custom orders,” he says of his future business plan, “I want my designs to be cheaper than designer goods, so that anyone can buy and wear my designs.”
Listen to the documentary where I head behind-the-scenes to meet the designers and get a glimpse inside iD Fashion Week where the tension runs high and everyone hopes to win the $6,000 coveted prize.
Photography: © Sonia Sly