Fashion School takes leadership-gong at annual awards

While fashion eyes were on the design-forward garments strutting the runways at New Zealand Fashion Week last week, tertiary education eyes were on a leading fashion institute who is teaching young New Zealanders how to create them.



NZ Fashion Tech’s Graduate Show in 2012


Applied fashion design and technology programmes delivered by NZ Fashion Tech in Auckland and Wellington, have taken centre-stage at the New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers (NZAPEP) annual awards in Wellington last night, with NZ Fashion Tech taking out the Southern Cross Travel Insurance Leadership Award, after winning the Cengage Provider of the Year Award in 2011.


It is rare in the NZAPEP Awards for a provider to win two top awards inside three years.

NZ Fashion Tech’s business model is believed to be unique within the sector. While other providers deliver fashion programmes within other degrees, NZ Fashion Tech offers fashion programmes exclusively, with emphasis on preparing graduates for a design-led fashion industry.


The award was accepted by both directors – Managing Director Kevin Smith,

Academic Director Val Marshall


In its TEC Educational Performance Indicators, NZ Fashion Tech reports that 86% of graduates “successfully find employment in the industry or go onto further study and then into employment.” 

NZ Fashion Tech has been part of two innovative partnerships which helped “enhance learning” and “bring reality to the theory”:  the annual Red Cross Upcycling Challenge and the Kleenex® Cottonelle® Brand Paper Dress collaboration which has just completed its fourth year.

The winning entry for the leadership award was supported by Steven Colligan Director of Emovare who said: “Kevin and Val engage their team, the industry and other stakeholders in a respectful and commanding manner whilst maintaining empathy and connection. They set the strategy and vision then entrust the team to deliver, creating a culture of ownership.”

NZ Fashion Tech tutors Miriam Gibson, Doula Matheos, Verena Tilson-Scobie and Shona Ward wrote:  “The culture that Kevin Smith and Val Marshall-Smith have created at NZ Fashion Tech fuses the warmth and personality of a family business with the structure and rigour of an educational institute at the top of its field.”


Work from NZ Fashion Tech’s Graduate Show in 2012

Val Marshall-Smith says: “It’s a huge honour to be recognised among our peers. As the fashion industry expands its export horizons and moves some production off-shore, the demand locally for broadly based, highly tuned skills to create world-beating collections increases.”

Kevin Smith speaks about the benefits of one of the collaborations: “Since 2009, the Kleenex® Cottonelle® Brand Paper Dress partnership has extended our Diploma students’ awareness of the realities of receiving and responding to a commission brief from a client. The brief asks them to create a dress which showcases the qualities of the client’s premium quality toilet paper – softness and strength – while also bringing the uniquely-rippled fabric to life.” 

“By participating in this collaborative project our NZ Fashion Tech Diploma students experience the fashion world first-hand, helping them to make more-informed career choices and offer a wider range of skills.”

Meanwhile, students from NZ Fashion Tech are back-stage volunteers at 2013’s New Zealand Fashion Week. The award-winning directors are missing the week’s catwalk shows, but are satisfied they are helping ensure New Zealand’s talent-bank of future fashion designers continues to be of the highest standard.


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