Adam McConnochie from Asia New Zealand Foundation (left) and designer Jason Lingard (right). Image supplied.
Five New Zealand fashion designers and entrepreneurs will be off to Thailand next month with the Asia New Zealand Foundation where they will explore the Thai fashion scene and build connections with their local counterparts. The five consists of Yu Mei founder and CEO Jessie Wong, Pania Greenaway Ltd founder and creative designer Pania Tucker, Little Yellow Bird founder and CEO Samantha Jones, Offcut founder Adrien Taylor, and Jason Lingard, who founded and designs his own eponymous label.
“Congratulations to the five young Kiwi fashion designers and entrepreneurs who have been selected to be part of this trip,” says Adam McConnochie, programme manager for leadership and entrepreneurship of the Foundation. “The delegation not only includes successful young fashion entrepreneurs but also those who are leading the way in the ethical and sustainable fashion sector in New Zealand. Asia is currently the most prosperous and most exciting region in the world. We want to connect Kiwi fashion entrepreneurs with their counterparts in the region. We want them to take advantage of the opportunities that are available there. We don’t want them to miss out.”
The trip is part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative which is managed on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with the aim of building networks between businesspeople in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. The five designers and entrepreneurs will take part in a week-long programme in Bangkok with the aim of helping them gain a better understanding of the fashion sector in Thailand and the region. The five will also travel to the silk-producing region of Isaan as well as showing their garments at a New Zealand Embassy fashion event.
“This trip is an amazing opportunity for us and we’re looking forward to bringing back more knowledge and insights that will hopefully not only benefit Little Yellow Bird but also the wider sustainable fashion sector in New Zealand,” says Samantha Jones. Her business supplies over 100 organisations in New Zealand, Australia and the USA with products made from natural and sustainable fabrics that can be traced right back to the farming level. Ethical principles are at the core of Little Yellow Bird’s business and last year they saved over seven million litres of water by choosing to use only rainfed cotton.
“I’m extremely grateful to be included in the trip,” says Offcut’s Adrien Taylor. “As a start-up founder, it can be hard to get the initial traction and connections to the people that matter in your industry. Trips like this one facilitated by the Foundation are incredibly valuable.”
Taylor founded his company after a 2015 visit to his father’s curtain warehouse in Christchurch where he saw a room full of discarded pieces of brand new fabric. After learning that the company sent them to landfill, he decided to repurpose them into hats and caps which is the focus of his business and reduces waste.
The Asia New Zealand Foundation is the leading non-profit, non-partisan organisation focused on New Zealand-Asia relations. Find out more about the upcoming trip from Jessie Wong from Yu Mei here.
The fashion designers and entrepreneurs meet with Adam McConnochie from Asia New Zealand Foundation prior to their trip to Thailand.