Former FashioNZ editor Natalie Ashton in 2018. Image supplied.
Natalie Ashton took the helm as editor of FashioNZ in 2010 and was with the site until she moved to Sydney in mid-2011. At the time FashioNZ was well established although the fashion industry was feeling the crunch of the recession, but there was still many new collections and lots for Natalie to get stuck into. Her strong writing skills, nose for a good story and love of all things fun made her the perfect person to lead the site.
We caught up with Natalie to find out what her time as editor was like, her go-to NZ designers and her favourite wardrobe item from the past 20 years.
How did you get your job at FashioNZ?
I was hired by what was then the parent company of FashioNZ. I was still pretty new to the workforce then, but had strong editorial skills and experience working in the local media industry, as well as a huge interest in fashion, so I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to take the helm at FashioNZ!
What can you remember of your first day at FashioNZ?
Back in those days, FashioNZ was owned by a company called Digital Partners, who were located in a converted villa just off Dominion Road. DP owned a portfolio of lifestyle and beauty websites as well as FashioNZ, including gloss.co.nz and beautybible.co.nz. The team were really young, fun and friendly and my first day involved getting to know them, reading press releases and playing with some new MAC products that had arrived, so as far as first days on the job go, it was a pretty good one!
What were the best things about your job?
I loved meeting and getting to know people in the local fashion, beauty and PR industries – every week there was an exciting new event or product launch to attend. Of course, Fashion Week was also a huge highlight every year. It was also fantastic diving into the local fashion industry landscape, learning about each designer, their inspirations and influences, and getting to write about all of it.
Natalie, some very pink flamingos and a cocktail. Image supplied.
Tell us about your time as editor?
My time as editor of FashioNZ was a huge learning curve for me, in terms of editorial and fashion. When I took over, the website and brand were already so well established at the forefront of the NZ fashion industry (thanks to the previous editor, the lovely Julie!), so I looked to continue to build on that legacy, while putting my own spin on the editorial and website.
What were your favourite trends you saw?
One that comes to mind is the statement sunnies trend, especially Karen Walker’s! The Super Dupers and Number Ones were favourites of mine.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m a pretty classic dresser, but I like to offset classic pieces with bold accessories like statement earrings. I dress more on the understated, elegant side – I tend to wear a lot of black!
Who are your favourite NZ brands and designers?
I love Karen Walker, she’s a Kiwi icon and I love how she combines fantastic bold prints with impeccably tailored people. Another favourite of mine is Miss Crabb – I love her simple, understated style. I dressed my bridesmaids in the ‘Summertime’ dress – that’s my all-time favourite Miss Crabb design. Footwear-wise, I’m a huge fan of Kathryn Wilson and Miss Wilson.
What was New Zealand Fashion Week like for you?
A lot of fun! It’s such a hectic week and it’s always amazing to see the level of quality and talent that exists in the local fashion scene. In my time as editor, the event was run like a well-oiled machine, so it was always a pleasure to attend. Of course, the after-parties were a lot of fun, too!
Natalie Ashton’s editor’s letter from June 2010. Screenshot via Wayback Machine.
What are the most significant changes in technology/fashion since you were at FashioNZ?
The biggest change is definitely the rise of content and social media – of course, the rise of the fashion blogger is also central to that. There was no Instagram and Facebook was only in its early years when I was editor of FashioNZ, so the ability brands have to now connect with audiences on social platforms has made fashion much more accessible. For example, now we can watch fashion shows on Instagram Live, from our mobile devices.
Since we’re celebrating FashioNZ’s 20th anniversary this year, what is your favourite fashion item of the past 20 years that’s still in your wardrobe?
I picked up this amazing black leopard print prom dress in an op shop on Melrose when I was in L.A in 2011. It was one of those rare finds that cost me about $20 and I absolutely love it. It probably doesn’t fit me anymore but I can’t bring myself to throw it away.
What are you up to now?
I’ve just returned home to Auckland to live after spending the last 7 years living in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur and Warsaw – I’ve been travelling a lot! I’m currently working as a freelance copywriter and content marketing strategist, while planning my next move.
Where do you see fashion in NZ going?
I think it’s going to continue to move in a really exciting direction. We have a really strong local fashion scene here, and the big names like Karen, Trelise Cooper and Zambesi continue to have such a huge impact on style, both locally and internationally. I also think we’ll see a new crop of young designers start to emerge, with the rise of social shopping and e-commerce making it easier than ever to discover and shop great local designers.
Finish this sentence, FashioNZ is…
An NZ trailblazer and your go-to for everything fashion related!
To browse back through FashioNZ’s 20 year history visit Wayback Machine.