International Day of Friendship: Celebrating friendships in the fashion industry

Humans are social creatures, we thrive on connection with others and through shared experiences we form friendships that enrich our lives. Psychologists have discovered that friendships are actually vitally important to us and help lower our stress levels by sharing our problems with each other and enhance our mood through sharing jokes and caring for each other. We first start seeking out friendship from early childhood but as we grow up those friendships become even more important as we go through life changes, the support of our friends also teaches us about ourselves and helps us become better people.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly declared July 30th to be the International Day of Friendship with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. They proclaimed that the issues and crises in the world must be addressed by promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms — the simplest of which is friendship.

Given the current global situation it’s never been more important to acknowledge and celebrate friendship, so we asked seven pairs of friends in our local fashion industry to give us some insight into their friendships and share what makes their bond special.

International friendship day

Photographer Anupam Singh and Art Director/Influencer Aki Ang

How did you two meet and become friends?
Aki: We met when I was doing some talent/modeling work back in 2013. I have grown from a model, to art director, to fashion influencer and Anupam has grown and expanded his fashion photography portfolio, we have both grown up a lot, along with our friendship.

Anupam: I met Aki through a mutual friend back in 2013, Aki was a model back then, she was super humorous on set and we connected and became friends.

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Aki: Humour, being lovers of great food and learning. We love to discover great cafes in Auckland and there’s always lots of laughter and jokes when we hang out. Anupam is a hardworking man – I’ve learnt so much from his hustle life.

Anupam: Food would be a big part of our friendship, Aki lives around the corner from me so after work dinners and rants are often the case. Knowledge: We learn off each other, Aki has an amazing eye for detail and her art direction background has helped me a lot over the years to develop a style in my photography. Dependable: Aki is always there to give me honest and unbiased feedback.

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Aki: Every single time when we hang out, Anupam takes all these ugly or silly pictures of me, but he never shares them online. That’s when you know that he is a TRUE FRIEND haha. Well, that’s because there were times I was crazy enough to stand on a chair, taking pictures of my plate. I am just very comfortable around him, I don’t ever need to pretend to be someone I’m not.

Anupam: So many over the years, from turning food catch ups into photoshoots to getting called late at night to photograph a crazy idea that Aki has.

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Aki: Anupam is hardworking, honest and sooooooo reliable!

Anupam: Relentless hard work: Aki is up there amongst the most hard working people I know, often spending long hours in her art direction role and then working on her amazing blog. But she always has time for her friends and is just a phone call/text away!

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Aki: Photography. I’ve learnt so much from him. I first bought a camera and I remember ringing him so many times in a week, thank God he didn’t block me on his phone haha. Anupam if you are seeing this and wanting to learn video editing, please feel free to ring me 24/7. I won’t block you on my phone, promise!

Anupam: Street style and Photography. Having worked with Aki on a lot of shoots and the way she preps and the briefs that she has are so meticulous, you end up learning something new every single time!

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Aki: There’s nothing from his wardrobe that I would steal, and there’s nothing in mine that he should take either haha. Although I would like to steal his film camera. So if it’s gone, chances are…

Anupam: Haha! I don’t think I would be able to carry off anything that Aki has. I’m sure she has her eyes set on my watches or camera gear though.

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Aki: Friendship day shouldn’t be celebrated only once a year. As you get older, you realise that true friends are treasures of a lifetime. Celebrate them and be grateful everyday.

Anupam: Appreciate and be grateful for having such amazing friends, Make sure you take the time out often and appreciate that. Don’t wait for a day to remind them how much you value them.

International friendship day

Models/Influencers Rebecca Dubber and Olivia Shivas

How did you two meet and become friends?
Olivia: We first met each other at an AUT orientation day in 2012. We were both the only wheelchair-users and I didn’t know anyone else, so I went up to her and said hi and introduced myself, thinking: “This is a bit awkward, but we’re in the same disabled club haha”. We were actually studying different majors at uni so didn’t really become proper friends until a few years later. We started having regular dinners and our friendship blossomed from there.

Rebecca: Olivia and I first met on the first day of AUT’s O’Week in 2012 I remember seeing her for the first time and being hesitant to go and introduce myself because I thought it was a bit cliché to go and introduce myself to the only other wheelchair user at the event, but I’m really glad that we did get a chance to connect that day and even though we didn’t do a lot of the same papers or become very close friends during our time or university, we ended up working at the same organisation for a period of time and became quite close friends and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Olivia: – The shared life experience of being disabled is really unique compared to my friendships with non-disabled friends. It’s something only another disabled person can truly understand, and we just ‘get’ each other without having to explain what it’s like and how our disabilities impact our everyday lives and decisions.
– We are vulnerable with each other about our struggles and are able to give each other advice over our shared experiences.
– We have really similar interests – eating good food, keeping active, fashion, beauty and we both work in the media industry. I’d never met another wheelchair-user with such a similar lifestyle to me until I met Becs!

Rebecca: – Both of us being wheelchair users’ means that we have a lot of things we can talk about that most other people wouldn’t understand – honestly we have some great inside jokes!
– Having similar interests like beauty, fashion and food – we always have things to talk about and there’s never a shortage of good food around when we decide to catch up.
– Being able to relate to each other’s life experiences and give each other advice, we’ve both had very different life pathways this far, but things are always happening where we can lean on the other for advice and support.

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Olivia: Ahhh this is so hard to choose just one! We FaceTimed a lot during level 4 lockdown, and had some really deep and special conversations about growing up with a disability. Recently we went to the new COS store at Commercial Bay and tried on a bunch of outfits in the same changing room – we must’ve been in there trying on clothes and taking selfies for over an hour! And also when we did a photoshoot together earlier this year, that was really fun!

Rebecca: I think all my moments spent with Liv are favourite memories, I definitely can’t pick just one, but if I had to it would be a photoshoot we did earlier in the year, it was the first time we got to pose together and I think those are some of my most favourite photos ever!

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Olivia: Her determination – she is a Paralympic medalist after all! And her generosity – she’s always available to make time for me. I know she has my back and is so proactive in maintaining a great friendship. Whenever we hang out, we are already planning the next time we catch up!

Rebecca: I really admire Liv’s kindness, she never has a bad word to say about anyone and is always just a complete ray of sunshine whenever we’re together.

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Olivia: Growing up as a little girl, I don’t remember seeing fashionable young disabled women (or any disabled person really). Becs and I both appreciate a great outfit and looking good and feeling confident in our appearance. But more importantly, we both believe it’s vital to see different forms of beauty and body types in the fashion industry, and to advocate for the industry to be more inclusive of diversity.

Rebecca: I think we both bonded over Grace’s vision for ALL IS FOR ALL, it’s so important to have representation for people with access needs in fashion and media, for both of us growing up we didn’t see ourselves represented, so to be a part of that change now is something really special for us.

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Olivia: Her Levi’s Google Jacquard Trucker Jacket (a denim jacket with a remote control device).

Rebecca: Liv has the most effortless style! – If I had the chance to raid her wardrobe I’d definitely be looking for one of her gorgeous dresses!

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Olivia: As humans, we are designed for relationships; it’s what enriches our own lives and gives us the opportunity to bless, encourage and give positive input into other people’s lives. My friends are my biggest cheerleaders, they are there on the other end of the phone when I’ve had a bad day, they appreciate my quirkiness and weird sense of humour, and know exactly when I need help with any disability stuff without even having to ask. True friends accept you just as you are, and don’t try to change you for something you are not. Friendships add so much value in my life – and that is definitely worth celebrating!

Rebecca: Friends are the family we get to choose, and they play such a huge role in shaping who we are as humans and what we choose to value, they play such an important role in our day to day lives and I think that is definitely something worth celebrating!

International friendship day

Fashion designers Kathryn Wilson and Juliette Hogan

How did you two meet and become friends?
Kathryn: Juliette and I met at Rosehill Intermediate when we were 11 or 12… we went through High School together and then Massey University Design School. We both won scholarships to study overseas – Juliette in New York and myself in the UK then returned to NZ to start our respective brands around the same time.

Juliette: Kath and I grew up together through Intermediate, High School and then University. We were both focused on the same things so it was easy to become friends and share our hopes and dreams.

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Kathryn: Honesty, encouragement/support, trustworthy.

Juliette: Ditto – honesty, support and trust. It means the world to me to have such a close friend in the same industry to share life’s joys and challenges with.

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Kathryn: Juliette designed my bridesmaids dresses at my wedding and was there on the day to celebrate with us near her families beach property.

Juliette: There are so many! I remember the time that we squeezed 4 adults and 5 suitcases into a jampacked car for the journey from London to Oxford for a good friend’s wedding, celebrating with each other after our first ever NZFW catwalk shows and just being there as a support to one another.

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Kathryn: Determination and ambition.

Juliette: I admire Kath’s continual positive outlook and her drive.

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Kathryn: Quality, timeless products that make the wearer feel happy and confident.

Juliette: Beautiful and considered design.

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Kathryn: Juliette’s leather pants or Celine boots!

Juliette: Kath’s shoe collection of course!

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Kathryn: Friendship is everything, I would be lost without the support and guidance from friends, we have learnt a lot from each other over the years and encouraged each other to celebrate the moments along the way too!

Juliette: It’s a day to acknowledge those that are so very important to you My business wouldn’t be that same as what it is today without the encouragement, love and support from those that I surround me.

International friendship day

Fashion Designers Kiri Nathan and Nichola Te Kiri (centre left and centre right)

How did you two meet and become friends?
Kiri: A mutual friend Grayza, referred Nichola’s name to me, I invited her to show at a fashion event in Auckland and that was our first physical meeting.

Nichola: We met initially a few years ago at a fashion show, Kiri had invited myself and several other Māori designers to show at the FAI fashion show in Auckland. This was the first time I met her face to face, but secretly I had been a fan of hers for years prior and knew we would be buddies one day! Ha!

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Kiri: Shared experience, love of culture and fashion, our Kāhui whānau and community. Nic is a great human being and I admire her work ethic and goodness, I love the way she nurtures and helps everyone around her, she is beautiful.

Nichola: Honestly, trust and laughs… I love that we can be open and honest with each other, we trust what the other one says and does… and that we can have a good laugh (normally at ourselves!).

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Kiri: Custard tarts in Hong Kong,

When she says “world domination”,

When she turned up at my room in China at 7am to have a courageous conversation,

The look on her face when I parked her car at the fashion week accommodation – lets just say it wasn’t my best work.

Nichola: Ooooo that’s a close tie between our trip to China (which was AMAZING on so many levels) and then Hong Kong. But I think our trip to Hong Kong is probably where I got to know the awesomeness of Kiri more! Especially after some spicy crab and red wines.

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Kiri: Her Hustle, Her work ethic, Her kindness.

Nichola: Here are so many things I admire about Kiri, but at the top it would probably be her aroha for others and for any kaupapa she believes in. Kiri just gives so much of herself selflessly and for the betterment of many, especially Māori. She’s pretty damn awesome.

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Kiri: Culture, fashion and our Kāhui whānau and community.

Nichola: Oooo I’m not sure what she would say, but I think it’s supporting and encouraging others in the fashion business, because being in business is hard. That’s why building a community, a whānau in fashion is really important so that we can nurture and tautoko one another through the good and the tough times. So we can celebrate the wins, work out how we get through the tricky times and encourage each other through the lows. This is a kaupapa we both love to support, strengthen and foster.

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Kiri: I love her wool wraps with binding in latte tone, she knows my size hint hint haha.

Nichola: Ha! I already own a Kiri top that I wear to almost every fancy event! Oooooo actually I would also take anything woven that she has.

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Kiri: We all need to be aware of the things we should be grateful for, and in all seriousness, we should acknowledge those things daily for our own mental well being.  Friendships are the relationships that have pulled me through all of life’s challenges, so having one day a year where you create small and large gestures of thanks to the people that are your chosen tribe is bloody marvellous!

Nichola: I think we should celebrate and acknowledge our friendships every day! Sometimes friends are more than friendships, they are like whānau and I love that. Kiri, my friendship with you is more like sisterhood and is something so special and dear to me, thank you for being the awesome unicorn rockstar that you are! You f*#ken rock! Mwah xx

International friendship day

Fashion designers Judy Gao and Kerry Ranginui

How did you two meet and become friends?
Judy: We were roommates on Project Runway so got a lot of quality time with just the two of us. Our friendship was solidified when we were paired for a group challenge and won! We worked super well together and had mutual understanding and respect.

Kerry: We were roommates on Project Runway from the first day till almost the end of filming, I pretty much spent most of my down time with Judy, and she would make me a smoothie most mornings which was super kind, lots of supporting each other and night time chats.

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Judy: 1. Our humour perfectly aligns so that’s why we get along so well and so effortlessly.
2. We don’t catch up often but when we do, it’s like right where we left off.
3. If one of us is in a pickle, we will always help the other out.

Kerry: Humour – Judy is super funny and we spend a lot of time laughing at each other and ourselves.
Shared skills – We always help each other with projects we’re working on.
Respect – for each other and our work.

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Judy: My favourite memory is when we did a mini runway show backstage with Misty’s garments. It was nice to have some downtime during filming to be stupid.

Kerry: One favourite time was helping Judy at her model fitting for fashion week. It was her first time fitting a dozen models all at once, she asked if I could come help her as she was in need of reassurance. We know each other well enough to openly critique each other and not be offended.

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Judy: I admire the generosity of his time. Even though he is busy, he will always offer his friends help if they need it.

Kerry: Judy is self taught, she has a real “let’s just try this” approach, I think it takes huge courage to start your own label with such limited knowledge, its enabled her to problem solve and upskill with every garment she’s made.

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Judy: Extra, black, fabulous dresses. Kerry’s tried on just about everything I have.

Kerry: We both love a good gown and both have a huge respect for bridal wear, we share a similar aesthetic in our personal style.

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Judy: Kerry’s purple Cher jumpsuit that he made when he did a drag performance of Waterloo. It was pretty spectacular and very close to the original.

Kerry: I helped Judy with patterns for her debut fashion week collection, from that collection she made an amazing sheer organza crinoline skirt that was a real show stopped piece, I’ve tried it on a few times.

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Judy: It is important to show our appreciation for friends who are always there for us. We sometimes take those friendships for granted so this day is a good reminder to celebrate them.

Kerry: Friendship day for me is acknowledging those around you who nurture and nourish you and help you grow not only as a person but as a designer. Working in a small high demand industry it’s integral to have great working friendships and connections.

It’s essential to celebrate your working friendships as they are one of your biggest daily supporters.

International friendship day

Model Leah Pao and Stylist Sammy Salsa

How did you two meet and become friends?
Leah: We met through a mutual friend, although I knew of him before I met him (who didn’t know of Sammy Salsa and think he was a mean girl lmao). As soon as we hung out properly and I got to know him, I knew he was going to be in my life for a very long time.

Sammy: Leah a.k.a Queen of Tonga actually stalked me on social media and so badly wanted to become friends because I was so cool that one day she followed me to a hotel party and we hit it off lol jokes – Well the hotel party part is true! – We met through mutual friends and I remember seeing Leah out and about and she was always going 100! It drew me towards her. Eventually we got a chance to kiki (chill) and the vibe was there – I always say she’s the female version of me.

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Leah: 1. Trust – I know that I can trust Sammy with my life. He makes me feel safe when I’m around him and I 100% know that he’ll take a secret to the grave for me (inside joke hahaha). 2. Communication – we’re those friends that are constantly checking in with each other, even if it’s a simple “hi miss you. Love you” text. We’re not afraid to be vulnerable with one another and will call each other out when need be. 3. Our sense of humour – one of my fav things to do with Sammy is cackle at each others jokes (we can spend hours going back and forth with our dark sense of humour and be shady to each other/ everyone in the room… I LOVE IT!)

Sammy: She’s a realist! We’re not afraid to call each other out on our own bullshit behaviour – a true friend is someone who supports you in your wins but also gives you a reality check when you need checking, this ultimately sets “friends” apart from “besties.”
– Being Brown and Queer – We understand what it’s like to be a minority in today’s world – but we never let that hinder our growth and it’s been such a huge learning experience seeing someone like Leah live her truth and be comfortable in her own skin.
– Āiga (Family) – This is the core of what keeps us grounded which weaves it’s way into our own friendship – the values that we’ve learnt from our family is what we portray in our own relationship.

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Leah: Every time I’m around Sammy it’s a vibe. Whether we’re being wholesome going to the gym together or sculling tequila shots and twerking on each other together. Every memory I make with him is my fav!

Sammy: Anyone who knows Leah will know that there’s a special spot where we turn it out on a Friday night or keep it cute on a weekday – “KU” (Kili’s Universe – named after Leah’s mum) This is their home garage where anyone from all walks of life gather and hangout in a safe space from our very good friends, strangers who eventually become good friends and family – The memories here are unmatched! If you’ve ever been invited to KU then you know Leah is down with you lol.

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Leah: I most admire his passion he has for everything he does. He has a fierce passion for family, for his culture, for WORK, for anything he puts his mind to and it’s so amazing to be able to watch and support him because 10 out of 10 he slays every time!

Sammy: Her unapologetic attitude towards society – she knows who she is, her worth and what she stands for – it’ll forever be inspiring to myself and others.

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Leah: Reading everyone’s outfits for filth as soon we step in the room hahahahaha just kidding. I think we both trust that we’ll be the best dressed/best looking couple at any event we go to.

Sammy: We love a good fashion read. Not the book, other people’s outfits lol – jokes not jokes? Lol. We express a lot through our choice of clothing whether we’re serving a fierce 10 or serving leftovers lol, either way there’s always commentary (shade or not) on each other’s outfits that leaves us gagging in laughter.

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Leah: Hmmm… I would probably want to steal all his designer sunglasses. He has a different pair on every time we go out so I don’t think he’ll miss one pair if I slip it in my bag when he’s asleep lmao.

Sammy: Her man? LOL jokes – Ummmm, anything that fits me? So maybe a pair of gloves? Haha. Leah has a unique style that only she can pull off, it’s what makes her Leah!

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Leah: International Friendship Day is a day to celebrate the ones you love! I consider all my friends, family and why not celebrate family at every moment we can! It’s so important to hype up and celebrate your friends because these are the people that are riding along with you on your journey of life. These are the people that fill your cup, when yours is empty and vice versa. It’s so important to tell your friends that you love them every day!

Sammy: Everyday should be IFD – friends are just as important as family, they’re who we call on when we can’t call on our āiga sometimes. Friendships help build character, they help us navigate the world and prepare us for our everyday lives and you could say that Leah is part of my life line.

International friendship day

Hair Stylist Michael Beel and Stylist Sopheak Seng

How did you two meet and become friends?
Michael: Wellington’s fashion scene is a “village” and I saw Sopheak at a few fashion events and to be honest I didn’t really get his vibe… it wasn’t until I booked him to style a hair collection I was doing that I fully got to meet him properly and understand his quirks and differences.

Sopheak: We had known of each other in passing being in the industry together and I had admired him from afar but officially sort of met when I styled a shoot for Michael.

What would you say are the three most important things that make your friendship what it is?
Michael: The three most important things in our friendship are honesty, a love for food and not being afraid to give each other a good ribbing all done with a sense of humour! Our motto is the bigger the slam the bigger the love.

Sopheak: Trust, honesty and the ability to laugh at each other. In this industry it is hard to spot true friendships from the ones that are more superficial. I trust Michael implicitly. I know he is always there for me through the good and the bad and will always be the most honest with me and tell me the hard truths, even when I don’t want to hear them. We have a saying that is the harder the slam, the bigger the love.

What’s your favourite friendship memory?
Michael: Fave friendship memory is when we auditioned for NZ’s MKR (only cause we wanted to meet Pete and Manu) and almost making it to TV land! We both love to cook and I think we have great TV personas so the show producers missed out big time haha.

Sopheak: There have been so many over the years, we are lucky that we get to work with each other on creative projects, but I would say it was when Michael stood by me when I was doing a long stint in hospital. He would always make the effort to come see me and relay the outside world. Also this year was the year that he won his fourth NZ hairdresser of the year title, and we had worked on the shoot before I went into hospital.

What trait do you most admire in each other?
Michael: I love Sopheak’s fashion eye! Whenever we are on a shoot together I know I can count on him to get the best out of the models and make sure I get the winning shot!

Sopheak: I admire his ability to see the best in everyone, as I am not usually a people person and he balances me out in that respect. I also admire his work ethic, he is one of the hardest working people, giving back to the industry where he can and doing so with a smile. And he actually genuinely cares, a rare trait.

What do you bond over when it comes to fashion?
Michael: We both love Couture… the bigger, more opulent and over the topness the better! You can never have enough sequins and ostrich feathers.

Sopheak: We love everything that is high fashion, the couture seasons, the shows… anything and everything fashion is what we love. He has taught me to appreciate the hair in a show and I’m sure I have shown him some interesting designers that he wouldn’t normally thought of. We also appreciate each other’s encyclopaedic knowledge of obscure fashion references when it comes to editorials or shows, especially when working together. I only have to mention a season or designer reference and he gets it straight away and vice versa.

What’s your favourite piece from your friend’s wardrobe that you wish you could steal?
Michael: I wanna steal his Chanel pearl necklace or his McQueen scarves! I adore them.

Sopheak: Basically his entire wardrobe or the pieces that I have custom made for him, that I’m like damn, wish I could have that back to wear. But his Moschino sequin two piece would be on my ‘borrow’ list.

What does International Friendship Day mean to you and why should we celebrate friendship?
Michael: We should celebrate friendship day more than ever. In this current crazy world where hatred and racism are more prevalent than ever it’s so important to cherish loved ones, celebrate their individuality and appreciate their view on the world and help share a bit more kindness and gratitude… god knows the world needs it!

Sopheak: Friends are the ones that you choose, so for me they are my second family and the people that mean the world to me, who I would do anything for. They are there when you need them the most and sometimes are your replacement family. I love my friends and am thankful for my friends for grounding me and making me who I am.

Images supplied.

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