Six Māori designers leading the way

Aotearoa is blessed with an abundance of creative talent and the fashion industry is no exception. We have some truly talented individuals making their mark in fashion and these six Māori designers are leading the way forward. All of them have featured before on FashioNZ over the years and we wanted to showcase them together this time as a creative force to be reckoned with.

International Womens Day 2020

Kiri Nathan
Designer Kiri Nathan is a true fashion and business powerhouse who was honoured as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Māori and the fashion industry in 2020. Kiri founded the impressive Kāhui Collective which mentors and promotes Māori designers and led a successful hikoi to China in 2019. In early 2020, Kiri designed a spectacular custom silk gown for Jojo Rabbit producer Chelsea Winstanley which graced the red carpet of the 2020 Oscars. After showing as part of the first Miromoda show at New Zealand Fashion Week 2009, Kiri stunned attendees with her incredible 2018 solo show which showcased her beautiful designs that have a distinctly Māori essence and aesthetic. Kiri is a passionate advocate for Māori design and creating slow fashion, making unique garments by hand that are designed to be treasured and handed down for generations.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Looks from Kiri Nathan’s 2018 solo show at New Zealand Fashion Week.

International Womens Day 2021 Nicola Te Kiri

Nichola Te Kiri
Nichola Te Kiri founded her contemporary, eponymous Māori design label over a decade ago in her hometown of Kirikiriroa (Hamilton). Nichola’s design house works across a range of items include kākahu (clothing), whakakai (jewellery), nga rama (lamps) and mahi toi (artworks) which are available through her Hamilton store, online and via stockists around Aotearoa. Late last year, Nichola’s uniform collaboration with Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira was revealed with the revamping of the museum’s front of house Visitor Host uniforms to allow the staff to feel more connected to their workplace. Nichola’s eye-catching designs have been showcased on the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week and Hong Kong Fashion Week, with the designer aiming to showcase her contemporary label on a global stage.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Looks by Nichola on the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019.

New Zealand Fashion Week 20th Anniversary BTS

Bobby Luke
Designer Bobby Luke is the founder of beloved label Campbell Luke which brought the house down at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 with an incredibly moving solo show that beautifully expressed Bobby’s cultural heritage. Bobby has also shown his sublime designs for several years in the Miromoda and New Generation shows at New Zealand Fashion Week growing the loyal audience for his brand. Bobby works in aspects of his Māori heritage to his garments, making statements about the colonisation of Aotearoa and utilising his art background to champion his ideas. Currently doing his phd while also balancing lecturing in design at Victoria University in Wellington, Bobby will be showcasing his latest range when New Zealand Fashion Week 2021 is rescheduled and features in our documentary about New Zealand Fashion Week’s 20th anniversary on YouTube.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Looks from Campbell Luke’s New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 show.

Te Aho Tapu Hou

Jeanine Clarkin
Jeanine Clarkin founded her eponymous label in 1994 and has been sharing her unique design style which draws from her Māori culture and enjoyment of travel and art ever since. Jeanine has also been a costume designer for dance and theatre, a fashion show producer and creative director as well as a curator for art exhibitions. The designer showed together with Shona Tawhaio in a group show called AHO at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 with a fascinating collection primarily created from upcycled blankets. Last month, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato opened a large-scale exhibition featuring Jeanine Clarkin’s work titled Te Aho Tapu Hou: The new sacred thread which runs until 31st October 2021.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Looks from Jeanine Clarkin’s New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 show.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Adrienne Whitewood
Rotorua based designer Adrienne Whitewood, launched her eponymous label after graduating from AUT with a degree in fashion design and opened her first store Ahu Boutique in 2013. Adrienne’s flair for high end contemporary Māori design using detailed prints has seen her brand build a strong following. Adrienne Whitewood made her solo debut at New Zealand Fashion Week 2017 with a slick collection of relaxed men’s and women’s looks that drew rapturous applause. In 2019, Adrienne announced that she was pursuing more sustainable long term practices for her business including sourcing environmentally sustainable textiles.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Looks by Adrienne Whitewood.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Mitchell Vincent
Designer Mitchell Vincent is based in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) and founded his eponymous contemporary label after graduating from Wintec in 2013. Mitchell is known for his modern designs that reflect his minimalist aesthetic and Māori heritage, offering relaxed styles for men and women. Mitchell Vincent has showcased his elegant designs at both the Miromoda and New Generation shows at New Zealand Fashion Week, making a confident and assured solo debut in 2017. The designer regularly shows his latest collections in the Waikato with numerous stylish fashion shows in recent years including one for Audi in 2019.

Six Maori designers leading the way

Looks by Mitchell Vincent.

Image by James Yang and supplied.

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