Style File: Kim Fraser and Deborah Crowe from Fraser Crowe

Style File

Designers Deborah Crowe and Kim Fraser from Fraser Crowe. Image from Fraser Crowe.

Kim Fraser and Deborah Crowe are the designers and founders behind the recently relaunched ethical fashion label Fraser Crowe. The brand produces limited runs throughout the year. Their garments are all designed and made locally utilising craftspeople to create exclusive pieces that are made to last. Fraser Crowe’s manufacturing process takes responsibility in creating authentic products that consider issues and consequences for people and the environment

We caught up with Kim and Deborah to find out more about their brand, what inspires them and what you would never catch them wearing!

Tell us about your latest collection?
We value the importance of longevity and so purposely choose to work off calendar rather than the traditional collection format. Fraser Crowe makes transeasonal garments that incorporate classic shapes – often with a twist. The quality and feel of the textile is central to our process. Our designs are engineered, cut and made to minimise waste, with key looks incorporating our Fraser Crowe unique art prints. Basically, we are ethically and environmentally motivated designers who push against trend focused fashion.

What made you become designers?
Our motivations have evolved over the years and are different from when we worked together in the ‘90s retailing our label throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and in Australia. When we relaunched recently we wanted to disrupt the trend-based seasonal fashion scene and make beautiful pieces that could be the next generation’s heirlooms. Of course, there is also the joy that comes from working with gorgeous fabrics, and the fun of being a collaborative team.

What inspires you?
We’re always inspired by the actions and creations of those who care about the bigger picture. We believe it’s time to “be the change”. We get excited about the narrative element and provenance of textiles and garments – how each piece of cloth carries a story, and how, over time, we can build very personal relationships with garments.

Style File Kim Fraser and Deborah Crowe from Fraser Crowe

Fraser Crowe Slash Neck Two-Fold Top & Featherweight Kimono #lesslandfill. Images by Caryline Boreham.

Describe your personal style/s and how it influences your designs?
Kim: My style is always evolving and I like to play with different combos of my wardrobe. I like to layer up oversized outers with dark neutral basics and then splash something colourfully unexpected into the mix. I am intrigued by function and I’m always testing new ideas, wearing samples and prototypes, often unfinished… more often than not you’ll find me making something new to wear to tomorrow’s function.

Deborah: My style is quite eclectic. I am a visual artist and like collage/assemblage and mixing things up a bit. I’ll wear fairly classic, refined pieces one day, and then a crazy ‘Who is Dead Martin?’ hand embroidered piece by Maiangi Waitai the next. For a long time I have been a collector of contemporary jewellery and quite sculptural shoes, so those often play a part in an outfit.

Together our individual styles fuse a process driven collaboration. There is a kind of unspoken code that could possibly be labelled ‘appreciating duality’. Collectively we have a myriad of tools to draw on when we’re designing together. We welcome surprise and encourage risk, often merging opposites, resulting in strikingly different style, perhaps even what gets termed ‘exotic style’.

What is your all-⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠time favourite purchase?
We’d have to say Issey Miyake, we both have favourite ‘Pleats Please’ garments in our wardrobe. Since we first met we have always admired Miyake’s approach to design, his understanding of sculpture, comprehension of how the body moves and his ongoing innovations in textiles. We were both thrilled when we met and exhibited with Kosuke Tsumura (who had worked in Miyake’s design studio) in Canada in 1998.

What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
A dress that makes you feel gorgeous, can take you from season to season, AND can be styled in at least 100 different ways.

Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Not really. We quite like breaking rules.

Style File Kim Fraser and Deborah Crowe from Fraser Crowe

Fraser Crowe Featherweight Kimono ‘Constructing Chaos’ & Waste-less Dress. Images by Caryline Boreham.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been are lots of highlights over the years. A recent buzz: one of our clients calls us her ‘Fairy Godmothers’. It’s so great to see people wearing our work, and even better when they tell us the stories about their experiences, pleasure and self-confidence that comes with wearing a certain piece.

What can’t you live without?
Our very supportive whanau (and our mobile phones).

Finish this sentence – You would never catch us wearing…
That’s tricky, being as eclectic as we are, but perhaps a throwaway plastic poncho.

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