Other than a sole American import to present during Air New Zealand Fashion Week—Richie Rich and Pamela Anderson’s underwhelming a*Muse line of eco-friendly clothes—the younger generation of Kiwi designers stole the week’s spotlight. This is the generation of individuals who embrace taking chances with style, stylistic adventurers, regular and consistent boundary pushers—all of whom embrace the art of design and edgy aesthetics.
The notion of New Zealand streetwear culture definitely played a prominent role in the execution of Air NZFW. Kiwi culture is excessively patriotic when it comes to local designers, and rightly so. Labels Stolen Girlfriends Club, Kate Sylvester and Huffer do for the K’Road present demographic what Alexander Wang provides for the NYC downtown crew.
Stolen Girlfriends Club was formed in 2005 by Mark Moore and Luke Harwood, a pair of professional ex-surfers. Their latest collection, “Welcome To Nowhere,” was the perfect mixture of Indian Summer meets Woodstock: disheveled yet luxurious sweater capes, body-hugging silhouettes, fur-trimmed hiking boots matched perfectly with crochet shoulder bags and lace embellished bell bottoms. The runway presentation felt more like a gathering of friends and collaborators anxiously awaiting to see what the boys had produced this season. With an uproar of applause (and excessive amounts of beer) the down under hipster/DIY crowd approves of the SGC.
Kate Sylvester was another name that surrounded rumblings of innovation and excessive Kiwi devotion. With her latest collection, titled “Diamond Dogs,” Sylvester provided the anxious crowd with an assemblage of trends that instantaneously raptured the downtown set—starting with the bold presence of royal purple lips. Playing with the notion of “pantless-ness,” contrasting themes of pastel toned lingerie coincided with minimal hints of leather. While some might criticize Sylvester for her lack of cohesion, it’s this very disheveled hybrid of tones and themes that has struck a high note with her supporters. With Grecian inspired tonalities colliding with Courtney Love’s ’90s wardrobe, Sylvester offered grunge’s yin to Grecian’s yang.
Huffer, quite possibly recognized as NZ’s streetwear mascot, closed out NZFW at the New Market Audi Dealership. It is evident that there was a clear direction at hand with this collection, a calculated move from their urban roots to a more grown-up, versatile set of garments. While maintaining the very essence that has catapulted the label to streetwear recognition, the clothes had a more tailored and clean-cut essence in each fabric and silhouette. Could this transition from the first streetwear label on the block to a more polished set of aesthetics set the stage for upcoming collections? Could Huffer’s metamorphosis from uber-street to semi-polished trickle down to the remainder of New Zealand’s prized collections? If the SCG, Kate Sylvester and Huffer trifecta is a gauge for longevity, other less “a*Mused” labels will certainly fall to the backlash of our creative memories.