Feature image: Models in Adrienne Whitewood’s Tā collection. Photo/Erica Sinclair.
Quite a few countries around the world have unique fashion trends that are specific to the region. New Zealand is no different in that regard. The Māori people have a huge impact on the local fashion industry. They help to shape the fashion identity of the entire country with unique designs featuring bold colors and eye-catching patterns.
The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand with a rich culture. Māori art is characterized by an intricate, geometric style that often features curved or spiral shapes. It is a very distinctive art technique that you can find in many different forms, including Māori tattoos, wood carvings, and weaving.
Māori designers are now bringing that unique art style to fashion. They create beautiful garments and jewelry that are quickly becoming popular with fashion-savvy New Zealanders. Māori fashion is also starting to gain attention internationally. The country’s top Māori designers are being featured in international fashion magazines and runway shows. If you would like to get some Maori fashion pieces, you can check out the Tripplo UK and see if there are any discounts that grab your attention.
But, to learn more about their style and technique, read on!
Below, you will find a list of six Māori designers worth buying from.
Māori designer Mitchell Vincent lives in Hamilton (Māori: Kirikiriroa) and established his eponymous modern label in 2013. He did so right after he graduated from Wintec Te Pūkengaan Institute of Technology based in New Zealand’s Waikato region. Mitchell is famous for his contemporary designs that fuse Māori heritage with a minimalist aesthetic. It results in the creation of relaxed styles for men and women alike.
Since his solo debut in 2017, Mitchell Vincent has already showcased his stylish designs at the New Generation and Miromoda shows at New Zealand Fashion Week for five years in a row. The Māori designer does not want to stop here, though. Mitchell Vincent is excited about the growing demand for indigenous clothing being felt around the world. He plans on increasing his foothold in the Aotearoa market, as well as on expanding into Australia, China, and, eventually, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Adrienne Whitewood is a Māori designer based in Rotorua. She set up her eponymous label and opened her first store in 2013. It was right after graduating from Auckland University of Technology with a degree in fashion design. The store is called Ahu Boutique, and it is a business known for its high-end and modern Māori design. It uses elaborate prints and has caused Adrienne Whitewood’s brand to build a considerable following.
Adrienne Whitewood made a solo debut at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2017. She did so with a lovely collection of relaxed looks for both men and women. It drew enthusiastic applause. In 2019, Adrienne Whitewood pledged to start pursuing sustainable long-term business practices, including creating clothes and accessories using environmentally-friendly fabrics. She has a passion to showcase the best that Māori clothing, jewelry, and design have to offer.
Māori designer Jeanine Clarkin is a pioneer of Māori fashion in New Zealand. She started her eponymous label in 1994. Her unique design style draws from Māori culture and her enjoyment of art and travel. She has showcased multiple collections both in New Zealand and internationally and aims to continue to champion Māori design both locally and abroad.
Aside from being a fashion designer, Jeanine has worked as a fashion show producer, a creative director, a curator for art exhibitions, and a costume designer for theater actors and dancers. At New Zealand Fashion Week 2019, she showcased her work together with Shona Tawhaio during a group show called AHO. The entire collection was primarily created from upcycled blankets, which showed the designer’s commitment to sustainable and slow fashion.
In 2021, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato opened an exhibition that featured Jeanine Clarkin’s work. The exhibition was titled Te Aho Tapu Hou: The New Sacred Thread and was a huge success.
Bobby Luke founded the label Campbell Luke, which was a huge hit during the 2019 New Zealand Fashion Week. He showcased a beautiful collection that referred to his cultural heritage and aesthetic. Bobby has already managed to conquer the New Generation and Miromoda shows during the New Zealand Fashion Week and has been doing so for several years, which helped him to create a strong brand.
Bobby Luke has as inspiration his Māori heritage to create designs. He makes a statement about the colonization of New Zealand and makes use of his art background to champion his beliefs. While he is currently busy balancing lecturing at Victoria University of Wellington and doing his doctorate, it did not stop him from showcasing his latest collection at New Zealand Fashion Week 2021.
Nichola Te Kiri
Nichola Te Kiri is a famous Māori designer who founded her eponymous label in her hometown of Hamilton (Māori: Kirikiriroa). She aims to explore narratives drawn from her heritage and upbringing, as well as the environment around her. Her design house makes a number of different items. They range from clothing and jewelry to lamps and works of art. They are all available through her Kirikiriroa store, online, and through fashion stores around Aotearoa.
She featured on the runway both during New Zealand Fashion Week and Hong Kong Fashion Week, showcasing her garments on an international stage. Aside from that, she collaborated with Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira in 2020. She revamped the museum’s Visitor Host uniforms in order to allow the staff members to feel more connected to the place they work at.
Kiri Nathan is a business and fashion industry powerhouse. In 2020, she was honored as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contributions to the fashion industry and Māori. She is the founder of the Kāhui Collective, which aims to mentor and promote Māori designers. In 2020, Kiri designed a stunning silk gown for Chelsea Winstanley, which graced the red carpet during that year’s Oscars.
At New Zealand Fashion Week in 2019, the designer showed as part of the very first Mirmoda show. In 2018, she amazed attendees with a solo show featuring unique designs with a distinctly Māori aesthetic and presence. It is also worth noting that Kiri Nathan is a strong advocate for slow fashion. She aims to design unique pieces of clothing that can be handed down for generations.
Consider Buying From a Māori Designer!
To sum up, New Zealand is a country with a unique fashion design, and the Māori people have played a huge role in shaping it. In fact, Māori designers have already joined the ranks of the most popular fashion designers in New Zealand. The Māori aesthetic gains each Māori designer a lot of attention, both locally and internationally.
So, if you are looking for beautiful and unique clothes or accessories, you should definitely check out the work of some of New Zealand’s top Māori designers. It is a great way to both support the local fashion industry and purchase some stylish and unique garments that you will definitely love wearing!
* Written by Isabel Maaler
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Fashinnovation’s columnists are their own, not those of Fashinnovation.