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SEW
FAR
SO
GOOD?
THE IMPACT OF
GLOBALISATION
ON THE NEW ZEALAND
FASHION INDUSTRY
WORDS MILLA NOVAK
CCDN331 2016
Sarah Caylor, stream B

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _
Globalisation has a strong intertwining and
multifaceted relationship with the contemporary
design process. The process of globalisation
accelerated in the nineteenth century as a result
of the industrial revolution. This movement was the
beginning of a new way of thinking and
urbanization; creating life-changing machinery
and employing mass reproduction and
manufacturing to all aspects of design. Since the
industrial revolution, it brought about integration
and increased dependency between countries,
which resulted in the contemporary term
‘globalisation’. Globalisation can be defined as
"the development of closer economic, cultural and
political relations among all the countries of the

world as a result of travel and communication
becoming easy" (Cambridge Dictionaries Online).
This essay explores the fluid universal concept of
globalisation and how it has greatly impacted the
New Zealand Fashion Industry. I will further research
the methodology and cultural approaches that New
Zealand fashion designers are employing, the
struggles faced when competing with multinational
design corporations and the consumer attitude that
is hindering the success of our homegrown fashion
industry. This research will examine whether the
contemporary New Zealand fashion industry is able
to succeed alongside globalisation and what
changes need to take place in order for it to grow in
the future.
New Zealand Designer Karen Walker dress flying in the wind

1

Fashion in New Zealand originated in the 1940s as “
a land of few designers, many home sewers and a
large, professional garment manufacturing
sector” (Hammonds, Jenkins, Regnault, 2010). Not
until 1999 did New Zealand Fashion begin to fully
emerge and project a high fashion identity on the
global market. This identity was brought about by
four successful contemporary fashion icons, Karen
Walker, WORLD, Zambesi, and NOM*d during
London Fashion Week (Hammonds, Jenkins,
Regnault, 2010). Since then the New Zealand
Fashion industry has created and developed a
distinct style in order to attempt to stay afloat in the
highly competitive global fashion industry.

An example of this is seen in the edgy wearable style
of designer Margi Robertson who established Nom*d
in 1986, which is one of New Zealand’s successful long
term fashion labels. Her garments have utilised New
Zealand wool, as “Nom*D’s signature is wearable
wool garments that break the traditional woollen
style; "garments are versatile – often reversible – and
experiment with textures, fittings, and utilitarian
concepts” (New Zealand Tourism, n.d.). Contrasting to
high fashion, the renowned New Zealand unisex
brand Icebreaker locally manufactures sportswear
that is “sustainable, renewable, pure merino
clothing… lightweight, breathable and order resistant
– there’s nothing more natural to wear in
nature” (Sierra Trading Post, n.d.)
On the streets in New Zealand, designers express a
distinct style and this representation creates a point of
difference in the global market. The style reflects
“modesty, practicality, a stylish take on the casual –
and a strong sense of contrast” (Walker, 2011). Our
clothing is often recognised for its consistent choice of
black fabric, with a strong attitude that is successfully
articulated through textures that are

“edgy, dark and
intellectual” (Lassig, 2010).

New Zealand Fashion Week 2015 Zambesi collection

3

Although the colour black is significantly
represented in the New Zealand fashion industry,
the use of this colour is unsurprising given its
synonymous link to our global national sporting
identity. Fashion designer, Doris De Pont states,
“there is a dark aspect to our nature, a
melancholy… I do think black suits us. It’s
understated, it doesn’t shout at you for attention.
That reflects New Zealand’s persona” (stated in Hill,
2012).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

CULTURE

New Zealand is rich with culture. There is a uniqueness
that as a society we separate ourselves from
conformity on a global scale; which make us proud to
be a kiwi. In order for New Zealand to strive for
success on a global consumer market, given its
isolated geographical setting, it has adopted the
tagline '100% Pure'. This brand purpose is to broadcast
the “spirit of enterprise and associations with leisured
adventure and untrammeled nature” (Werry, 2011)
within New Zealand. The marketing campaign was
established as it has been globally recognised that
“branding is perhaps the most powerful marketing
weapon available to contemporary destination
marketers confronted by increasing product parity,
sustainability and competition”(Piggott, 2001). In
establishing this unique country branding New
Zealand's distinct cultural heritage, surroundings and
societal attitude were encapsulated in two powerful
words. The philosophy of '100% Pure' can also be seen
strongly withing the New Zealand Fashion industry as
“kiwi ingenuity and fluidity has led to the creation of
many organic and sustainable brands that reflect the
New Zealand passion for nature and the
environment” (Reid, 2014).

Maori heritage and indigenous values represented
in traditional motifs are a significant part of New
Zealand’s cultural identity and global image. The
New Zealand fashion industry have endeavoured
to further incorporate these iconic images, by
establishing a fashion programme called
Miromoda debuting in 2009 (Miromoda, 2016). This
initiative was to encourage Maori designers to
enter by incorporating Maori culture through
textures and patterns to ensure the “future of Maori
playing a pivotal role in the fashion industry and to
be commercial players” (Miromoda, 2016). One
success story from this programme is designer Kerry
Wanoa with her collection ‘Whiri’. Within this
collection “rich colours in deep red and pounamu
green dominated the range; and the signature
motif of the collection, the Taniko pattern- taken
from traditional Maori cloaks – was produced in
printed fabric and woven knits” (Williams, 2011). The
success of this collection was the integrated of
Maori motifs with contemporary fashion-forward,
yet wearable garments.
Since the invention of the World Wide Web, the
Internet has made it easier to access cultural
information and imagery. However, through this
freely accessible information, cultures can be
misrepresented and devalued causing cultural
insensitivity. The Internet provides global access to
Maori indigenous motifs and as such raises issues
regarding the intellectual property rights to these
traditional designs. An example of the misuse of
such designs was seen in Fashion Week of 2013
when Turkish designer Gul Agis’s collection
became very controversial for the culture
misappropriation of the Taniko Maori design. The
Programmed Director of Maori Business at
Wellington’s Victoria University proclaimed
“chances are she just got it from a Google search
and what she’s doing is her interpretation of
something she thinks is public domain because she
found it on the Internet” (Mcfarlane, 2013).
Although fashion designers are searching for an
innovative creative edge these patterns are

“copied for the wrong
reasons and represented in
bad design and this creation
is no different” (Mcfarlane,
2013).

London Fashion Week 2013 Gul Agis’s Collection

The Globalisation of the fashion industry is causing
a negative impact on our industry if it continues to
use cultural motifs inappropriately or without the
consent or collaboration with New Zealand
indigenous designers. New Zealand is trying to
promote our individual style and cultural
uniqueness through our fashion design in order to
have a point of difference and globalisation is
contrary to this cause.

Globalisation is creating success for many
multinational fashion corporations. However, these
businesses are creating negative repercussions for
small New Zealand design and manufacturing
businesses. How is it possible for localized designs
to compete with these massive companies that
are taking full advantage of globalisation “such as
outsourcing, exploiting uneven exchange rates,
and low-margin high-volume sales models making them nearly impossible to compete
against”(Macatta, 2015).
The harsh reality why these big multinational
corporations are overtaking smaller fashion design
businesses is due to mass production and
outsourced slave labor. This unethical way of
business is more common than we think. Globally
acclaimed business, Nike has been “described as
one of the central mediums of globalization and as
symbols of a global economy” (Kazi, 2011). On the
surface, it seems that Nike is employing correct
business measures ensuring their success, however,
this has underlining negative repercussions. Nike is
one of the biggest offenders of inhuman factory
conditions, with the CEO Phillip Knight admitting,
“Nike products have become synonymous with
slave wages, forced overtime and arbitrary
abuse” (Nisen, 2013). This business model is familiar
to globalisation, where factory workers endure
minimal wages and poor work conditions in order
to maximize profit and ensure larger shares can be
spent on other areas such as marketing. This
marketing drive is effective in counteracting any
human rights response to their business model with
Phillip Knight stating, “I truthfully don’t think that
there has been a material impact on Nike sales by
the human rights attacks” (Ramey, 1998).

6

“50 per cent of new small
businesses fail in the first five years
in New Zealand” (as cited in
Corner, 2001).
However, there are some successful stories that do
not employ the unethical globalization business
model. For example designer Melissa Williams-Lamb
founder of New Zealand fashion brand KILT in 2000,
states, “at KILT our garments are designed and
made with love right here in New Zealand. Being
New Zealand made means we are able to react to
what our customers want in their wardrobe at a
quicker pace” (KILT, 2014). By employing a localised
business model, KILT has been able to have an
ethical manufacturing approach and create
quality made clothing at a reasonable price. Since
2000, KILT now has eleven stores around New
Zealand due to its overwhelming New Zealand
Made success (KILT, 2014). However, although KILT
is very popular in New Zealand it has yet to
compete with the global business model and
become an international business. As globalisation
creates more of an impact, the question is will
brands like KILT be able to survive? One initiative
that could prove helpful in launching these smaller
developing fashion brands on the international
market is through online shopping; which enables
access to a global audience. However, in reality
without an extensive marketing budget, it is difficult
to gain international web traffic and sales.

Melissa Williams-Lamb owner of New Zealand clothing brand KILT in her workshop

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

PRODUCTION

This unethical business model employed by Nike
and many other successful multinational fashion
organisations means they can produce an
unlimited supply of their product at a very low
manufacturing cost, with the result creating high
failure rates among small fashion design
businesses. Confirming this is the Business Activity
Statistics which states

Clothing brand WORLD saying ‘yes’ to New Zealand made innovative clothing designs

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

CONSUMER
The attitude of the consumer contributes to
whether New Zealand made garments will be
embraced or will New Zealand designers be forced
to employ the globalisation model and outsource
their manufacturing to a third world factory
workshop. This highly controversial and competitive
business model is putting massive economic
pressure on local New Zealand fashion designers.
However, the way of the future is in the hands of
the consumer, do we make a conscience stand to
buy only New Zealand made brands, or do we
keep making ignorant decisions to keep buying
from the likes of Nike and support these
multinational, mass-produced unethical business
organisations at the expense of our threatened
fashion industry? In order to challenge the
globalisation model, consumers need to be willing
to “buy less, better quality, longer life, higher price,
more skill in production, proper returns for both
producer and consumer” (Minney, 2012 p.173)
fashion clothing. In past, the New Zealand
Government have made a campaign endorsing
consumers to buy kiwi made products. This
“campaign aimed at promoting consumer
awareness of kiwi made products by encouraging
domestic producers to label their goods New
Zealand made” (Green Party of Aotearoa New
Zealand, 2007). This New Zealand made approach

is a good way to encourage the growth and
sustainability of the New Zealand fashion and
manufacturing industry.
New Zealand needs to keep promoting New
Zealand made designers, as the global fashion
industry is highly competitive and dominant. It is up
to New Zealand designers to keep producing a
unique fashion flavour such as utilising quality New
Zealand materials to make a difference, innovative
design concepts to stand out from the global
crowd and further incorporate our cultural and
indigenous Maori heritage to create a more
prominent New Zealand style. It is vital to keep
creating more awareness for the consumer of how
important it is to keep purchasing quality New
Zealand made garments, as through modern
globalisation buyers have unlimited choice and
supply to global brands and low cost mass
produced fashion. This attitude needs to change
with a focus on buying quality over quantity, in the
hopes of sustaining a viable future for the New
Zealand Fashion industry. In turn, New Zealand
fashion designers need to continue to offer a point
of difference in their designs to ensure there
continues to be a loyal and growing market for
their garments.

Barron, J. (2016). Melissa Williams-Lamb owner of New Zealand fashion
from http://www.baybuzz.co.nz/archives/8261/

brand KILT. Digital image. Retrieved

Britomart,. (2014). WORLD store in Britomart, Auckland. Digital image. Retrieved from http://britomart.org/
shopping/world
Cambridge Dictionaries Online. (2016). Definition of ‘globalization’. Retrieved from http://
dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/globalization
Corner, P. (2001). Improving the performance of New Zealand SMEs: Measures for success. Retrieved from
http://www.uabr.auckland.ac.nz/files/articles/volume3/v3i2-improving-smes.pdf
Getty images,. (2013). New Zealand Fashion Week 2013 Gul Agis's collection. Digital image. Retrieved from
http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/fashion/9179792/Rip-off-designer-responds
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Buy Kiwi Made Media Campaign. Retrieved from https://
home.greens.org.nz/factsheets/buy-kiwi-made-media-campaign
Hammonds, L., Jenkins, D. L., & Regnault, C. (2010). The Dress Circle New Zealand Fashion Design since 1940.
Auckland, New Zealand: Random House New Zealand.
Hill, R. (2012). New Zealand’s Dark Obsession. Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/
article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10787448
Kazi, T. (2011). Superbrands, Globalisation and Neoliberalism: Exploring causes and consequences of the Nike
superbrand. Retrieved from http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/604/superbrands-globalization-andneoliberalism-exploring-causes-and-consequences-of-the-nike-superbrand
KILT. (2014). KILT story. Retrieved from http://www.kiltonline.co.nz/page/kilt-story.aspx
Lassig, A. (2010). New Zealand Fashion Design. New Zealand, Wellington: Te Papa Press.
Macatta, M. (2015). Possibility for the realization of entire natural resources economic value to benefit the
nation. Retrieved from http://businesstimes.co.tz/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=4837:possibility-for-the-realisation-of-entire-natural-resourceseconomic-value-to-benefit-the-nation-&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=57
Mcfarlane, N. (2013). Rip off or inspiration? Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/fashion/9175436/
Rip-off-or-inspiration
Minney, S. (2012). Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution. Oxford, United Kingdom: New
Internationalist.
Miromoda. (2016). Miromoda Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.miromoda.com
New Zealand Tourism. (n.d). NZ’s style sisters – Nom*D and Zambesi. Retrieved from http://
media.newzealand.com/en/story-ideas/nzs-style-sisters-nom-d-and-zambesi/
Nisen, M. (2013). Why the Bangladesh factory collapse would never have happened to Nike. Retrieved from
http://www.businessinsider.com.au/how-nike-solved-its-sweatshop-problem-2013-5?r=US&IR=T
Novak, Milla. (Photographer). (2016, April, 24). New Zealand Designer Karen Walker dress flying in the wind.
Taranaki, New Zealand: Milla Novak Photography.
Piggott, R. (2002). New Zealand, 100% Pure. The creation of a powerful niche destination brand. The Journal
of Brand Management. 9 (2).

8

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REFERENCES

Pinterest,. (2015). New Zealand Fashion Week ZAMBESI collection. Digital image. Retrieved from http://
www.fq.co.nz/fashion/fashion-week/fq-post-show-thoughts-zambesi-2
Ramey, J. (1998). Nike unfurls anti sweatshop measures. Retrieved from http://www.its.caltech.edu/~xiuqin/
strategy/Nike-sweatshop.htm
Reid, C (2014). Introducing New Zealand Fashion. Retrieved from https://i-d.vice.com/en_au/article/
introducing-new-zealand-fashion
Sierra Trading Post. (2016). Born in Nature. Retrieved from http://www.sierratradingpost.com/
icebreaker~b~10021/
Walker, Z. (2011). What is New Zealand’s fashion identity? Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/
news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10748346
Willams, B. (2011). Kerry Wanoa’s Whiri label. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/fashion/5549003/
Kerry-Wanoas-Whiri-label
Werry, M. (2011). The Tourist State: Performing Leisure, Liberalism, and Race in New Zealand. Minneapolis,
United States: University of Minnesota Press.


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