Fashion and time move at the same pace; in fact, one marks the other. Fashion directly responds to the cultural, religious, and political issues that define a society. As the time changes, fashion also changes. Fashion design is a global industry, and is one of the keys to general economic development. However, the industry is underdeveloped in most countries. For instance, the fashion design industry in New Zealand is not fully developed; there is lack of unity which hinders the industry’s growth. There are various players in the Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ). This paper focuses on the Fashion Label Zambesi, its collections, the market position, and future growth prospects. It also highlights the pros and cons of being a fashion label in New Zealand.
Zambesi is a leading fashion label in New Zealand with instantly recognizable (though difficult to categorize), influential, creative, and elusive designs (Zambesi, 2006). It was founded in 1979 by husband and wife Elisabeth and Neville Findlay. Since then, the company has possessed a consistent and unique brand with one collection smoothly flowing into each other as the cloth is draped and cut (Zambesi, 2006). Zambesi is one of the country’s foremost fashion houses, with a variety of New Zealand and international avant-garde labels for women and men (Wellington, 2012). It is one of the four New Zealand labels (New Zealand Four) that showed in the 1999 London Fashion Week, portraying New Zealand as a serious player on the international fashion stage (Techlink, 2007).
Fashion Label Zambesi is respected in the global market for beauty, strength and independence. According to Elisabeth Findlay, the cloths evoke emotion and intrigue (3News, 2012). The men’s collection offers a masculine interpretation and conveys a modern influence; “they are clothes to wear every day, but not everyday clothes” (3News, 2012).
Type of business
Fashion Label Zambesi is a limited liability company owned by Elisabeth and Neville Findlay. Neville Findlay is the company’s CEO while Elisabeth Findlay is a Co Director. The key designers are Elisabeth Findlay and Dayne Johnston. Findlay is inspired by the fabrics. Her work is instinctive, carefully choosing cloths in unexpected directions. Her designs are inventive and have textural contrasts, exciting constructions and de-constructions, and dynamic layering. They often have a nod to eclectic, vintage sensibilities (Zambesi, 2006). Johnston is the brain behind Zambesi menswear. His designs result in exceptionally well cut, wearable, and conspicuous garments with clever detailing. The unique features are precisely blended with the tailored nods to utilitarian or traditional menswear past, to give a refined masculine style (Zambesi, 2006).
The cloths are made at the Zambesi Workroom Ltd in Auckland city, New Zealand. The company has flagship stores in Auckland and Wellington (New Zealand), and Sydney and Melbourne (Australia). Besides, it supplies over 50 selected outlets in USA, UK, France, Russia, and Japan. Other than the Zambesi label, other labels available in the stores include Nom D, Maison Martin Margiela, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, DrkShdw, Complex Geometries, Costume National Fragrances, LD Tuttle, N.D.C. Shoes, Serge Thoraval, Welfe, and William Griffiths (Zambesi Store, 2012).
Customers can make wholesale purchases or retail purchases. Besides, it has an online store for online purchases. Other than the available designs, an individual or a company may request for a specific unique design. The design is then tailored according to client’s specifications. New Zealand Airline is one of the companies that have ordered for specific designs. The airline ordered for a design that reflects its culture and history, and they got exactly that!
Zambesi Spring/Summer 2012-13
The summer collections are designed according to consumer needs, and above all, the feeling of goodness. The garments are softly-fitted and relaxed to give a moody and poetic sensibility. There is slouchy fragility, and the suiting and vinyl work against type. The toughness is diffused in tailored pieces which creates the feeling of freshness and simplicity. The combination of silk-cotton, lace and mesh brings out the real delicacy. The pictures of these collections are given in the appendix.
For the Zambesi woman, the trousers conform and never restrict. The skirts are oversized, sweaters shrink-cropped, cardigans zip-fronted, and sleeveless vests. For the Zambesi man, contrast is critical. The fabrics are matched and mixed with assertiveness. The suiting is less abstract.
The market position and future growth prospects
Zambesi is one of the “New Zealand Four.” It is a dominant player in the domestic market. Its presence is also significant in the international market. Its participation in the London Fashion Week creates an image of New Zealand as serious player on the international fashion stage. In simple terms, Zambesi label is “blueblood New Zealand fashion aristocracy” (Techlink, 2007). The company is highly innovative and the designs create room for aesthetic maneuvering. The constraints of economy and practicality do not affect the designs in any way. This has made the label gain competitive advantage; it is the reason why various companies approach Zambesi for their designs. The future of Zambesi label is very bright, both in the domestic and international market.
The Fashion Industry New Zealand
FINZ acts on behalf of both the designer fashion industry and the wider apparel industry. It encourages collaboration between members; provides industry information and resources; develops relationships with other stakeholders such as the government departments, media, and industry organizations; and, work in partnership with the education providers (FINZ website).
The creative industry in general, and the designer fashion, in particular, has been recognized by the New Zealand government as important in economic development. The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) works with industry groups and businesses to boost their capabilities and facilitate a sustained and profitable participation in both domestic and overseas markets. The NZTE believes in the creative industries as key to the country’s economic growth, significantly contributing to the country’s world class capability and leveraging the country’s unique culture. The industry positions the country as a nation of new ideas and new thinking, and generates wealth on a sustained basis to the people of New Zealand.
With all these considerations, it’s worth noting that the designer fashion industry in New Zealand is lucrative. Though relatively young as compared to the well established apparel industry, the designer fashion industry requires greater emphasis on design and creativity for its success. The main benefits include government support, the reputation of the New Zealand brand, and the shared use of resources.
Benefits of being a fashion label in New Zealand
The industry has greatly received government attention and support. The government believes that the fashion design industry is potential in economic development. The government’s interest is directed through trade organizations like NZTE. The fashion business specifically identifies itself with the country, thus attracts support from other agencies Brand New Zealand.
The New Zealand brand reputation is another advantage. The country has been constantly marketed to the outside world through trade and tourism initiatives. This has created a brand that is internationally recognized. By identifying with the country, one positively associates with the New Zealand brand image, which in turn results into global recognition. The New Zealand brand and New Zealanders in general, are recognized as innovative, environment friendly, and with unique way of doing things.
Another benefit that accrues to the fashion labels in New Zealand is the shared use of resources. As an individual, it is immensely expensive to carry out marketing strategies and public relations, especially to the outside world. When approached as a group, it becomes easy and simple in terms of expenses and logistics. The marketing efforts of NZTE benefit the entire industry. Besides, the designers’ group approaches in such activities as exhibition and research minimizes the expenses.
One of the disadvantages of being a fashion label in New Zealand is loss of identity. The country has built a brand image, and the labels are associated to the country’s brand image despite the unique identity of every single label. By grouping the designers together and marketing them under one body, a commonality is created between the designers. This undermines the uniqueness of every brand. The fashion industry is identified with its uniqueness, and any attempt to establish commonality is a perfect recipe for failure. The industry cannot thrive when all the labels are linked to one image; the New Zealand brand image. Designers must therefore do their things individually in order to succeed.
Another disadvantage of the fashion industry is its competitive nature. Fashion design is highly competitive and dynamic, thus the designers must at all times be up to date in terms of time and technological advancements. The designs and ideas compete in the marketplace on the basis of limited interests and demands. When viewed together as the “New Zealand brand”, every design loses its competitive advantage. The reputation of every label is tied to that of the general brand, which puts the labels at the most risky position shall the reputation of the “New Zealand brand” reduce.
FINZ. The Fashion Industry New Zealand [website]. Retrieved August 21, 2012 from http://www.finz.co.nz
MED. Ministry of Economic Development [website]. Retrieved August 21, 2012 from http://www.med.govt.nz/
Techlink. (2007). Technological Practice Case Study: Air NZ/Zambesi. Retrieved August 21, 2012 from http://www.techlink.org.nz/Case-studies/Technological-practice/Soft-Materials/Print-PDFs/techlink-tp-zambesi.pdf
Wellington New Zealand. (2012). Zambesi. Retrieved August 21, 2012 from http://www.wellingtonnz.com/shopping/zambesi
Zambesi. (2006). Zambesi Profile. Retrieved August 21, 2012 from http://www.zambesi.co.nz/profile/
3News. (2012). New Zealand Fashion Week 2012: Zambesi. Retrieved August 29, 2012 from http://www.3news.co.nz/NZ-Fashion-Week-2012-Zambesi/tabid/1733/articleID/266230/Default.aspx
Zambesi Store (2012). Zambesi Workroom Ltd. Retrieved August 29, 2012 from http://www.zambesistore.com/
Summer 2012-13 for women
Summer 2012-13 for men
Winter 2012 for men & women
The Zambesi Eyewear