by Maureen Molloy and Wendy Larner
List of Figures and Credits ix
Series Editors’ Preface xiv
1 What We Saw and Why We Started this Project 1
2 Global Aspirations: Theorising the New Zealand
Designer Fashion Industry 19
3 Policy for a New Economy: ‘After Neoliberalism’
and the Designer Fashion Industry 43
with Richard Le Heron and Nick Lewis
4 Cultivating Urbanity: Fashion in a Not-so-global City 69
with Alison Goodrum
5 Gendering the ‘Virtuous Circle’: Production, Mediation
and Consumption in the Cultural Economy 99
6 Creating Global Subjects: The Pedagogy of Fashionability 125
7 Lifestyle or Workstyle? Female Entrepreneurs in
New Zealand Designer Fashion 153
8 Conclusion: An Unlikely Success Story? 179
Frizzell and Momentum Gallery. 7
Figure 1.2 Style Council. Photograph by and courtesy of
Monty Adams. 11
Figure 3.1 ‘Back to Black’ Dresses from New Zealand Four,
London Fashion Week 1999. Courtesy of
The New Zealand Fashion Museum. 52
Figure 4.1 Auckland Viaduct Events Centre. Courtesy of the
Viaduct Events Centre. 73
Figure 4.2 Bobbie Jarvis models a gown imported to New Zealand
from England and designed for the Coronation
celebrations, 1953. Photograph from personal
collection of the model. 75
Figure 4.3 High Street Auckland fashion precinct. Photograph
by and courtesy of Ally Larner. 78
Figure 4.4 Auckland designer fashion retail outlets, 2006.
Map courtesy of Nick Lewis. 79
Figure 4.5 Final check. Courtesy of New Zealand Fashion Week. 87
Figure 4.6 Photographer at Fashion Festival. Courtesy of
New Zealand Fashion Week. 87
Figure 4.7 Crowd at Fashion Festival. Courtesy of New Zealand
Fashion Week. 88
Figure 4.8 Advertisement for Air New Zealand Fashion Week 2006.
Courtesy of Air New Zealand. 90
Figure 5.1 Make-up artist gives model final touch up. Courtesy
of New Zealand Fashion Week. 104
Figure 5.2 Volunteer’s meeting, New Zealand Fashion Week.
Courtesy of New Zealand Fashion Week. 115
Figure 6.1 President Bill Clinton wearing a Snowy Peak merino
shirt at APEC 1999. Photograph courtesy of
The New Zealand Herald. 136
Figure 6.2 Prime Minister Helen Clark in the winning costume
from the World of Wearable Arts. Photograph by
and courtesy of Tina Smigielski. 139
Figure 6.3 What the Frock! Designer fashion meets local politics.
Courtesy of ACP Media. 144
Figure 6.4 NZ to NYC: Blogger Isaac Hindin-Miller now does
a regular column for The New York Times. Photograph
by Noah Emrich, courtesy of Isaac Hindin-Miller. 148
Figure 7.1 Annah Stretton’s Pink magazine. Courtesy of Annah
Stretton. Pink Magazine Spring/Summer 2010
© Stretton Publishing. 175
The global fashion industry has recently undergone a significant change in form and content. Over the past ten years a gap has opened up between the increasing spectacle and decreasing practicality of haute couture, and the ubiquity of designer diffusion lines. It is being filled by what New Zealand designer Karen Walker calls ‘high casual’ clothing. This clothing typically originates in small to medium sized privately owned firms that produce small runs of high quality original garments in named and themed seasonal collections. Designers of this scale and target markets are now operating successfully in and out of New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Canada and a range of other countries not traditionally associated with fashion. The opening up of this gap arises from many things: the relative ease, and indeed necessity, of doing business internationally; changes in the organisation and modes of working for the aspiring middle classes; the opening up of new occupations, including those of mediation and representation; the turn to culture and creativity as privileged modes of being in the developed world; and the consequent emergence of new kinds of global subjects. All of these are underpinned by massive changes in women’s lives and careers during the past 30 years.
This book analyses these claims through the exemplary case of the New Zealand designer fashion industry. An unexpected economic success story, this rapidly growing export oriented industry is overwhelmingly dominated by women as designers, design studio employees, wholesale and public relations agents, industry officials, fashion writers and editors, as well as the more traditionally acknowledged gendered roles of garment workers, tastemakers and consumers. Drawing on over seven years of in-depth multimethod, triangulated, empirical research, including a comprehensive archive of media, policy and industry texts, over 50 semi-structured interviews with designers, buyers, public relations agents, intellectual property lawyers, industry specialists, government officials and other associated occupations and participant observation at four successive New Zealand Fashion Weeks, the book shows how the designer fashion industry’s innovative designs, explosive growth and global focus have been harnessed to broader ambitions to build a globalising knowledge-based economy in New Zealand and rebrand the country as creative, cutting edge and sophisticated. In successive chapters we examine the rise to prominence of a group of young, largely self-employed, women designers in the late 1980s and reveal how their new, niche market, export orientation has transformed policy formulations, urban geographies, economic and industry formation, fashion and fashionability and workplace relations.
Our analysis of the New Zealand designer fashion industry underlines the point that the economy/culture production/consumption split that continues to run through broader literatures on globalisation, clothing and fashion is untenable. This industry involves producing garments and images for consumption and consuming garments and images for production. Consequently the ongoing separation of the material and symbolic, the economic and cultural, the producer and consumer is getting in the way of developing the accounts we need to understand these new gendered firms emerging in the global fashion industry. From this starting point the book retheorises the gendering of globalisation by challenging in consecutive chapters accepted explanations for the rise of globalising cultural and creative industries such as designer fashion, the assumed characteristics of ‘creative cities’, the relationships between production and consumption, the emergence of new feminised entrepreneurial subjects. At the very heart of our account is the claim that there are as-yet-not understood connections between first world women’s entry into paid employment and globalising processes. This study of New Zealand fashion demonstrates that economic globalisation, the movement of middle class women into the labour force and the changing structure of the clothing industry are not only coterminous but intrinsically connected.
Finally, and to forestall an obvious and immediate criticism, while it might be assumed that such a small industry in a tiny country at the bottom of the South Pacific must be inconsequential to understanding global processes, it is precisely the improbability of this industry which has forced us to question gendered accounts of globalisation and exposed blind spots in existing literatures on globalisation, the cultural and creative industries and fashion studies. We also know that the rise of these small entrepreneurial fashion firms is increasingly widespread, particularly in North American, European and Asian countries not historically associated with fashion, and that this rise is being harnessed to broader creative industries and economic development strategies. By tracking the ways the New Zealand designer fashion industry is globalising, this book transforms understandings of the processes of globalisation, the significance of first world women’s entry into the labour force and the designer fashion industry itself. The book thus makes three major contributions to economic geography and broader social science literatures: It makes a conceptual contribution to the literatures on globalisation, fashion and gender by explicating the ways in which first world women’s entry into the labour force over the past 30 years has underpinned new forms of aetheticised production and consumption. It is an important contribution to the burgeoning literature on culture and creative industries which virtually ignores the fact that these industries, including designer fashion, are highly structured by gender with women, for the first time, playing significant roles as entrepreneurs, designers, cultural mediators and policy makers, as well as their more traditional roles as consumers and factory workers. It introduces fashion scholars and economic geographers to a paradigmatic example of the new designer fashion industries emerging in a range of countries not traditionally associated with fashion.