Best foot forward - New Zealand Fashion businesses are leading a global shift

For many established brands, becoming a sustainable business – environmentally, socially and culturally – requires a fresh perspective. They would do well to look to the New Zealand fashion industry.

"We purposely set out to do something that would actually make people think about what they were doing," says Peri Drysdale, who paved the way for sustainable clothing over 30 years ago. A member of Mindful Fashion, her brand Untouched World is the first lifestyle fashion company to be recognised for sustainability by the United Nations.

Designer Kiri Nathan, whose eponymous label has been offering bespoke, limited-edition collections of heirloom and whakapapa pieces for more than 10 years, says everyone in the fashion industry is trying to work towards a better outcome and a better space, “and anyone that’s not is seriously not going to survive".

The New Zealand fashion industry is traditionally fractured – but that is set to change with Mindful Fashion New Zealand. Designer Kate Sylvester co-founded the collective in 2018, to build an innovative, full-circle and thriving clothing and textile industry. "Ideally, we want to get fabric being made here in New Zealand again, so that we aren't reliant on overseas markets," she says. "Consumers want to buy local product, and so I think there's a real will from all sides to grow our local industry again."

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