5 promising New Zealand fashion designers to have on your radar (if they aren’t already)

15 May 2018
By Fashion Quarterly

Already making it on the New Zealand fashion scene, five promising designers share the philosophies that underpin their latest offerings.


Ovna Ovich

Since launching Ovna Ovich in 2012, designer Marina Davis has been committed to creating environmentally and socially aware work with a story to tell. Preferring to “eschew trends in favour of quality, tactility and unexpected details”, Marina predominantly works with natural fibres like linen and silk, and all garments are made locally using production techniques that minimise waste.

In 2017, Ovna Ovich made its solo debut at New Zealand Fashion Week with a ’70s-tinged collection of playful proportions, fine locally spun merino knits and hand-dyed denim pieces. The show led to the label gaining representation at on-the-pulse online retailer Garmentory, and you can expect more big things from Marina this year as she shifts focus into growing sales internationally.


Ovna Ovich delivers comfort and quality with unexpected details in natural fibres such as linen and silk.


Rachel Mills

Another designer challenging the industry model with a slower, more thoughtful approach is Rachel Mills. “I’m extremely passionate about the actual making that goes into a garment,” she explains. “I want more everyday people to be aware of just how much time, effort, skill and care this takes.”

Rachel’s polished, functional and versatile pieces are created locally from deadstock and organic fabrics, and a key aim for the label is to help customers better understand the ethical and environmental issues involved with mainstream garment production.

This educational ethos took a literal turn last year when Rachel ran a series of well-attended patternmaking and sewing classes, and aspiring designers will be pleased to know she’s looking to “grow that into an even bigger project” in 2018.

fashion-futures-rachel-mills-2With a conscious approach to the making process, Rachel Mills turns deadstock and organic fabrics into functional, wearable pieces.

fashion-futures-jared-goodman1Jarrad Godman

Experimental patternmaking and intellectual design based on biology, psychology and self-deprecating humour are the cornerstones of Jarrad Godman’s eponymous label.

After graduating from AUT, Jarrad found early support in Jimmy D designer James Dobson — and it’s easy to see why. Fans of James’ smart, irreverent, neo-goth vibes will find plenty to love about Jarrad’s work too.

His attention to detail is evident in the custom silk print used in AW18 collection The Garden, with the designer spending “countless hours” digitally placing thousands of flowers and hundreds of hidden insects over a large area to ensure no two garments are the same. “The longer you look at the print, the more interesting things you’ll find.”

fashion-futures-jared-goodman2Jarrad Godman put the petal to the metal, digitally arranging thousands of flowers and insects for his silk print (below).



Inspired by utility, form and function, Shjark founder Amber Gardner designs for “strong, busy women needing clothes to get shit done in”.

Experience as a menswear designer and pattern cutter at Crane Brothers and Workshop comes through in Amber’s favouring of clean lines and impeccable tailoring — think beautifully cut tobacco-hued coats, slinky bow blouses and classic indigo denim.

On top of launching an organic range later in the year, Amber has another exciting development in the works: a Shjark retail store in Auckland’s Grey Lynn. “I work hard to design each season as a complete modular wardrobe and this will be more evident in a beautiful retail space,” she explains. “Our clients can get the full Shjark experience and also a peep into my working studio.”

fashion-futures-shjark2All strong lines and flawless tailoring, Shjark promises feminine elegance with bite.


Jojo Ross

I’ve never been a visually inspired designer so my inspirations always come from concepts, words, visceral ideas,” explains Jojo Ross, who many will recognise for her sculptural, sci-fi-inspired custom and one-off pieces.

Although now creating ready-to-wear, Jojo’s conceptual past still weaves its way into her work. Her latest collection was inspired by a single sentence in a short story by English author Will Self, describing a huge and opulent high-rise building. Jojo says of the story, “It felt so ’80s and surreal and slightly unnerving, so [the collection] is my take on ’80s power dressing, with some industrial and digital influences… there’s definitely a tongue-in-cheek aspect to it too.”

fashion-futures-jojo-ross2Tongue-in-chic: Jojo Ross’ take on ’80s power dressing is inspired by science fiction.
Words: Katie May Ruscoe
Photos: Supplied

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