At the beginning of the year, Critic spoke to the designers of Twenty-Seven Names, Anjali Stewart and Rachel Easting, when they showed at iD Dunedin Fashion week. Last week, they exhibited their Winter collection on the national stage at what has become New Zealand’s premier industry event, New Zealand Fashion Week. Going without a principal sponsor for the past two years, organisers have announced that the future of the event is threatened. I spoke to Anjali the morning after their show about the effect the loss would have on their brand and more.
How much sleep have you had this week?
Heaps of sleep. We are pretty hard out when it comes to food and sleep. I think maybe I had about five hours
Critic spoke to you at the beginning of the year during Dunedin fashion week, how has life been since then?
It has been really busy. This year has seen Fashion week move forward a whole month to the end of September to the end of August. It has been quite difficult to push everything forward so dramatically because we drop our Summer collection in the last week of August and we drop our Winter at the same time now. It has been a big challenge.
The organisers obviously brought Fashion Week forward in light of the world cup, have you noticed increased interest due to the upcoming event?
No. I think there have been a couple of buyers who have been able to come over because the timing hasn’t clashed but the delegates list is a lot smaller than usual.
Really, why is that?
It is New York Fashion Week at the moment or next [this] week so it is hard to get people over here and a lot of big designers such as Nom*D aren’t showing this year.
The organiser of NZ fashion week has come out and said that the future of the event is in jeopardy if they don’t get any more funding, what effect has it had on the development of your label?
It has been huge for us, really massive. It is a way to let as many New Zealanders know about the brand, to put your work in front of buyers and media who would otherwise not know about you. Then if you carry on every year consecutively they get to know your style and what the label is about and see it in the way you want it to be presented.
I think that what is difficult is that if they do decide not to go through with Fashion week as it is at this time of the year, it is going to change the climate for buying the winter season in New Zealand. I will be interested to see what is going to happen. I spoke to the Mayor about it at the opening evening on Monday and they are keen to get behind it, but I don’t know what capacity the Auckland City Council has to facilitate or sponsor or what level they can come to the party on that. I will be very interested to see what happens there.
What can we expect to see in your collection this year?
The show we did last night was Winter 2012. We have done a lot of handprinted silks. They are all very hand detailed like we have got a print with peace signs and camelias and a hand-painted silk stripe, a lot of silk georgettes, and a lot of luxe fabrics with matt finishes. What else? We have trademark blazers and blouses.
What was the inspiration behind the collection?
Basically, what we wanted to do for the exhibition was to create a room with the print the garment was made in so it was a trick of the eye. All the prints we have used this season were the backdrops for the shoots. We wanted to create a 3D portrait. For the last five seasons, we have done a series of portraits to campaign the range. This year, that is also what we did and Rachel did some drawings. That is how we showcased the range this year.
I am always interested to see how designers juxtapose music against their collections, what music did you play at your show?
I made a three hour track list with my brother in the end. We had Big K.R.I.T, Beastie Boys, Big Boy, Outkast, Tupac that sort of thing.
Working in a pair with Rachel, does it complicate things?
It makes it awesome. Everything is shared to a degree. Rachel and I have known each other since we were nine years old. If a situation comes up we have always got each others’ backs. We definitely clash about some design decisions but it all get ironed out when the range is done.
By the look of your blog, you have been on a bit of trip. Where did you go?
In 2009, we won the Air New Zealand Export Award and we got sponsored to go over to Europe. We started working with ASOS and this is our second season with them working with the buyers with them. At the same time we had a bit of a holiday and went to Rome and Berlin and Amsterdam and stuff like that. It was really awesome.
Did you just say you are working with ASOS?
Yes, we are stocked online. Last year, they took Winter and this year, they have taken on our Summer collection. It is awesome, but you can never count your chickens with things like that. We have to wait and see but I want it to be a long-term thing.
How is it working out so far?
It is working out really well. They have only had the range for a short amount of time but we have got really good feedback so it is going to well.
What are your plans for the rest of 2011?
We are kind of a month ahead at the moment so we have time to take stock and decide what to do. We want to do something massive for Summer, but we haven’t decided at what capacity. We are currently at the design stage but we are thinking quite seriously about the Japanese market. We have decided to take it one market at a time at this stage.
Here’s a sample of the rest of the collection: