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Fashionistas Geared Up To Launch Own Labels

January 11, 2018

NZ Diploma in Fashion graduates Marlana Nepe and Ash McKenzie turning dreams into reality

Completing a NZ Diploma in Fashion at EIT’s Tairawhiti campus was the first step towards living the dream for two Gisborne women, who are joining forces to establish their own fashion studio in Gisborne.

Marlana Nepe and Ash McKenzie celebrated their success with a well-received fashion show to launch their own labels – Lane and Rose Ash.

Ash’s Rose Ash style features street wear with a creative edge, featuring her own hand printed fabric designs. Marlana Lane design style is what she describes as more alternative.  Those in the show featured her own logo, digitally printed onto the fabric.

Thanks to the intensive one-year programme at EIT, they can do everything from drawing, designing and pattern making to the actual construction of the garments, which are all finished to a quality better than most chain-store clothes.

As part of their studies, they spent a week in Auckland investigating the New Zealand fashion retail scene, which they say now relies almost entirely on mass-produced clothing imported cheaply from third-world labour factories.

It was this “harsh and cruel” aspect they both vow to shun as they launch into their own operation.

As well as producing their own boutique-style clothing, they plan to place a big emphasis on “repurposing” or up-cycling discarded clothing in a bid to battle the trend towards disposable clothing.

They plan to use only New Zealand-printed material.

Thanks to their field work during the programme, the women learned how to design their own fabric and have it made “very economically” by a manufacturer in Lower Hutt who has a large flat-bed printer.

They have yet to name the studio they plan to open in Gisborne towards the end of the year.  

Their first priority is develop a business plan and source funding for things such as commercial sewing machinery. They are teaming up with ta moko artist Anthony Karauria in what they describe as a collaboration of art, design and fashion.

“The cool thing is that we can work to our strengths,” said Ash.

“Mine are design and illustration and Marlana’s are pattern making and construction, which is a perfect match of skills.”

Or, as Marlana puts it, “Ash is good at working with people and paper work. I am better at making the garments.”

Their course lecturer Sarah Blair, has offered to mentor them through the establishment process.

They say she has already been a fantastic teacher on what has been an intensive learning process, including mastery of technology such as the Adobe Illustrator computer programme.

Before studying  fashion at EIT, Ash was a secretary at Patutahi School and Marlana was a stay-at-home mum making fashion accessories who dreamed of branching into clothing.

“I found out about this programme and now I am able to do the designs that were stuck in my head and start making them,” she said.

Already their work is getting a fantastic response. Their clothing launch was paraded before an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 people in EIT’s Toru Restaurant. Marlene’s designs were themed “Out Casts” and Ash chose the theme “Alice in Wonderland”.

“We are targeting a different market,” says Marlana.