New Zealand Fashion Week returning in 2023 with new focus on consumers, sustainability and te ao Māori

Composite of past NZ Fashion Week models and designs
Celebrating and showcasing the best of Aotearoa's fashion, the "reimagined event" is set to take place from late August to early September. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Supplied

After a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand Fashion Week has announced it will finally return in 2023. 

Celebrating and showcasing the best of Aotearoa's fashion, the "reimagined event" is set to take place from late August to early September at the Viaduct Events Centre on Auckland's waterfront. 

It will mark the first Fashion Week post-pandemic, with the last event held in 2019. Despite being slated to make its return last year, continued efforts to protect the country against COVID-19 forced its cancellation. 

It also marks the first Fashion Week under a new owner and new leadership. After launching the first New Zealand Fashion Week in 2001, founder Dame Pieter Stewart sold the event to businessman Feroz Ali in 2021 and last year, the mogul hung up her high fashion for a new path in philanthropy. 

With a new haute couture head at the helm, this year's event promises to be "bigger and better than ever before", presenting a "redesigned and reimagined" showcase, general manager Yasmin Farry said in a statement to media.

Traditionally a trade-only show, the new format will have a more consumer-friendly focus, allowing the general public the opportunity to attend more shows than before and sit alongside industry moguls and designers. 

"We've had a beautiful opportunity to regroup, to work collaboratively with the industry to redesign and reimagine this iconic event. What's even more exciting is the early commitment and support from some of New Zealand's emerging and top designers to participate in this year's event," Farry added. 

"It's been years since our designers, models, make-up artists, stylists and photographers have had the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world, so we are very excited that New Zealand Fashion Week is back on the agenda for 2023."

Iconic local fashion designer Kate Sylvester has already committed to showcasing her latest designs on the revamped runway. In a statement, she expressed her excitement for the relaunch of the event, which will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Sylvester's eponymous brand that has become rooted in Aotearoa's fashion heritage. 

"We are very excited to celebrate our 30-year milestone as part of NZ Fashion Week and be part of the relaunch of such an important event for our industry. Fashion Week has played a significant role in our brand history and brought to life some of our most iconic runway shows," she said in a statement.

Sustainability, innovation, inclusivity and digital technologies will also be key focus areas for this year's event, including the cementation of a "sustainable and long-term partnership" with mana whenua, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, to amplify Māori voices and honour Te Tiriti, te ao Māori and tikanga Māori.

The new partnership presents an opportunity for the event's cultural identity to evolve, Farry said, and increased collaboration between the industry and mana whenua will help to nurture and champion emerging designers. 

"The development of a partnership built on reciprocity presents an opportunity for NZ Fashion Week to build our cultural competency and ensure the indigenous Māori voice is amplified throughout NZ Fashion Week," she added.

New Zealand Fashion Week also said it is committed to supporting Aotearoa's evolving circular fashion ecosystem, a sustainable model that prioritises the reuse and recycling of fashion for the benefit of the planet. 

Since its inception in 2001, Fashion Week's goal has been to provide a launching pad for designers to grow their businesses both nationally and internationally, evolving from a trade and industry event to a multifaceted fashion, arts and culture showcase with an active audience of more than 25,000 attendees. 

NZ Fashion Week 2023 will be held August 29 - September 2 at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland.