I Survived My First NZ Fashion Week – Here’s What Happened

Kate Hall

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Until a few weeks ago, I was the fashion blogger who’d never been to a fashion show before. Embarrassing! Of course, I’d seen pictures, heard stories, and watched them in movies, but I’d never actually attended one.


Last month I was accepted as a delegate for New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW), I did a little happy dance and prepared my armband floaties so I would survive being thrown into the deep end.

NZ Fashion Week

My armband floaties came in the form of Instagram polls debating what to wear, baking zero waste scones for my packed lunches (what I imagine all fashion week attendees do), and researching brands I’d never heard of before.

The Sunday before it all began, I was freaking out. What if I hated it? What if I didn’t look the part? Worst of all, what if I was an outsider?

I was most definitely an outsider.

Surprisingly, I didn’t leave the week feeling down in the dumps for not being part of the cool-kids-club (there were so many cool-kids-clubs, I wouldn’t know where to apply first). I left feeling secure in myself as a human being and blogger.

Want to know why? Read on.

Day 1:

If I filmed my week as a documentary, the audience would have facepalmed if they’d seen a panning shot of me on the morning of the first day.

Day 1 attire: Pink fluffy dressing gown with white love hearts. A staple work-from-home piece you’ll never find in Vogue; it’s too daring.

I spent the morning pumping out work so that I could feasibly make it through the week without falling asleep in the bathroom mid-shows. FYI: Sleeping in the bathroom was still considered several times throughout the week.

Mid arvo, I jumped on the bus and made my way to the NZFW official opening party. A bold vintage two piece from a second-hand shop (see my NZFW stories) meant I stood out in a sea of black.

Guys, apparently black is still the new black. Yawn.

Final thoughts. Uneventful, apart from freaking out the maintenance guys by being okay with peeing while they fixed the bathroom.

ethical fashion

Wearing: Kowtow dress, Eba Totes bag, Bohome and Roam accessories and Hello Darling shoes

Day 2:

Perhaps the most thrilling event of the week: I spoke on a panel about ethical fashion.

This event was not associated with NZFW but strategically placed. The ‘Let’s Get Ethical’ talk involved seven ethical fashion lovers, experts, and gurus, chatting about issues, problems, and solutions in the space.


The audience also piped up when they wished. We had hard conversations, ‘ah-hah!” moments and the audience left invigorated and wanting more. I feel this chat was the catalyst for several streams of progress in New Zealand ethical fashion.

First fashion show: Tick. Loved it.

A local girl’s high school opened with goosebump worthy song, models came in on skateboards, there were bright prints, and I had a great seat.


Twenty-Seven Names create conscious fashion, hidden by a mainstream image. I love brands who don’t box themselves into an ‘eco’ niche, but identify themselves as pure fashion; made as it should be.

Rachel Mills’ moody installation show. Picture deadstock fabrics, natural dyes, and models wearing second-hand shoes, because why would you buy new shoes to be worn once?

I drooled over ethical Swimwear by Aurai and Salty Sea. I shed a small tear of happiness when breast cancer survivors rocked the runway wearing Aurai’s mastectomy friendly swimwear.

Edmund Hilary’s brand values left me impressed: made to stand the test of time. Though, it made me sad to read this; shouldn’t every item made, have intentions of lasting forever?

Bus back home. 1 hour later, I was in bed feeling like it was Friday.

NZ fashion week

Image via NZ Fashion Week

Day 3:

The day started with fresh new designers and questionable designs which are mostly runway only wearable.

Thought of the day: The definition of a runway show; brands spend $30,000+ for a spot in the show. Six months (minimum) are spent designing, creating, making, and organising. They’ll fork out another $10,000+ on model fees, photographers, props, and miscellaneous expenses. The show involves models who do not represent the body types of most of the human population, wearing clothes that can only be worn by the rich and famous at Hollywood parties. The show lasts all of 3 minutes. It took 40 minutes to get everyone into the venue.

Are you as confused as I am?

The week was a week of firsts. My first ever fashion show AND my first ever fashion show on a yacht.

hej hej mixed things up with six models standing informally on the top deck, so we could walk around the sides and check out their gorgeous garments up close.

ethical fashion
hej hej Cruise

With a fruity alcoholic drink in hand, this was the only collection out of the whole week that I looked at and thought “I would wear every single one of those outfits.”

I may be biased because it was all linen, but they were freaking beautiful.

The evening ended with an off-site event. Surrounded by model stares and too much khaki, I left before the after-party began.

Day 4:

Fuck heels. Day four involved my favourite pair of boots which are entirely scuffed, have been worn 200+ times and resoled once.

That’s fashion, baby.

I got to see the All Blacks in their underwear. I don’t remember much about the underwear, it wasn’t ethical, so I decided to stare at their naked torsos instead. You know, ethics and everything.


I dashed up to a pop-up opening for Mina and Courtney Pellow: a breath of ethically fresh fashion air.

Envisage New Zealand made, upcycled and natural fabrics, and people who give a shit about who makes the clothes. Not how they look on skinny people under bright lights on a runway.

I could have stayed there all night.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I went to the huge show, and after party, everyone was talking about, and left at 9:30 pm because I hadn’t eaten since Tuesday and my bed texted me saying “I’m waiting.”


Day 5:

NZFW hasn’t had talks and discussions before, BUT this year they did.

Perhaps having ‘Ethically Kate’ on the delegate list made them up their game. Who knows.

10:30 am: “The Future of Fashion”

I went in suspecting they’d only be talking about fashion in general, not ethical fashion; but they did.

They discussed how hard it is to make in New Zealand (you can say that again!), and provided some excellent insight into the reality of many New Zealand brands struggling to keep manufacturing locally.

I was one of two people brave enough (or stupid enough) to ask questions at the end.

I asked if they thought that the future of fashion could change from a consumer level, e.g., teaching them to consume less and expect less new designs and collections, OR if it was a lost cause and we should roll with it and try our best to make fashion sustainably. “YES” was the answer, but how? … I have still to find out.

NZFW surprised me.


Compared to what I expected, there was more noise, less snooty noses, more ethics, and less body type diversity.

I saw a grown man in 6-inch heeled boots up to his thighs, more boobs than I bargained for, and made a promise to myself never to wear a swimsuit under a lace cardigan when I’m more than 50 meters from a beach or pool.

NZFW made me confident in who I am. It reaffirmed my style as an individual, and reinvigorated my drive towards making ethical fashion; simply fashion.

Thank you, NZ Fashion Week, for putting up with the lady who dried her hands on her BYO napkin to boycott the paper towels.

Kate Hall

I live and breathe sustainable living and ethical fashion. This alternative way of consuming and existing dominates my every waking moment- and sometimes more. Ethical fashion and living are no longer my hobbies, it has become my mission... to change the future of fast fashion and the way we consume. My husband and I strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle, live at thrift stores, and always look to 'up-cycle' rather than throw out. Eco-living is not a choice for me, it's in my blood, and I am trying with all my power for it to be the new 'norm'.