Made In New Zealand - Entirely

Complete transparency in production becomes near impossible where certain parts of the process are carried out overseas by third parties. Scarce manufacturing options in NZ are often cited as a key reason for this, but those who outsource are beneficiaries of significantly reduced operational costs which allows them to stay competitive in the mass market. This can be argued to be the actual reason labels choose to outsource. It is possible, however, to make garments entirely here in NZ, and Millie's studies at Massey University showed this. 

"At Massey we learned a lot about sustainability. And the more you know the more you become overwhelmed to the point where you kind of don't know how to make clothes in NZ in an entirely ethical way. 

My major project was about making garments that were entirely made in NZ from natural fibres because that's something I felt was missing from the fashion industry here. There’s a huge process involved when you make clothing and often it's easier to outsource parts of it. As NZ is such a small country, we only really have knitting mills that produce knitted fabric. But even then, a lot of the processing of the wool is done overseas. 

These days if you go and buy any garment there is usually a whole story behind how it ended up hanging in a shop. Each garment will vary slightly with its journey - from seed, to harvesting, to processing it into a fabric, to turning it into a garment, with lots of other steps in between. With my project I was creating my own fabrics and kept thinking that this was the only way I could feel OK about making clothing. This way I know that all of the wool was from NZ, and processed in NZ, and wasn't shipped anywhere else as is the case with a lot of places. 

I grew a great connection between each piece knowing the struggle with each and every one of them. They became more special to me because they were something that couldn't be mass produced. Each to be one-off pieces made with love"  

Conversation with Fashion Designer Millie Askew.