IWD profiles: Celebrating Some of New Zealand’s Most Influential Women in Fashion

In an industry bursting with talent in Aotearoa, we thought it would be fitting to celebrate some of the female creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who we believe are helping define the New Zealand fashion industry in 2024.

In 2024, the theme of International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, a fitting theme that transcends country, race, age or gender.  This is a global call-to-action to look beyond our habits and reach new people, new communities and to share ideas.

 To quote the official International Women’s Day website, “the first International Women’s Day (IWD) was held in March 1911. IWD isn’t country, group or organisation specific. It’s a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging women’s equality.”

 World-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, Gloria Steinem, reportedly once explained: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

 The profiles we have written go some way to highlighting an immense group of talented women in Aotearoa who drive our fashion industry forward.  From New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria General Manager Yasmin Farry, to publishers Zeenat Wilkinson, Sarah Murray and Claire Sullivan, designers Kiri Nathan, Lauren Tapper, Sarah Harris and Karen Walker, photographers Holly Burgess, Karen Inderbitzen-Waller and more, our list is just a glimpse into our brilliant industry players and a celebration of who they are.

Amber Baker

Remix Magazine’s Editor Amber Baker has been a breathe of fresh air to the local industry since she took over the reigns at the Ponsonby-based fashion title 4 years ago.  Amber’s ability to float above the industry’s bitchy underbelly has garnered her an army of fans, and given Remix magazine a fresh new image.

Originally co-founded by Tim Phin and Andy Pickering, Remix first established itself as a dance culture-cum-fashion magazine, and was one of a handful of successful, independent magazines that populated Foodtown and Whitcoulls bookshelves in the early 2000s – think Pavement, NO, Black, Pulp, Karen as well as the more established titles of FQ, Creme, Girlfriend, Dolly, Simply You, Next, Grace and others.

However these days independent fashion magazine publishing in Aotearoa is a much more difficult business, and it needs leaders who genuinely love their role and champion those who work to make local fashion and beauty thrive.  Amber balances her role as editor, mother and wife with aplomb, and always seems to have time to give to others.  Her ability to grow and nurture new talent in the industry is to be admired, as is her seemingly-never-ending energy that takes her through multiple time zones every issue, shooting covers and attending luxury gala events across the world.

Note to self: try and be more like Amber.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Caitlin Crisp

What started off as a pastime to make clothes for family and friends, designer Caitlin Crisp is currently dominating the New Zealand fashion scene, one collection at a time, growing her hobby into a fully-fledged fashion business with a cult following.

Making her TV debut on 2018’s Project Runway New Zealand, Caitlin quickly became a fan fav and was admired for her undeniable southern charm and impressive craftsmanship. After the show she wasted no time turning an old farm shed into her studio, and got to work creating the label we have all come to adore today.

Starting off by creating one-off pieces and made to measure orders, two years on Caitlin’s namesake label has organically grown into a collection of timeless, easy to wear pieces that are elegant but still fun. The sampling and pattern making process is kept in-house wherever possible, and Caitlin still creates every custom order herself. At the heart of Caitlin Crisp’s brand ethos lies a commitment to quality craftsmanship and sustainable practices. Each garment is meticulously crafted using ethically sourced materials, reflecting Crisp’s dedication to responsible fashion. 

Caitlin’s designs are characterised by clean lines, refined silhouettes, and unexpected details, resulting in pieces that exude understated elegance with a modern twist. From tailored separates to flowing dresses, her collections strike the perfect balance between versatility and sophistication, catering to the multifaceted lifestyles of the modern woman. Beyond her success as a designer, Caitlin Crisp is also revered for her unwavering dedication to empowering women through fashion. Through her inclusive approach to design and representation, Crisp seeks to celebrate diversity and promote self-expression, inspiring confidence in women of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

*not to mention her recent (and totally instagramable) wedding in which she, her bridesmaids, the groomsmen and most of the attendees all sported CC designs, proving her brand is one to watch (and check out if you have a wedding coming up!)

Written by FNZ Digital Editor Bella Wright

Claire Sullivan

Claire Sullivan is a champion of the Good Life, and her lifestyle title Denizen has played a vital role in upping the ante for many Kiwis in terms of how they aspire to live.

Denizen’s role in fashion has been lazer-focused and unapologetic: the title hones in on the very best brands, products and names that Kiwis can access.  Since late 2020, when Auckland seemed to be opening a new luxury brand store every week (think Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jimmy Choo, Bvlgari, Moncler) it was magazines like Denizen that gave these brands the glossy page coverage and cover shoot hype they are used to in North America and Europe.  This isn’t to say that other magazines didn’t play that role too, but without a doubt Denizen stood out as a magazine those brands needed to feature in to build local rapport and customer support.

Claire’s background in publishing doesn’t start and end with Denizen – she cut her teeth in New York in the early 2000s and later acquired seminal design title Urbis from previous publishers AGM.  Fashion isn’t the core of Claire’s world either, and Denizen has expanded to embrace fine food, interiors, architecture, travel, cars and more, allowing the Denizen reader a never-ending shopping list of the latest and greatest from around the world.

Digitally, Denizen has garnered an army of online fans who look to its weekly EDM as a source of social currency, allowing them a head start on what to discuss around the water cooler.  Countless local and international brands have no doubt benefitted from Denizen’s cooler-than-cool edit of where to be, who to know and what to wear.

Claire and her team are also champions of local up-and-coming fashion brands, and have been pivotal in heightening the visibility and positioning of labels like Harris Tapper, Maggie Marilyn, Rebe Burgess, Dadelszen, Working Style and many more.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Donielle Brooke 

What began as a buy, sell and swap Facebook page in 2014, Designer Wardrobe is now a successful e-commerce platform with its own bricks and mortar stores, and it’s all thanks to the savvy business acumen of Donielle Brooke. As the first clothing rental business to really take off in New Zealand, Donielle has paved the way for a more sustainable way of consuming fashion, so much so that in 2023, she left Designer Wardrobe’s and opened a dress rental store, The Dress Room Rental, in Auckland’s Newmarket.

With sustainability always a hot topic in the fashion industry, especially in Aotearoa, through Donielle’s two businesses, she is helping the everyday consumer to be more conscious of the circularity of fashion by providing platforms that make the path to more conscious consumption an easy one, while always championing New Zealand and Australian fashion.

In fashion, there are many ways to make an impact (or less of an impact if we’re talking sustainability) that don’t involve putting more items of clothing into the world. Donielle’s influence on the fashion industry in New Zealand, particularly from the consumer side, is one that deserves to be celebrated.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Emma Lewisham

When it comes to the formulation and manufacture of beauty products, there’s no one doing it like Emma Lewisham. So revolutionary is her business approach, that she is making her sustainability model available globally to any brands who want to take a more planet-friendly and forward-thinking approach to their operation. If that’s not true Kiwi ingenuity, we don’t know what is.

Emma launched her eponymous skincare brand in 2019 after identifying a gap in the market for natural skincare that was formulated using the most scientifically innovative ingredients available, and which had not just a neutral, but a positive environmental impact. The brand’s carbon positive status (along with being B Corp certified and 100 percent circular) means that

after reducing carbon emissions as much as possible in every part of the business, the company offsets more than what remains. Emma’s operation doesn’t leave no footprint on planet earth, it leaves a constructive one.

Having garnered huge success both in New Zealand and Australia since launch, in 2024, Emma is focusing on the brand’s extension into the UK market, having secured British retailer Space NK as a stockist – the first New Zealand skincare brand to do so – along with Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Net-a-Porter and Harrods, as well as Goop and Onda Beauty in the US.

Never one to rest on her laurels, Emma continues to evolve in every aspect of her business, from both a sustainability aspect and in the formulation of her now cult products. With quality over quantity integral across the board and innovation at the forefront, it’s not only New Zealand, but the world, waiting with baited breath to see what this entrepreneur does next.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Gosia Piatek

Gosia Piatek started Kowtow 17 years ago in response to her desire to cater to one of the basic human needs: food, clothing and shelter.  She chose clothing, and the rest is history.

Herself a Polish refugee, Gosia moved to NZ with her family to pursue a new life, and has never relinquished the energy that drove her to be inquisitive, passionate and driven to do well.  Kowtow is testament to this passion, and is now one of the label’s that defines a new era of Kiwi fashion as purpose-led, democratic and beautiful.

It’s a little-known fact that Gosia isn’t the designer of Kowtow, but rather hovers above a skilled team of designers and business managers who execute the day-to-day and season-to-season realities of the brand.  Skipping between London and Wellington every few months, Gosia uses her global footprint to ensure Kowtow stays ahead of the pack and doesn’t get too bogged down in the minutae of New Zealand fashion life.

As a design brand, Kowtow has grown, through Gosia’s passion, to stand for quality, longevity and the environment.  Gosia lives and breathes this mantra, and is a true leader when it comes to where we want to be as an industry in 50 years time.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Holly Sarah Burgess

Based in Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland, and hailing from Hokianga, Holly’s dynamic vision has seen her collaborate with local fashion titles including Fashion Quarterly and Denizen magazines, as well as shooting for brands such as Deadly Ponies, Harris Tapper, Rebe and Muse Boutique.

Whether she’s shooting street style for local and international fashion weeks, behind the lens on the set of a magazine editorial or creating concepts for advertising campaigns, the keen eye of Holly Burgess (Ngāpuhi and Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi) is undeniable. With a degree from Elam School of Fine Arts under her belt and a talent for capturing the vulnerability and depth of her subjects, she has become one of the most sought after photographers in Aotearoa today, and her images are instantly recognisable as her own.

In 2023, Holly was asked by Nike Football to explore the future of jersey culture for women through her own eyes, a project which she took home to Hokianga to photograph her cousins on the lands and waters of their ancestors. The result was an incredibly moving series of nostalgic images which paid homage to her whakapapa, and made a globally recognised brand look right at home on our shores.

Holly’s passion and depth of character doesn’t just come across when she photographs her whanau, it’s in every frame she shoots, no matter the subject, campaign or location. Creative to the core, with a portfolio of work that is constantly evolving, we’re always watching to see where Holly’s lens will take her next.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Jordan Daniels

Jordan, originally from South Africa, relocated to New Zealand with her parents at the age of one, settling in Auckland. Despite her early years not pointing towards a career in modelling, fate intervened when she was scouted at the age of 17. Signed by 62 Management, Jordan found herself drawn into the world of fashion.

Her aspirations for a career in social work, pursued briefly at university, were soon overshadowed by the demands of her burgeoning modelling career. Within six months, the pull of the fashion industry became irresistible, prompting Jordan to make the move to Los Angeles. In a whirlwind 18 months, she found herself under the representation of the prestigious agency, The Society, in New York.

From there, Jordan’s trajectory skyrocketed as she graced the catwalks of top designers during fashion week. Her striking appearance captivated designers and casting agents alike. Notably, both Vogue and Models.com recognized her as one to watch, hailing her as one of the standout faces of spring 2019. Vogue went further, dubbing her a “true global beauty,” solidifying her status as a rising star in the world of fashion.

Now Jordan calls NYC home and is staying booked and busy, most recently walking in the Ferragamo FW ’24 show during Milan Fashion Week. There’s no doubt Jordan is one kiwi gal gone international to watch and be proud of this year!

Written by FNZ Digital Editor Bella Wright

Kathryn Wilson

Kathryn Wilson (New Zealand’s first Lady in footwear) stands as a luminary in the realm of footwear design, celebrated for her eponymous brand, Kathryn Wilson Footwear. With a career spanning over two decades, Wilson has cemented her reputation as one of New Zealand’s most prominent designers, renowned for her sophisticated yet playful approach to shoe design.

Raised in Manurewa, Auckland, Wilson’s journey into the world of fashion began at a young age, fueled by her passion for fashion. After completing her studies in fashion and footwear design in Aotearoa and Italy, Wilson launched her eponymous label in 2003 with the help of NZ fashion stalwarts Lloyd and Caroline Sills (as well as a grassroots business scholarship from AMP), with a vision to create shoes that marry style with comfort and functionality.

Throughout her career, Kathryn has received numerous accolades for her contributions to the fashion industry. She has been recognized with prestigious awards further solidifying her status as a trailblazer in the field of footwear design.

In addition to her success in the fashion world, Kathryn is also known for her philanthropic endeavours, especially with Starship Hospital. She actively supports various charitable causes, including initiatives aimed at empowering women and promoting sustainability within the industry.

Written by FNZ Digital Editor Bella Wright

Kiri Nathan

It’s not often that fashion designers are nominated for New Zealander of the Year, but entrepreneur and business leader Kiri Nathan (NZOM) achieved that in 2023, a year where she also opened New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria and stamped her mark as a significant creative force in New Zealand fashion and trade.

Kiri’s humble approach to fashion and business has often seen her put the success of the group before any individual pursuit, a trait that was best illustrated in 2017 when Kiri formed The Kahui Collective.  Off her own bat, Kiri spearheaded a business trip to China with five Māori creatives to introduce them to, and support them in making their way into one of the world’s largest fabric markets.  In 2019 she repeated this trip again, this time with 15 Māori creatives, facilitating high-level meetings with buyers and distributors.

In her own right, Kiri (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Paoa) has been one of our local industry’s quiet achievers, building her brand alongside husband Jason Nathan, a master Pounamu carver.  Together the two have championed diversity and worked hard to ensure Māori creativity and success is celebrated, with a focus on Katiakitanga (guardianship) and Manaakitanga (caring for others).

Kiri says “I want to see indigenous creativity and business acumen normalised, the connection and education of cultural creativity.  When celebrating and drawing inspiration from a culture, you have a direct responsibility back that culture and its people.”

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Karen Walker

What would a list of influential women in New Zealand fashion be without mentioning Karen Walker?  In her 30+ years in fashion, Karen has not only embarked on numerous projects that have broken new ground for local designers, but she has no doubt inspired many of the country’s most successful designers to chase their own dreams.

Starting out in the 1990s with a single pair of trousers to sell, Karen chased her own dream and has since built a veritable fashion empire including multi-brand retail stores, license deals and of course an ever-growing list of products that carry the unmistakable Karen Walker aesthetic.

Karen’s business model has undoubtedly moved with the times, especially since the days of being one of a handful of local designer names putting New Zealand on the map.  Her contemporaries in the ‘90s and early 2000s included Kate Sylvester, Helen Cherry, Liz Findlay at Zambesi, Trelise Cooper and others, but Karen’s global aspirations took her brand to unique heights, reached in no small part due to her genius working partnership with her creative director husband Mikhail Gherman.

Runway shows at London and New York fashion weeks for years on end drove a huge part of Karen’s global visibility and success, along with her eyewear line, made with Sydney-based specialists Sunshades Eyewear.  There was a time when it seemed that any fashionista worth their salt owned multiple pairs of Karen’s iconic glasses, such was their place in the zeitgeist of mid-2000s fashion.

Karen’s work as an ambassador for Breast Cancer Cure and the SPCA in New Zealand has meant that her public profile has also grown outside of fashion, but her impact on our fashion industry will always be measured by how she has shown an entire generation of New Zealand designers that major success on a global scale is possible.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Katherine Lowe and Tia Woods at Super Management

Super Management is without a doubt the best new talent agency New Zealand has seen for years.  Its co-founders Katherine Lowe and Tia Woods created Super out of the ashes of Clyne Management, and have since sculpted the agency to be not only the supporters of some of the country’s best talent, but a defining trademark of those who are the best.

The question has to be asked:  Were Super’s models this good before they were signed by the agency, or is the fact they were signed by Super one of the things that made them so good?

For anyone who doesn’t know about Super, their books read like a who’s who of the best Kiwi models of the moment: Emma Boyd, Grace Cox, Olivia O’Driscoll, Em Stenberg, Annabella Barber, Matthew Lee, Imogen Gentles, Ch’lita, Renee Wilkins-Foster, Katie Hughes and many more.

Some of you may remember Katherine from her days as a fashion blogger for KatherineIsAwesome.  Her partnership with then ubiquitous blog boy Isaac Hindin-Miller thrust her onto the guest lists of any fashion party there was, so when Isaac moved to NYC, Katherine was left holding the blog baby, so to speak.  A stint designing model cards for Clyne management soon followed, and before long Katherine had joined the ranks of NZ’s next top model bookers.

As a model, Tia Woods has an unmistakable look, and like so many others, after being the face of almost every fashion brand in the country, she moved across to model booking with Clyne alongside Katherine.  When Clyne owner Marama Nicholas left New Zealand and shut down the agency, Tia quickly joined forces with Katherine and from there Super Management was born.

Together Tia and Katherine are defining a new era of talent bookers in New Zealand, helping local talent thrive in Aotearoa and beyond.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Karen Inderbitzen Waller

Cutting her teeth in the New Zealand fashion industry with seminal magazine Pavement  at just 20 years of age, Karen has since become a pillar of the fashion community, taking her work far beyond our shores and gaining international recognition.

Karen and her partner Delphine are regular faces at any fashion event, and have become equally popular and trusted sources of photographic content for some of New Zealand’s best names in fashion.  Karen started out as a stylist, and Delphine a model in France, but after meeting in Sydney and relocating full-time to Auckland, the pair have carved out an unmistakable aesthetic that has defined a decade of New Zealand fashion art direction.

Karen’s unique appreciation of obscure art and music has informed much of her work, often creating completely unique art scapes in which her work exists.  This has taken years of dedication to hone her unique craft, and without a doubt Karen stands out as a completely unique creative voice in New Zealand art and fashion.

From growing up in New Plymouth, attending Selwyn College in Auckland to being recognised internationally by Vogue Italia for her work, Karen is a perfect example of how antipodean creativity and integrity can shine through at a global level.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Rachel Mills

The fashion industry in New Zealand is experiencing a critical technical skills shortage, with trades such as pattern making, machining, garment construction, product development and textile knowledge at the risk of becoming obsolete. Without the prevalence of these skills, the manufacturing of garments in Aotearoa continues to get tougher, but with designers and makers such as Rachel Mills determined to revive the industry, we hope to see a positive shift.

In 2019, Rachel and her mother Adrienne took over Mt Eden garment manufacturing business, Figaro, rebranding as The Pattern Table, which led Rachel’s eponymous label in a new direction too. Now utilising a made-to-order model, her pieces are produced mindfully in-house using responsibly sourced fabrics and given a seven-day turnaround. Each garment is cut, sewn, pressed, packed and shipped from their workroom, which is helping to foster and support the rejuvenation of key technical skills.

In further support of the local industry, The Pattern Table also manufactures garments for a small number of New Zealand brands, enabling them to keep their production on shore and for more technical garment production jobs to be made available locally. But while the current business model is contained to small, local brands, Rachel has recently put the call-out to large-scale brands and retailers to collaborate with The Pattern Table to help take her manufacturing model global.

Without the sheer determination of people like Rachel, it will be hard to keep the rag trade industry in New Zealand operational, or make the changes needed on a global scale. We greatly admire and respect Rachel’s commitment to leading the charge here in Aotearoa.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Rickie Dee

Rickie Dee was just 21 years old when she and business partner James Rigden opened their first Superette store on Auckland’s Drake St. Twenty-two years and nine stores (not including their online store) later, Rickie has created a one-stop-shop for all things exciting, desirable and unique.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Dee developed a passion for fashion and entrepreneurship from a young age. After studying business and design, Dee recognised a gap in the market for a lifestyle brand that seamlessly combined fashion-forward apparel with curated homeware and accessories.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Rickie last year as part of our “How’s Business?” Series where she dished on the recent opening of the Newmarket store. Not only did we get amazing insight into the mind behind the masterpiece but also on who she admires, and with that being fellow female business owner and girl-boss Anine Bing we think it’s safe to say that Rickie is doing her proud.  

Under Rickie Dee’s leadership, Superette has flourished into a multi-faceted retail powerhouse, renowned for its carefully curated selection of international and local brands. Dee’s keen eye for emerging trends and dedication to quality and craftsmanship have helped Superette carve out a distinct identity in the competitive retail landscape.

Written by FNZ Digital Editor Bella Wright

Rodelle Payne

There’s no doubt Auckland often gets all the glory when it comes to fashion, but when Rodelle Payne opened her boutique department store Sisters&Co in Mount Maunganui in 2007, she enabled women outside of the main centres to get a taste of the pie too. With its prime location on the corner of Maunganui Rd and Nikau Crescent in the Bay of Plenty’s popular tourist destination, Sisters has gone from strength to strength in the last 17 years, stocking more than 50 high-end brands with a bountiful range that caters to a wide-reaching customer base.

The likes of local favourites Marle, Deadly Ponies, Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester sit alongside international names such as Camilla and Marc, Anine Bing, See by Chloe and Bottega Veneta, providing locals and holiday-makers alike with a more luxury offering when it comes to adding to their wardrobes.

Recognising that foot traffic can vary from season to season, especially in a small town, Rodelle’s e-commerce platform has seen the Sisters online store become one of Australasia’s leading fashion destinations too. Likewise, regularly collaborating with designers to offer in-store events for customers has given Sisters a strong sense of community and enabled the more personal side of the fashion industry, which is regularly marked by consumer and industry events in Auckland, accessible to wider New Zealand.

Rodelle’s simple mission of making luxury fashion widely available has helped to extend the reach of many local fashion brands within New Zealand while also giving those in more remote areas unparalleled access to international labels through a passionate and expertly curated retail offering.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Sarah Harris Gould + Lauren Tapper at Harris Tapper

Quiet luxury was arguably the most talked about style trend of 2023, and no New Zealand brand answers the call on our behalf quite like Harris Tapper. Founded in 2018 by Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper as a shirting brand to stylishly bolster the wardrobes of professional women, Harris Tapper’s now full seasonal women’s wear collections offer timeless capsule pieces capable of taking women from the office to school pickup and everywhere in between while exuding grace (but with an edge).

Sarah and Lauren met while both working for a global fashion retailer, and upon discovering their complementary skill set went into business together, with Lauren heading up Harris Tapper’s design and production side and Sarah working on the more commercial aspects of sales and business. Anyone who works in fashion will tell you it’s not an easy game to be in, but despite the challenges over the past few years, Harris Tapper appears to be going from strength to strength.

The pair is continually innovating in the design space to bring customers new pieces that aren’t based on trends, but instead provide directional, modern pieces to help women keep their wardrobes feeling fresh, functional and effortlessly sophisticated. Unlike high-end international brands such as Khaite and The Row that also fit that quiet luxury aesthetic, many of Harris Tapper’s pieces sit at a more accessible price point, giving women across different income brackets the option to shop locally and consciously for pieces that will last a lifetime in their wardrobes. And may we mention, their sample sales are legendary.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Sarah Murray

Where publishing news is concerned, headlines most often bring word of magazine closures, staff redundancies or axing print arms in favour of digital-only offerings. So when it was announced in November 2023 that Fashion Quarterly’s editor-in-chief, Sarah Murray, had purchased the iconic title that she helmed from its owners Via Media, it sent a wave of excitement through the publishing industry as a whole.

An editor endeavouring to become the owner of a title with such a strong heritage is quite frankly unheard of in New Zealand, but if you know Sarah Murray, you’ll know she’s never been one to shy away from a challenge. Taking on a maternity cover role as editor of FQ with three children under five, the youngest of which was just six months old, was about as ambitious a decision as they come, but Sarah not only survived, she thrived.

Having worked in the New Zealand publishing industry for the past 14 years, Sarah has cut her teeth at some of our country’s most prestigious titles, including Sunday, NEXT and at Fashion Quarterly back when it was under the ownership of international media conglomerate Bauer Media, and has always supported the local fashion and beauty industries through her impeccable story telling.

She has herself endured many of the realities of the unstable world of print journalism, yet she continues to champion print with the passion it deserves. With the ability to take Fashion Quarterlý in whichever direction she chooses as editor-and-chief and publisher, we’re excited to see what 2024 holds for Sarah and her team.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight

Sera Cruickshank

In 2024 The Diamond Shop will celebrate 30 years in business, and with a recent change of ownership from founder Win Charlebois to new owner and entrepreneur Sera Cruickshank, the business is perfectly positioned to thrive in what has become an increasingly competitive retail market, full of world-class local jewellery brands as well as top tier international competition.

The New Zealand jewellery business, to the uninitiated, may look like it’s dominated by Michael Hill, Stewart Dawsons and Walker & Hall, and indeed these retailers and others like them have for years done a roaring trade in catering to the masses, making jewellery and precious stones seem accessible, sometimes almost too much so.  However The Diamond Shop have achieved what is often so hard to nail down in New Zealand, a market where you have to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.  Sera Cruickshank’s vision for The Diamond Shop has meant sacrificing large scale market share for quality-driven designs, narrowing her focus on exceptional stones, high-grade metals and a plethora of one-off, bespoke designs that cater to life’s special moments.

Sera’s acquisition of The Diamond Shop comes at a time when local brands like Partridges have upped the ante on what a modern jewellery business should look like, as well as the likes of Bvlgari, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels setting up shop in downtown Auckland.  Never before has the luxe jewellery market been so cluttered or competitive, and it’s only expected to get more so with the rumoured arrival of Cartier and Piaget in coming years.

As a person of influence, Sera has also created an image of a modern, successful wife and mother, balancing acute business acumen with a real-life look at juggling family, wellness, travel and other commitments.  Her timeless style along with a self-deprecating portrayal through social media of no-frills working life has meant she has become a target for brands outside her own who know that she has real influence over women like her.

For any New Zealand fashion, beauty, retail or jewellery business to have existed for 30 years is no mean feat, and it puts The Diamond Shop in a small group alongside other well-known names such as Zambesi, Kate Sylvester, Karen Walker, Trelise Cooper, Working Style, Nom*D and very few others.  The future success of The Diamond Shop, and building a new vision for the brand, now rests with Sera, giving her the opportunity to create a nimble, digital-savvy, globally-recognised business that pays homage to the Win’s legacy.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Tori Ambler

Tori Holden first burst onto the scene as a fashion assistant to Marian Simms at the now-defunct Karen magazine some time in the early 2000s.  She has since risen through the ranks of New Zealand fashion stylists to become a familiar face and a trusted source of good work among those who know and hire her.

New Zealand fashion styling isn’t an easy business to master, with so few editorial shoots paying well (if at all) and the call of TV and advertising jobs alluring, regardless of the long hours they demand.  Few stylists stick around for as long as Tori has, and this is testament to her hard work and easy manner, and not least of all her keen eye.

Now a wife and mother of two young boys, Tori Ambler (as is her married name) has reached the rarified air that only a few stylists will get to in their careers, and she shares this space with a handful of masters of their craft:  Sammy Salsa, Rachel Morton, Victoria Harvey, Courtney Joe, Dan Ahwa and few others.  

Tori’s sister, Phoebe Holden, has also worked her way through the local fashion industry, holding positions at Simon James and Remix Magazine.  Clearly the Holden genes are good ones, and our fashion industry is better off for it.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Yasmin Farry

Re-energising New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) after a four-year hiatus wasn’t ever going to be an easy task, but the event’s new General Manager Yasmin Farry was a deft choice given her experience with the legacy event.

Yasmin’s experience at NZFW stretches way back to its early days where she quickly became a regular fixture backstage at shows, calmly managing hundreds of moving parts from models to designers, hair and make-up artists, PR agents and anyone else who pulls together a show.  It is this inherently calm approach to Fashion Week and Yasmin’s unassuming demeanour that has given NZFW its new direction and quiet confidence.

The 2023 event received praise and criticism in almost equal measure, so the trick for 2024 will be navigating the post-pandemic fashion world’s refreshed expectations of what a Fashion Week should be, which will be just as much about satisfying designers as it will influencers, media and of course fashion fans.

To us at FashioNZ, Yasmin represents everything that is good about Aotearoa’s unique and humble fashion industry; she has grace, intelligence and fairness in equal measure, and we are certain that she will lead New Zealand Fashion Week into a successful and creative future, whatever shape it may take.

Written by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan

Zeenat Wilkinson

From an outside perspective, the fashion industry may seem intimidating, but that could be because you haven’t crossed paths with Zeenat Wilkinson yet. Hands down one of the kindest and most collaborative women in fashion media in New Zealand, Zeenat is a powerhouse in online publishing, championing diversity and inclusivity in every aspect of her work with a welcoming warmth that radiates, always.

A stalwart of the local media industry, Zeenat’s multi-disciplinary skill set has roots across multiple cities around the world. Born in Mumbai, India, Zeenat has a degree in psychology, has studied fashion design, and attended Central Saint Martin’s in London where she focused on trend forecasting and fashion marketing. After working for Grazia and styling for other European magazines, Zeenat relocated to New Zealand and founded her digital publication Sauce in 2017.

A celebration of diverse voices, Sauce is an inspiring read for people of all backgrounds, many of whom contribute to the website, allowing the amplification of opinions and subjects not often touched on by mainstream media. The other arm of Sauce is a boutique production company and digital consulting agency which enables the conversation around inclusivity to expand further across the industry in New Zealand. Zeenat is also a breath of fresh air on social media, using her platform to champion and collaborate with local brands, further promote minority voices and of course, share impeccable style and beauty inspiration that will have you adding to cart in an instant.

Written by FNZ Contributor Lucy Slight