New Zealand fashion label Ames just released a collection of just 3 garments. Why?

When Ames Store founder Amy Tran e-mailed FashioNZ on March 4th with a press release about her latest capsule collection, it stopped us in our tracks.

Amidst the flutter of late 2023/early 2024 fashion industry jitters including the shuttering of New Zealand labels Mina, Hej-Hej and Benjamin Alexander, not to mention fire sale after fire sale from every brand under the sun, dumping stock and referring to it kindly as an Archive Sale, here was a local label that was throwing a sartorial Hail Mary. Amy’s announcement described a small, independent label that was trialing a solution to fashion’s relentless demand for ‘the new’ while also solving waste and sustainability issues: it was a collection of just 3 garments. 1 dress. 1 shirt. 1 pair of pants.  Is this where we’re heading?  Is this the solution?  How far can we go before there are no more new things, and buying second hand is our only option, because all of the fashion businesses can’t stay open?

Maybe that’s a stretch, but it makes you think.

So we handed the mic to Amy to put into words why she’s come up with this drastic new approach to design, and tell us what inspired her to do it.

In the dynamic landscape of fashion, where trends come and go with lightning speed, Ames Store has made a pivotal decision that challenges the status quo: we’re shrinking our collection down to just three pieces. This deliberate move may raise eyebrows in an industry where abundance often reigns supreme, but we believe it’s a necessary step towards sparking a conversation about the true essence of fashion and the fiscal realities faced by designers, especially in a small market like New Zealand.

Our journey towards minimalism in fashion begins with a critical examination of the culture of excess that pervades the industry. In a world where consumers are bombarded with endless choices, the pursuit of ‘more’ has become deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. Yet, amidst this sea of options, the true value of each garment often gets lost in the shuffle. By paring down our collection to just three carefully curated pieces, we’re challenging the notion that a wardrobe must be bursting at the seams to be considered complete.

Instead, we’re championing a more intentional approach to dressing, where quality takes precedence over quantity and each garment holds its own unique significance. Our decision to focus on a select few designs allows us to channel our creativity and attention to detail into crafting pieces that are truly exceptional. In doing so, we hope to inspire a shift towards a more mindful and sustainable way of consuming fashion, where every purchase is made with purpose and thoughtfulness.

Beyond the philosophical underpinnings of our decision lies a stark financial reality that many designers, particularly those operating in New Zealand, are all too familiar with. Ames Store is committed to local manufacturing, we understand the challenges of producing high-quality garments in a market where costs are inherently higher. From sourcing sustainable materials to paying fair wages to skilled artisans, the financial pressures can quickly add up, threatening the viability of even the most passionate and innovative designers.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed the heartbreaking closure of numerous New Zealand brands, casualties of an industry that demands constant innovation and a seemingly endless stream of new offerings. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we refuse to succumb to this fate. Instead, we’re taking a proactive approach to ensure the longevity of our business by focusing our resources on perfecting a select few designs, rather than spreading ourselves thin across a multitude of options.

By streamlining our collection, we’re able to operate more efficiently and effectively, without compromising on the quality and craftsmanship that defines our brand. This strategic shift not only enables us to weather the economic challenges facing the industry but also allows us to stay true to our values as a proudly Kiwi brand committed to supporting local talent and industry.

Our decision to embrace minimalism in fashion is not about sacrificing choice; it’s about redefining what it means to be fashionable in today’s world. It’s about celebrating the beauty of simplicity and the power of thoughtful design. And above all, it’s about ensuring that fashion remains a force for good – both for the planet and for the people who bring our designs to life.

As we embark on this new chapter, we invite you to join us in reimagining the role of fashion in our lives. Let’s embrace quality over quantity, creativity over conformity, and purpose over profit. Together, we have the opportunity to shape a future where fashion is not just about what we wear, but how we choose to wear it – with intention, integrity, and impact.