Valabenci: street fashion with a social message


Louis Pedersen, the creative designer behind Valabenci

Louis Pedersen has successfully managed to straddle the entirely unexpected dual worlds of engineering and fashion design.

The creative designer is the mind behind Valabenci, a New Zealand luxe street label, which launched in 2020 and which recently released the ‘Nice To Meet You’ T-shirt.

“In today’s age of technology, where socialising may occur less frequently in person, I believe it’s crucial to keep these social traditions alive,” says Louis.

“Through my brand, I aspire to promote this message. Some of the clothing features unique moments or sayings associated with socialising. For instance, our ‘Nice To Meet You’ T-shirt embodies the physical handshake or touch and a common saying used when meeting someone new for the first time. Some items may feature how I am feeling creatively.”

Louis’ creative side was nourished early on, starting with art classes after school.

“Eventually, I pursued a career in engineering, where I could bring ideas to life in a physical form. Apart from my engineering work, I’ve always taken pleasure in dressing well and engaging in social activities. I wanted to create something of value that combined these experiences. So I decided to launch a clothing brand that offers high-quality clothes for social occasions. I started planning for this venture in 2019 and officially launched it in 2020, starting with the Hawke’s Bay region.

“In the beginning, the designs were leaning on my creative side. The first items were all logo/word design based and were printed on existing blank garments.”

What inspires you and how does this then translate into the pieces you design?

The world around me and the message I strive to convey serve as my source of inspiration. With this in mind, every item I create is infused with 100% of my creativity and effort.

What was your driver/goal when you first launched your brand and has this evolved?

My goal is to create a worldwide recognised brand that conveys my message and further elevates the status of New Zealand. In addition to providing a better life for my family, I aim to spread happiness to those in my vicinity. By achieving this goal, I will have the opportunity to spend quality time with the people who matter most to me on a daily basis. This is the true measure of my success – when I can make this a reality, I will know that I have achieved my mission.


What were the most challenging parts of the process in terms of creating and launching your own brand?

Venturing outside the boundaries of conventional society and facing questions from friends and family about the brand without having all the answers caused doubts in some people’s minds. However, I was confident that my idea was exceptional. From a business perspective, it was crucial to identify the best sources to procure all the items required for the brand and to have a clear understanding of where to get them manufactured or printed. There was a lot of trial and error in this phase. In time, I hope to create a resource list to assist other creators and give back to the community.

What sort of engineering were you doing?

Heavy Fabrication, which consists of welding all types of steel/alloys in all environments. Projects can range from fabricating a sturdy steel digger bucket to crafting aluminium flashings for a residential property.

How do the skills you learned from engineering transfer across to fashion/design?

The nature of engineering work often involves encountering mistakes and setbacks, which can be rectified by returning to the drawing board. This iterative process has taught me the values of patience and forward planning, which are essential for successful project management. Drawings play a critical role in the field of engineering, serving as a fundamental means of conveying ideas throughout the design process. Personally, this has enabled me to translate concepts from my mind onto paper and, ultimately, into the finished product.

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