Restyled suits help sick kids

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Ev­ery­one wins with The Restyle Project.

Men’s suit com­pany French-83 has teamed up with White­cliffe Col­lege of Art and De­sign for a char­ity ini­tia­tive that will ben­e­fit the fam­i­lies of chil­dren with cancer.

Ki­wis can do­nate pre-loved suits to be re­designed by White­cliffe fash­ion stu­dents and auc­tioned on Trade Me.

Those who do­nate suits get a $250 voucher to spend at French-83 and the pro­ceeds of the auc­tion go to the Dream Chaser Foun­da­tion.

There is also some­thing in it for the stu­dent de­signer whose re­cy­cled suit at­tracts the high­est price on Trade Me.

They will get the chance to team up with French-83 to de­sign suits for the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

The Dream Chaser Foun­da­tion was set up two years ago by Whakatane cou­ple Ryan and Keri Top­per­wien.

Their three-year-old son Chace died in June 2012 from acute myeloid leukaemia.

Busi­ness­men Eric Wat­son and Owen Glenn were plan­ning a fundrais­ing rugby league game in­volv­ing the War­riors to help Chase, but he died be­fore it could be played.

‘‘We’d

talked

ear­lier

about start­ing a char­ity and they said ‘we’d still like to run the match’, would you like to launch the char­ity at the game?’’ Ryan says.

It was an in­cred­i­bly tough time but the op­por­tu­nity was not one to pass up, he says.

Ryan, Keri, and their baby son Zayn have moved in with fam­ily so they can run the char­ity full time.

‘‘It’s been tough fi­nan­cially but money isn’t ev­ery­thing.

‘‘It’s been re­ally good. It helps us with heal­ing as well. And it’s been good to be able to do some­thing good in our son’s name.

‘‘Chase was a car­ing boy, I guess be­cause ev­ery­one was so car­ing of him.

‘‘There would be days when he could be ly­ing in a hospi­tal bed with a 40-de­gree tem­per­a­ture and I might cough or some­thing. Straight away he’d sit up and say ‘Are you OK daddy?’

‘‘We knew he’d want us to help oth­ers,’’ Ryan says.

Funds raised from the Restyle Project will make a big dif­fer­ence to Ryan and Keri’s ef­forts.

‘‘Most of our time is taken up or­gan­is­ing events and just try­ing to find funds to pass on to fam­i­lies. We re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it when com­pa­nies want to do fundrais­ing for us,’’ Ryan says.

French-83 is run by Vi­vian Cheng and her brother Peter.

At the mo­ment it sells on­line only but a com­pany in Hong Kong is look­ing to sell its suits in its stores. Vi­vian and Peter see this as an op­por­tu­nity to show­case New Zealand’s style and are on the look­out for a up-and-com­ing Kiwi de­signer.

The Restyle Project is a way to iden­tify this per­son and do some­thing good at the same time, she says.

‘‘It’s killing two birds with one stone – ev­ery­one wins.

‘‘We were just re­ally in­spired by how Ryan and Keri have man­aged to turn what hap­pened into some­thing pos­i­tive,’’ Vi­vian says.

Fash­ion project: Head of fash­ion at White­cliffe Col­lege of Art and De­sign Belinda Watt and co-owner of French-83 Vi­vian Cheng.

Photo: MIKE SCOTT

Good cause:

Keri and Ryan Top­per­wien with their son Chace, in 2011.

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