FASHION’S NEW GUARD
The young designers making waves
Afew years ago, Wynn Crawshaw was working as a land surveyor, and he was bored. So, he did what (probably) no land surveyor had done before him, and he started his own clothing label. It wasn’t completely out of the blue – he’d completed aspects of a fashion design degree at both Otago Polytechnic and then at Auckland University of Technology. But when neither stuck, he engineered his own fate, approaching Auckland designer boutique Fabric with a collection of knitwear that they happily snapped up.
Since then, Wynn’s star has continued to rise. In 2015 he showed at New Zealand Fashion Week as part of the Choose Wool group show. In March 2016 he presented his spring/ summer 2016 collection at Auckland’s Gus Fisher Gallery, and in September he returned to NZFW where his autumn/ winter 2017 show seemed to have a monopoly on media coverage. “There were many circumstances that played into that, including the number of designers not showing,” he says. “But I was happy to be there to capitalise on the moment.”
This is Wynn being humble. The collection – named ‘Axminster’, after the old-school carpets commonly found in country houses and hotels – was a standout, not least for the full-length coats and bags that spoke directly to its inspiration. Sadly, anyone hoping to get their hands on a highly coveted coat has another thing coming. Despite the buzz surrounding them, they haven’t made it into production. “The thing is, they were literally made of carpet. They weighed, like, 20 kilos – the models could hardly walk in them,” says Wynn. Punters will be pleased to know that the bags, at least, are viable. “I’m teaming up with Jessie Wong to bring those into being,” says Wynn, referring to the Wellington-based designer behind luxury leather-goods brand Yu Mei.
With viability a concern for the designer, it’s interesting that he has embraced the traditional fashion show model at a time when both emerging and established brands are questioning its relevance. He agrees with aspects of that argument, but says the main reason he loves being a designer is seeing everything come together on the runway. “I think making collections would be a lot more mundane for me if I couldn’t celebrate with a show at the end. And the shows have definitely been the biggest push in terms of marketing .”
Off the back of NZFW, the brand was picked up by two local stockists, including popular Auckland boutique Black Box, owned by Stolen Girlfriends Club’s Dan Gosling. For team Wynn Hamlyn – which consists of the designer, his parter, Lana Morrison (consultant and sales-trip companion), his mother, Jill Hamlyn (brand namesake and bookkeeper) and stylist Oliver Guyon – a busy year awaits. Wynn isn’t fazed. “I’m bursting with ideas for future collections,” he says. The other good news? “As long as people are keen to keep coming out, I’m keen to keep showing.” Message received.
“Making collections would
be a lot more mundane for me if I couldn’t celebrate
with a show”