KATHRYN WIL­SON TALKS JUG­GLING 15 YEARS OF FASH­ION AND EN­TREPRENEUR­SHIP

Idealog - - IDEALOG / SAMSUNG -

Kathryn Wil­son is ar­guably New Zealand’s most cel­e­brated footwear de­signer. She has been in the busi­ness for more than a decade, was the first footwear-ex­clu­sive show at New Zealand Fash­ion Week and con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the cat­walk at the il­lus­tri­ous event in present day. Here, she talks the tech­nol­ogy she uses to stay on top of her busy work­ing sched­ule, as well as how she rung the brand’s 15-year an­niver­sary this year.

Wil­son is a Massey Uni­ver­sity grad­u­ate whose self-ti­tled footwear la­bel was born in 2003. As of 2018, the footwear brand is stocked in more than 100 lo­cal bou­tiques scat­tered around coun­try and has a ded­i­cated on­line fol­low­ing, too.

One mile­stone that the tal­ented de­signer has ticked off in her ca­reer was be­ing the first footwear-ex­clu­sive show at New Zealand Fash­ion Week in 2010, with this tra­di­tion car­ry­ing through to present day.

And with this year mark­ing the brand’s 15year an­niver­sary, Wil­son wanted to pull out all the stops to cel­e­brate at New Zealand Fash­ion Week.

So how much work goes into host­ing a show at this pres­ti­gious event, ex­actly? Wil­son says there is months of plan­ning – from cast­ing the mod­els, to cu­rat­ing the mu­sic playlist, to styling the out­fit, to set de­sign, pro­duc­tion light­ing, a seat­ing plan, a run­ning or­der of the show, me­dia in­ter­views, the sam­pling of one-off de­signs – the list goes on.

For en­trepreneurs in the fash­ion in­dus­try like her­self, she says it’s all up to the de­signer to ar­range these show de­tails, which is a pretty de­mand­ing sched­ule to keep up with.

“As any New Zealand small busi­ness owner knows, there is no typ­i­cal day! Dur­ing New Zealand Fash­ion Week, our pri­or­ity is the whole­sale ap­point­ments, show­ing the W’19 col­lec­tions to over 50 na­tion­wide stock­ists who are in Auck­land for the week,” Wil­son says.

“It’s a busy time where ev­ery hour is filled with ap­point­ments on­site in the trade space at New Zealand Fash­ion Week, along with at­tend­ing shows to sup­port friends who are on the sched­ule dur­ing the week.”

For this year’s event, Wil­son also had both the fash­ion show and a 15th an­niver­sary trib­ute event post-show to plan. The lat­ter fea­tured an ex­hi­bi­tion of pho­to­graphs and videos of men­tors and muses that have had a part to play in the Kathryn Wil­son brand over the last 15 years, but she says all the ef­fort that went into be­hind-the-scenes was worth it.

“This was a great way for me to ac­knowl­edge those be­hind the scenes who make it all hap­pen and also those who have been my big­gest cheer­lead­ers over the years,” she says.

As far as be­ing ef­fi­cient and staying on top of jug­gling these dif­fer­ent de­mands, Wil­son says the Sam­sung Gal­axy Note9 was an in­cred­i­bly use­ful tool to have in the height of the crazi­ness at New Zealand Fash­ion Week, as she didn’t need to worry about bring­ing a charger.

“The all-day bat­tery life is a life saver dur­ing busy weeks where there is no time to stop and plug-in dur­ing the day,” she says.

But its de­sir­able fea­tures for busy en­trepreneurs go fur­ther than that. Wil­son says the S-Pen that’s avail­able with the phone is a great tool to al­low her to com­mu­ni­cate her de­sign ideas to man­u­fac­tur­ers eas­ily, with­out need­ing to use Pho­to­shop or Il­lus­tra­tor pro­grammes on a desk­top PC.

“Es­sen­tially, ev­ery­thing can be done ‘on the go’, mean­ing there is less need for a sit down desk and a quiet of­fice en­vi­ron­ment,” she says. “Hav­ing a ter­abyte of stor­age is also a saviour, as we are of­ten work­ing with large graphic files for ap­prov­ing me­dia and art­work via emails and down­loads.”

With the Kathryn Wil­son New Zealand Fash­ion Week show at­tract­ing an au­di­ence of 1000 peo­ple and the an­niver­sary trib­ute event host­ing 400 guests, it’s safe to say she cel­e­brated 15 years in the busi­ness in style. Dame Pi­eter Ste­wart also asked Wil­son to give a speech at the open­ing cer­e­mony to launch the 2018 event, which she says was a mem­o­rable mo­ment.

“I was ner­vous as I wanted to do her proud, but also ex­cited and hon­oured to be asked to rep­re­sent the de­sign­ers of New Zealand fash­ion in­dus­try,” she says.

Over­all, Wil­son says the high­light of the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was be­ing able to ac­knowl­edge and thank the peo­ple who have played a part in the brand over the last 15 years, and seen the brand grow to the plat­form it oc­cu­pies to­day.

“It’s a won­der­ful en­ergy for the Kathryn Wil­son team to see the col­lec­tions come to life on the cat­walk and also share in a great cel­e­bra­tion with our cus­tomers, whole­sale ac­counts and me­dia.”

Es­sen­tially, ev­ery­thing can be done ‘on the go’, mean­ing there is less need for a sit down desk and a quiet of­fice en­vi­ron­ment.

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