Fashion News

Three designers share their special relationships with their Mums

Teresa Hodges always loved clothes,” says her mother, Janet. “When she was young I used to help her sew her school ball gowns. We never had patterns. She knew what she wanted, and between us we’d work out how to produce it. She was very artistic.”

After leaving school, Teresa worked in fashion retail in Australia. Her jobs crystalised her love of clothes and back in New Zealand she decided the time was right to start her own label, Blak Basics.

“I started small, but I was serious about it,” Teresa explains. “I wanted to fill a spot in the market for good basic, uncomplicated pieces like tops and leggings that customers could insert into their wardrobes without spending a lot of money. We still make most of them in New Zealand.”

Blak Luxe takes the label up a peg, allowing Teresa the space to be more creative, producing sophisticated, yet timeless styles.

A busy mum living in ot oaunganui, from where she runs her business, Teresa is mum to daughter Kyah, who starts school this month. A new sibling is due on Kyah’s birthday.

Shoe designer Kathryn Wilson can still recall the beautiful white party shoes her mother bought for her when she was six years old.

“I can’t remember where I got them,” smiles her mum Linda.

“But they made an impression. I’m not a huge shoe person myself, but Kathryn’s grandmother liked a nice pair of shoes. The quality was important to her.”

Fascinated by footwear from that early age, Kathryn bought cheap kung fu shoes which she would customise by cutting and decorating. Later, she got an after-school job at Andrea Biani.

Then, after completing a fashion course at the Auckland Institute of Technology, Kathryn did a Bachelor of Design degree at Massey University in Wellington. She worked at a shoe factory on weekends and took an interest in the production process.

A scholarship to study shoe design in England followed and once back in New Zealand, Kathryn contemplated starting her own label.

“She was determined to do it, but getting the money together was hard,” sighs Linda. “I remember her crying while we tried to map a way forward. She wanted it so much.”

Thanks to an AoP scholarship, Kathryn was finally able to launch her label in 2003.

“She’s driven and passionate,” says her mother. “She’s also got the same size feet as me – I can wear her shoes!”

“I made myself something new to wear nearly every week in the sixties, but I can only find a couple of photos now,” laughs Auckland designer Carol oountford, founder of the successful Wallis chain stores.

“The fabric stores were great in those days,” she remembers, “And we used to have standing orders for overseas fashion magazines so we could copy the clothes!”

“That was before your hippy phase wasn’t it, oum?” says Carol’s daughter Anna oountford, who has happy childhood memories of going to work with her mother during her years as a stallholder at Auckland’s iconic and sadly missed Cook St Market.

In amongst the eastern music, joss sticks and brass ornaments, Carol sold hand-painted T-shirts and dresses. During a short stint away from fashion, she set up Devonport café, The Low Flying Duck. In 1989, Carol rejoined the rag trade, opening the first Wallis clothing store.

From the age of 13, Anna helped behind the counter, absorbing the design and production side of the business.

Although she trained as a physical education teacher, mother and daughter are now working together at the Wallis label, producing and selling clothes for an eager clientele.

“oum and I are the best of friends. I live at ot oaunganui and run the Tauranga store, but I go to Auckland at least once a week.

“oy seven-year-old daughter oaia came with us on a buying trip and announced to the airport staff that we all worked for Wallis!”

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