Fashion News

How Zambesi keeps its cool

Simply You talks to the iconic 38-year-old New Zealand brand about keeping things cool and contemporary.

By Jessica-Belle Greer
Zambesi Resort '18 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

On the back of a whirlwind trip to Sydney, as the only New Zealand brand presenting a runway show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA), Zambesi co-founder Liz Findlay and designer Dayne Johnston reflect on how the brand stays ahead of the fashion pack.

What excited you about showing at MBFWA?

Runway shows are always exciting because it’s an opportunity to showcase our brand in a creative way through styling, lighting and sound. Getting together with our wider creative team including John Pulitano from Redken and Kiekie Stanners from M.A.C. is the icing on the cake so to speak.

In terms of business, Zambesi has a long established following in Australia and it is important that we maintain a presence in this market. The calibre of the event in terms of attracting press and buyers is especially useful for increasing our brand awareness on a local and global platform.

The last time you showed at MBFWA was 2013. How have the collections you showed at Australia’s Fashion Week changed in this time?

The DNA of the brand has not changed, yet we are constantly evolving, keeping the brand current and relevant. There is a continuity that runs through every collection which maintains the familiarity but it’s always accompanied by the unexpected.

What inspired your Resort’ 18 runway show?

The collection ‘Kaleidoscope’ is an exploration of modern vintage both in fabric and silhouettes. Textiles are always at the beginning of the creative process and the archive never ceases to offer inspiration. 'Kaleidoscope’ reflects the past and looks into the future with both realism and imagination.

Can you pick a favourite look?

Liz Findlay: The ‘training jacket’ and ‘trackies’ in ‘blush’ worn with the ‘cascade skirt’ in ‘luminaire’ organza (left).

Dayne Johnston: The ‘prague’ trench coat in sheer ‘luminaire’ organza worn over ‘blush’ track pants (right).

Tell us about the styling of the show.

The styling is a collaborative effort and it is inspiring, building a narrative with a creative and resourceful team. More and more we find the lines between traditionally masculine and feminine attire are blurred resulting in a genderless interpretation of clothing and styling. Zambesi finds new ways of dressing up and dressing down in a manner that remains youthful and effortless.

Zambesi Resort ‘18 lends itself to more than one expression, so in true Zambesi style we mix it up, luxe and sportswear collide!

We covered our signature Chelsea boots in our new season socks in pink, black and white to complement the collection, an idea we have played with in the past.

Heavily embossed leather in green, grey and black was crafted in belts and bags to accessorise the men’s looks.

Lighting and sound of course play a huge role in setting the mood - our creative show director Marissa Findlay kept the show itself very simple with emphasis on casting and styling with Sophie Findlay our music director setting the mood with the soundtrack to the show featuring Tori Amos.

Zambesi is 38-years-old, what do you think is the secret to the brand’s success?

A brand with such longevity that is produced in New Zealand can only succeed with strong core values and a commitment to staying contemporary. Zambesi believes in creating pieces that endure. One collection evolves into the next, building a timeless wardrobe for its faithful customers.

Tell us about the Zambesi customer, has this changed over time?

The signature of the brand remains consistent and true to its followers. Zambesi prides itself on being wearable for all ages, genders, body shapes and styles. We offer our customer a unique experience in dressing and respect their individuality, personal style and the way they choose to express themselves, be that a sophisticated corporate look, relaxed and effortless or high fashion street style.

Where do you see Zambesi in the future – are there any changes afoot?

Our feet are still on the ground and we still have many dreams to realise. We endeavor to keep developing and growing our brand and exploring ideas, for example our Z-colab, which involves working with our younger staff to create and develop their own designs, and our eyewear, fragrance and growing range of shoes and accessories.

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