The Dunedin students who sold their way to Shanghai

  • Design
  • November 30, 2017
  • Findlay Buchanan
The Dunedin students who sold their way to Shanghai

Eighteen years of iD Dunedin Fashion weeks, as well as a globally recognised bachelor’s degree in fashion - it appears there is more to Dunedin’s fashion scene than David Bain’s sweater collection. Students Lillian Cotter and Paige Jansen have made their mark there with a pop-up store that funded a research trip to Shanghai.

Cotter and Jansen this year and last held pop-up shops in a George St space which formerly housed the Hydro Surf store. They were joined by fellow creative Grace Mirams in offering a mixture of arts, crafts and clothes at the Co-Act shop.

 “Lillian and I both made around 50 pieces each in the polytechnic sweat-shop, creating garments with various styles,” says Jansen. “We brought together contrasting design aesthetics in a complementary way, meaning we had a good variety which appealed to a wide range of people, which I think helped with the success of the shop.”

The 2017 pop-up in March was “banging with foot traffic”, according to Jansen. Thanks to their loyal Dunedin patrons, three quarters of the stock was sold out in the first day. Cotter and Jansen’s final earnings equated to over $8000, which they put towards a planned research trip to Shanghai in October.

Both Cotter and Jansen were accepted into the scholarship set up by the Otago polytech’s sister programme with Shanghai, which allowed them to shoot with Shanghai models; gain insight into its culture; and collaborate with fellow students.

Cotter outlined her experience in Shanghai: “I think the biggest eye-opener for me was being able to see aspects of production first hand, which changed my original perception of ‘Made in China’. I saw some of their tailors and fabric markets work their magic and it gave me a new respect for their culture.”

 “It is very minimalist and straight-cut rather than focusing on being trendy,” Cotter says of the Shanghai fashion scene. “At the shows, we saw student-based work, which portrayed the culture. Stylistically, the clothes attained fictional undertones and cartoon influenced design, a refreshing contrast to New Zealand’s style of design. The detail and finishings that was put into their work showed there was a bit more patience there.”

After delving into Chinese culture, the pair are back in Dunedin. They have just put together their final haul of garments.

Jansen describes the pair’s final collection: “Based on The Modern Lovers album and a persona I generated while listen to it, and an op-shop jacket which embodied that persona. The clothing line couples music with fashion. A heavily 1970s inspired silhouette, feminine and floaty mix with structured and tailored silhouettes. The collection was an ode to that time, inspiring confidence in the wearer and advocating for personal expression.”

Jansen and Cotter’s clothing has just appeared in a Kiwi polytech show for the first time.

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