Melanie Cutfield has been the creative director at The Warehouse since the beginning of 2016, establishing a design team to analyze trends and come up with design concepts for their ‘Head to Toe’ fashion range. We talk to her about the influence of New Zealand Fashion Week and how affordable fashion labels are getting smart about style.
How have you seen digitalisation affect the fashion industry?
Digitisation has had a huge influence, it’s definitely changed the way designers analyse trends and create collections. When I was working in London it was pre-internet so we would look at what was released on the catwalk and then design and develop a high street version of that. But now, people are a lot more informed about what’s on trend, so retailers have to really step up their game.
Do you still think the catwalk is as powerful as it used to be for directing the future of fashion?
See, the catwalk used to be the thing that drove all of the fashion and then the magazines would present that vision back to the consumers. However with technology being so accessible and street fashion becoming popular, it isn’t necessarily high-end fashion houses driving fashion anymore, or big marketing companies with million dollar budgets, it’s social media influencers.
How has social media changed the fashion game?
Over the years we’ve seen a sort of flattening our social classes due to social media. Now, everyone has a voice and I think that’s why companies feel like they need to buy someone with a following because you can’t buy that from advertising companies. Even some of the high fashion houses have taken on designers, Virgil Abloh is now the designer for Louis Vuitton and he used to be the ‘Off-White’ designer with quite a rough background. It’s started a trickle-up effect, without a doubt,
You’ve worked overseas in fashion and here in New Zealand, how do you think Kiwi fashion measures up?
Oh, I think retailers who disregard New Zealand designers and fashion trends are missing out. When I first started working here, I stopped taking my lead from the northern hemisphere and starting looking at New Zealand labels to understand the look and feel New Zealand women aspire to. That had a huge impact on our sales because there are certain things Kiwis value in terms of design.
What are some ‘classic kiwi trends’ you see in the fashion industry?
In terms of colour palette, you can definitely see a lot of earthy tones, a lot of rich burgundy, greens and browns. As an outdoors country there is definitely a trend towards activewear and clothes that are comfortable and adaptable.