DSO: Tell us a bit about how you first began your career in fashion? Were you always drawn to designing womenswear or have you forayed into menswear as well?
WH: I’ve always been interested in fashion. I went to fashion school originally to study menswear, and the first exercise they asked me to do was womenswear and I loved it and the reason I think was because it gave me an outlet that meant I could design for something other than me and the story wasn’t about me.
DSO: In what ways do you feel that growing up in New Zealand, a country so rich in incredibly unique nature, has impacted the way you view fashion production and the importance of the quality of raw materials used?
WH: I think growing up in New Zealand has given me a real appreciation for high quality make and high-quality materials, and that is something that New Zealanders' really value on the whole. I also think that for New Zealanders to pay a high price for clothing, whether it is designer or not, the quality would have to be really high – and I hope that mindset stays the same.
DSO: What are the main highlights and challenges you face producing most of your garments in New Zealand?
WH: Highlights for me are definitely working really closely with the people that are producing our locally made goods. And definitely for them and for us to see the product that we’ve made here, on the rails, it really gives a sense of fulfilment. Challenges are definitely the sort of access to technology and the general lack of skilled workers in the industry. So that is something that we are constantly grappling with, but a challenge that we are happy to accept.
DSO: Could you tell us a bit about your design process when you first approach a new collection?
WH: When I start a collection, I generally would have a little bit of an idea of some element that I would like to introduce. That might be, a knitwear stitch or some unexpected element from outside of apparel that I want to introduce. So I will start researching that and probably incorporate it, and design a capsule collection, and the rest of the collection will kind of organically form around that.
DSO: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Are there any designers, artists, or places that you feel particularly inspired by?
WH: I am inspired from so many people and so many different things. I think often they come from outside of fashion and that’s probably because I take myself away from fashion to relax. When I'm relaxed is the time where there is space and time to be inspired. I was recently inspired by the local jeweller that we’ve recently worked with called Maeve Woodhouse, who has the label Hera Saabi, and her work is incredible – she is an amazing artisan. We were lucky enough to work with her on this latest collection.
DSO: If you could choose one hero piece from The Mode Edit, which would it be? How would you style it?
WH: I would choose the Moon Gown in Cobalt, because that is close to my heart. It is one the pieces that we worked with Maeve and Hera Saabi on. It’s a beautiful gown piece and effortlessly worn.
Photographer: Ana St