National | Kiri Nathan

Māori designer will open NZ Fashion Week for the first time

A garment by fashion designer Kiri Nathan who will open the 2023 New Zealand Fashion Week in late August.  Photo: David Shields / Supplied

Fashion designer Kiri Nathan will open this year's New Zealand Fashion Week - the first Māori designer to do so.

The fashion show which is considered the pinnacle event for the New Zealand fashion and beauty industry is this year "sharpening its focus on Te Ao Māori," organisers said.

"It's an honour to be the first Māori designer to open NZ Fashion Week and we’ll be showing our respect to the Māori makers and weavers of kākahu and clothing based on environmental impacts,” said Nathan, who is Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Hauā and Ngāti Paoa.

Kiri Nathan will be the first Māori designer to open New Zealand Fashion Week. Photo / Supplied

As a whānau-owned and operated business, Nathan said their work connects traditional and contemporary Māori fashion with the world - in a way that "reciprocates and respects culture, upholding the values of inclusivity through community and collectiveness with manaaki and tautoko to build success for many".

Talea Tatupu models a Kiri Nathan-designed garment. David Shields / Supplied

Nathan said they are particularly mindful of the wellbeing of future generations.

“We are committed to social cohesion and the informed wellbeing of people and planet. Our purpose is for intergenerational benefit. Ka ara ake tētahi, ka ara ake te katoa – one lifts, we all lift."

David Shields / Supplied

The Kiri Nathan collection which will open a fashion week "stacked with legends and NZ fashion icons" - Kate Sylvester, NOM D, Juliet Hogan, Katherine Wilson "and of course someone I love and adore, Dr Bobby Campbell Wahawaha Luke" - is based on the haerenga or journey of fashion for Māori, Nathan said, "from kākahu muka through to today and a look into the future".

New Zealand Fashion Week 2023 will run from Tuesday, August 29 until Saturday, September2.