I met Ingrid Starnes at her 2018 runway show that recently occurred on O’Connell Street for Four Days of Fashion. I had just worn a dress from her label, to a recent ceremony; it has been a pleasure to get to know Ingrid and her partner Simon who have been so supportive and welcoming to me.
Now more than ever it is so important to support brands like Ingrid’s – locally and well made by people with immense talent. The New Zealand design industry is full of vibrant people, who need our support. As consumers, with every purchase we make, we help enforce a certain kind of culture.
With second hand shopping, online Afterpay and Laybuy as well as clothes swaps [done monthly at AUT University] it’s so easy for us to ensure we do better than support fast fashion.
You can shop my favourite pieces in this post with direct links to the pieces after the interview, as well as links to Ingrid Starnes pieces; found second hand at Tatty’s and on DW [they are not affiliate links]
Ingrid uses Afterpay on her site too!
I think Ingrid and her partner Simon are awesome and I know by the end of this interview you will too.
Can you give us some insight into how you started in fashion design and your label?
I don’t think there was one specific moment I grew up in a house where we made things, my mother and sisters all created and sewed so we were surrounded by it from since I can remember.
I guess my final year at high school when deciding on my university was a moment where I thought that’s a dream career I would like to pursue. I think I have been fulfilling that dream for a long time in terms of creating, I have always been involved in all of the jobs I had before starting my own label in a very creative design process.
I tackled starting my own label straight out of University but found it quite challenging so instead went on to work in few different fashion fields to gain more experience. Then after having the twins, my partner was like ‘you have to start, just make a few pieces and just start, and let’s see what happens’ – and that is really when it all began.
I wore one of your dresses, thanks to Showroom 22, to the ‘New Zealander of the Year’ awards. What’s the process like for you to create new pieces and collections?
That was the Adelia wrap, it was so cool you chose that and you looked amazing in it. Fabrics are a huge part of the design process, the way it falls, drapes over the body and the quality are essential.
With every collection I create a storyboard of images, colours and textures that are inspired by themes I’m interested in, from there the garments evolve and take shape through pattern making, toiling -where we make up a draft version in a substitute fabric and learn from the actual sewing and making, and fittings; it is such a joy to work on new collections I love every part of the journey.
How would you describe your daily fashion choices and do you have certain favourite pieces in your current collection, or prior collections?
My work changes so much on a daily basis that I generally dress pretty lux comfort. I would love to wear fancy shoes more often but we do so much moving around with pattern drafting, sewing and fittings that I just prefer to go with sneakers. I wear a lot of silk and am pretty obsessed with the Yanka pants at the moment with either our IS T-shirt or our cotton white Seb shirt and Magda coat.
What have been some of the challenges in your time running Ingrid Starnes and in the fashion industry?
There are constant challenging moments in the fashion industry, some harder than others, especially around the financial side of things. A few years back around 2012 was particularly hard, I had just had my third child and was working as a full-time mum and a full-time designer.
We were trying to grow the business on a shoestring budget with only a workroom team of the two of us and my partner Simon working a full time job and running all the business and marketing side of things, we were struggling!
I remember nights sewing runs of production jackets and having to be sampling a new collection at the same time. There was just not enough time or cash flow and it was very hard. But with the support of our main suppliers, and customers, and stockists and friends and family we got through.
The real trick is that you have to be a certain scale for it all to make financial sense, but it is very hard to build to that scale. We still face lots of different challenges, one at the moment is the very sad news of a number of the big fabric houses closing their doors, it’s a hard time for the industry at the moment and particularly hard for small guys like us when designing and buying most of our fabrics from NZ suppliers. It is so important to constantly keep adapting and evolving in this industry to overcome the forever changing shape of it.
Chlöe Swarbrick in Ingrid Starnes
IS: shop the collection