Getting a fashion label off the ground is hard graft, and designer Ingrid Starnes has cleared more than a few hurdles.
Who do you work with on a daily basis?
My partner Simon [Pound] has a lot to do with the business – he oversees sales, retail and online so we are constantly talking over and working through things. With the stores going seven days, it never really stops.
I also work with Jane Stanbury, my production manager, who works a couple of days a week, Erin Catley, who works between the workroom and store, and Ali McIntosh of Tessuti, which we share the stores with. I’m always in contact with our machinists, fabric suppliers, the people that dye and print fabric for us, the cutters, graders, my pattern-makers – there are a lot of people who play a part in making the clothes.
What’s it like being part of the fashion industry?
I love it, I love everything about the different stages it moves through, the juggling of designing and sampling a new range while production of the previous range is underway. I love all the people involved who help to make the clothes, each person’s job from the dyer to the printer, sewer, presser is so specialised. It still really amazes me to see how much work and how many stages it takes to make one piece of clothing.
How do you get new ideas for your pieces?
I’m inspired by a mixture of the old and new. I guess I start with the fabric and with a long love of sewing. I like to reference and work with traditional techniques, details and natural materials. Really, it’s the craft side of fashion I love, rather than really any trend kind of thing. Vintage clothing and textiles.
When did you get your first big break?
When we produced our first range in 2009 we were very lucky to get press support. Auckland store Made were the first to pick us up, and then Viva in the NZ Herald put a dress on the cover and Urbis and Fashion Quarterly each did a profile, and that really helped stockists around the country hear about us. Many of the stockists have five people calling them every day trying to get stocked, so media support really helps you stand out. Opening Fashion Week last year was also a great lift for the label – it helped us be in front of a lot more people. Still, we are really small and quite new, so there is a wee way to go yet.