Fashion designer Jane Sutherland (right) strides along the catwalk at the 2012 iD Dunedin Fashion Show. Photo by Chris Sullivan/ID Fashion.
When it comes to fashion capitals, the tiny settlement of
Kingston is unlikely to feature alongside the likes of Paris
But fashion designer Jane Sutherland has grown to love the
lifestyle that came with living in the village, with a
population of about 250, on the southern shore of Lake
Established in 2004, the eponymous Jane Sutherland label had
dealt with many challenges, including its location.
But with a lot of hard work and determination, there was no
other option than to make it work, Ms Sutherland said.
She was brought up in Invercargill, her childhood surrounded
by creativity, and she recalled watching her father, a
self-taught jeweller, tinkering away in the garage, making
anything from a Sunburst sailboat to metalwork creations that
later evolved into jewellery.
She had an interest in many areas of design, including a
strong passion for photography - ''to this day, I find it
hard to put the camera down on a daily basis, leaving me with
huge files of images waiting to be edited'' - but never
envisaged she would end up as a fashion designer.
She spent a year training in Dunedin under Georg Beer at the
Fluxus contemporary jewellery gallery.
It was while she was at Fluxus that her partner, Duane Hibbs,
who was in Invercargill, saw the garage in Kingston was for
sale and decided he would like a lifestyle change and asked
if she wanted to accompany him.
While it was ''a bit of a shock'' initially and it took about
six months to settle in, she now loved it and would not
leave, she said.
Kingston was a ''wonderful'' place to raise son Victor (3)
and, combined with trips to the city, a nice balance had
While it could feel a little isolated at times, particularly
not being surrounded by other like-minded creative people,
technology meant she could work from anywhere.
There was also the advantage of being able to go down to the
lake in the morning for a swim or kayak, or hopping in the
boat at night and going fishing.
Initially, it was rings and other pieces of jewellery that
began to evolve from the Kingston workshop and were sold in
select New Zealand galleries.
Metal designs were bolted to T-shirts - painstaking hours
were spent making the nuts and bolts - and Plume in Dunedin
and Angel Divine in Queenstown were the first to stock them.
It was those T-shirts and a love of fashion that led Ms
Sutherland to create a clothing label. With a love of
history, time spent studying the legend of King Arthur, among
other mediaeval tales, led to the placing of the Excalibur
sword in her logo.
Now stocking eight stores nationally, Ms Sutherland felt the
time was right to create an online store that would
eventually showcase unique designs incorporating metalwork.
Those designs would not be for the mass market and were
''something a little special''.
Russell Sutherland, from Company of Strangers, and Sara
Muntz, from Gaia Jewellery, were on board with ''some amazing
jewellery'' and a collaboration with an ''exciting artist or
two'' would be forthcoming, she said.
Ms Sutherland's inspiration came from many sources, including
shapes, sculptures, architecture, characters in literature,
history, film, music, nature or ''anything I find
''I save all these thoughts and ideas into a confused folder
and then find the right time to translate its contents in the
When it came to other fashion labels, she loved the likes of
Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Vivienne Westwood, Rick
Owens and Nom*D.
Ms Sutherland admitted she found it hard at times to create
garments that were creative with a point of difference, yet
commercial enough to sell.
''It can be a fine line on whether or not you like creating
commercial clothes or living a more complicated life,'' she
While she understood the main focus was on wearability, the
art aspect should not be lost in the process.
She acknowledged there had been times when she thought she
would ''pack it in'' and there had been plenty of ups and
She did not know a lot about the fashion industry when she
first entered it, and had to learn everything along the way.
But she loved her work and wanted to ''keep doing what I'm
She wanted to focus on having her online store going well and
building it into a ''real shopping experience'', while also
wholesaling to selected stores, building on the brand and
''keeping things growing''.
She was delighted to be selected for the 2013 iD Dunedin
Fashion Show in March, saying it was always a pleasure to be
involved. She first showed at the event in 2009.
The event continued to grow and it had helped designers build
their brand and brand awareness. She looked forward to it
each year and enjoyed showing alongside other labels, like
This year, she will be showcasing six outfits in the capsule
collection comprising a vibrant purple ''Ziggy Stardust''
jacket - ''something David Bowie would not have looked out of
place wearing on ''The Spiders From Mars'' tour - mixed with
a palette of blues, a little handcrafted metalwork and a hint