Dunedin fashion designer Sara Aspinall is picking up the
pieces of her summer collection after 70% of it was
destroyed in an Invercargill factory fire this week. Photo
by Peter McIntosh.
It is a case of third time unlucky for Dunedin fashion
designer Sara Aspinall, who lost 70% of her summer stock in an
Invercargill factory fire this week.
The Company of Strangers designer had her first collection
stolen from an Auckland showroom in 2004, and garments
destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes.
But the latest setback, involving the loss of fabric from
overseas worth more than $20,000, has not deterred the
She shed a few tears when told of the fire at Land South
Apparel, before springing into action to rectify the
"There's nothing you can do about it. It's gone. You can have
a big tantrum but that's not going to help," she said.
Mrs Aspinall ordered replacement fabric for the 380 garments
destroyed at the Invercargill factory and organised for a
Dunedin clothing manufacturer to recreate the bulk of her
She was lucky her fabric agent had extra stock on hand, and
the Dunedin firm adjusted its schedule to fit her in at the
"We are usually scrambling to get enough fabric as it is, and
it can take up to two months to arrive. It's amazing." Mrs
Aspinall was insured and hoped a payout would at least cover
Her small business needed the collection to survive, she
"If we don't remake everything, we wouldn't have any money to
keep going. Everyone thinks we must make a lot of money
because a jacket retails for hundreds of dollars, but the
margins are actually quite small.
"Everything is made in New Zealand because quality is
important to us and we want to keep it local, but that's more
expensive," she said.
Her summer line, initially due in stores this month, should
be available in September.
A box of dresses delivered from the factory before the blaze
would be in stores sooner.
Mrs Aspinall said most of her stock in Invercargill was
almost complete and due to leave the factory when the fire
"The majority of our stuff had been cut and was being made or
had been finished and was in boxes waiting for the courier to
pick up the next day," she said.
Company of Strangers was showing at New Zealand Fashion Week
in Auckland early next month, for which all garments were
Queenstown designer Claire Brinsley, of label Claire Bloom,
lost about 40 dresses, a few patterns and some fabric in the
fire. The bulk of her summer collection had already been