Dressing up (or down) for summer

Josie Steenhart checks in with some of New Zealand’s most-loved designers on their oh-so-stylish holiday plans, what they’ll be wearing and what their customers (including Dunedites) are 
looking to now for the long Kiwi summer.

Karen Walker

Summer 2023-24 is my usual holiday plan: a week of recovery from the year in my backyard - napping, reading, swimming, pottering; a week at the ASB Classic (looking forward to seeing Coco again!); a week back in the office; two weeks on Aotea Great Barrier Island doing nothing much at all besides beach walks, swims, naps and books.

In my own backyard and on Aotea I go very simple - various cotton items on high repeat.

This summer I think it’ll be our Lotus Tiered Dress and Prairie Organic Cotton Shirred Dress.

These will be paired with a fresh pair of Arizona EVA Birkenstocks, a Sensi Studio Panama hat and some great shades.

When I’m on Aotea I always take a fresh pair of PJs also as friends drop in at any time of day and, even though I’m at the beach, I have standards!

What seems to be shaping up to be hot in holiday attire are striped shirts in breezy cotton and our Armeria seersucker midi dresses.

Anywhere in New Zealand summer can take you by surprise, so having a raincoat and a layer of cashmere on standby is always a good idea.

New Zealand designers will be enjoying their holidays in some of the country's favourite hot...
New Zealand designers will be enjoying their holidays in some of the country's favourite hot spots and wearing (from left) Juliette Hogan's Robin short (bottom), Karen Walker's Prairie shirred dress (top), Vicki Taylor Raffia dress, Recreate's Charlie top, Sara Aspinall's Shutter shirt and Kate Sylvester's Queenie Ruffle dress. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/GRAPHIC: ODT

Sara Aspinall, Company of Strangers + Company store

We close our physical store for two weeks to give all our staff time to unwind with their families. We’ve done this for the last two years. It’s so good! So I’ll be heading with the family to the mighty Kurow in North Otago for summer river swims and some Lake Benmore boat time.

I keep things very simple in the summer. I usually take a couple of easy throw-on dresses, a pair of good floppy wide-leg pants like our Savant pant, which feels like a skirt but is pants ... so airy when it’s hot!

For us, the Reset shift is proving to be the piece to take you from the beach to the BBQ. The Art shorts for most versatile black shorts (the fabric is so great for summer: you can roll them up in a beach bag, quickly steam in the shower and wear them out dressed up). Also the Shutter shirt in cotton voile, which was designed to throw over your togs or use as a light jacket in the cooler evening hours, then wear back to work after the holidays.

Dunedin is super unpredictable for summer - hot-cold flip-flops all through the day. Our Bemuse bomber is perfect for this. A longer line, casings and a nice wide sleeve keep it airy but also give you a little warmth if you need it. Again such a versatile piece, it can be worn casual or dressed up for summer events.

Juliette Hogan Adaline dress - Botanica
Juliette Hogan Adaline dress - Botanica

Juliette Hogan

This summer, we’ll be heading up north to the beautiful Tutukaka Coast for Christmas Day itself and through to the New Year. Mum and Dad have a place up there and we, the whole family, love heading there to be together.

It’s a really social two weeks with loads of people coming and going. The days are spent eating, swimming, walking around the bays, reading books, building sandcastles, searching for pirate money, collecting tuatua, doing puzzles and spending time with the people you care about most. The perfect way to see out a year and welcome in a new one.

I’ve already been loving wearing our summer cotton prints during the days, and then relaxing in some JHL in the evenings. I love a matching set, so will be taking a few to Tutukaka.

Cotton prints are definitely proving super popular so far this summer, as well as long sleeve shirts (my Resort shirt is my favourite beach day shirt), and our summer beach wraps. I think people have really been gravitating towards easy and joyful pieces - lots of statement colours.

JHL is a must for a Dunedin summer - both the short-sleeve and long-sleeve top options along with the shorts and trackpants. They are really easy lightweight layering pieces. I also always pack a puffer jacket [for holidays], even when heading up north, as I love being wrapped up and warm in the evenings.

Jess Beachen Jessica Flora shirt
Jess Beachen Jessica Flora shirt

Jess Beachen, Jessica Flora

I hope to take some time out from the shop and studio over the summer to head to the lakes, where we love to take the boat out and camp in the many amazing bays on Lake Benmore.

Being a North Island girl originally I’m always blown away by the vast and incredible landscape on our doorstep, although I am very much looking forward to getting back to Hawke’s Bay briefly for Christmas to catch up with the family.

I will definitely be wearing a lot of our summer pieces on repeat, our It’s A Done Deal collared shirts are the perfect throw-over on lake days and we have so many amazing colours about to be released in this style.

And when the weather warms up I look forward to wearing our new colourway in the Golden Hour Maxi Skirt and the Follow My Lead short sleeve linen blouse for the perfect fresh summer look.

For summer/holiday attire you can’t go wrong with an easy long sleeve button down shirt that can be worn as its own statement or thrown over your togs on a hot day.

For South Island summers a good jumper is always on me, either on or over my shoulders. I have been pairing a lot of our summer collection with a range of jumpers from Ohae Knitwear while the weather warms up, and they have been the perfect match. My favourite from there at the moment is the coral stripe organic cotton jumper - a perfect lightweight piece for summer.

Vicki Taylor, Taylor + The Shelter boutique

I can’t wait for the summer holidays - we escape to a very small beautiful white sand beach in the Coromandel where I return to old school New Zealand. We park the car and walk everywhere. There are just a smattering of beach houses and only one shop that sells everything from bait and petrol to freshly baked breads each morning.

My summer will involve walks over sand dunes, family beach days and, of course, sunset walks and outdoor barbecues with friends.

This is my escape from the fashion world and my time to appreciate the natural beauty of our coastline. We all just hope the sun decides to shine this year and the cyclones stay away.

My beach wardrobe becomes really simple - I love big oversized dresses that I pull on over my swimsuit.

A relaxed pant with a sleeveless tee or tank never goes astray during the summer break.

Our Taylor washed viscose styles are perfect; they are light and viscose is always cool against the skin.

I team this with simple casual cottons from our 10 Pieces collection - our everyday cotton casuals. I can’t leave my fashion side totally behind, so I team these with my Rick Owens Sneaks or Yume Yume tyre slides to complete my outfits.

This summer, dresses have been our most popular. Our Coralise dress has been such a winning style, suiting so many body shapes and also it becomes such a great wardrobe addition. It can be worn under a sheer layer or on its own - pull on a tailored blazer for heading out for dinner or add a summerweight sweater and slides for weekend cool.

Our Ozone and Reprise dresses are in exclusive prints inspired by my travels on the Otago Rail Trail. The colours and textures I experienced created such a fabulous inspiration.

Living on a small island means anywhere you’re celebrating New Zealand summer normally requires thinking about what layer you can add when the wind picks up, or the sun and temperature dips, and which layers can you shed when the heat kicks in.

Pieces from the Black By K&M collection from Netherlands are the perfect weight for everyday Dunedin.The Circular Evolution styles in 100% cotton, such as the hoodie dress or sweater, keep you feeling cool yet ready for summer.

Kate Sylvester

Our plans for this summer are catching up with family and friends - we’re doing a road trip that covers the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, the Bay of Islands and Ahipara!

I’ll be wearing as little as possible! Our Laurette linen shorts, our summer check slip and for New Year’s Eve I’ll be dancing in our Queenie ruffle dress.

Shorts are the superstars of this summer and not just to wear casually, our Robyn shorts have been equally popular as a corporate alternative to skirts or trousers.

For the likes of those ‘‘different’’ Dunedin summers, we always make sure we have some great layering pieces in our summer collections. Our lacey Piper cardigan and Marley stripe skinny rib are great for cooler days and evenings.

ReCreate blouse
ReCreate blouse

Marielle van de Ven, ReCreate

We have quite the lineup this summer. Next week, my family will arrive from the Netherlands, and I can’t wait to show them all of Otago’s and the South Island’s finest spots.

We’ll be setting up camp at The Camp in Hāwea, staying at Hooker Hut under Mt Cook and hopefully we’ll catch a good window of weather to camp at Purakanui Bay campground in the Catlins. Lots of adventures and travelling around.

We’re going to throw a little wedding in the mix too, in our garden in Clyde.

Then once my family has gone back to the Netherlands, we’re going to take a month off work to go camping around the South Island, before our newest family member will arrive.

I’ve been based in Clyde for three years now, and I’m trying to convince myself that I’m a ‘Lakes girl’, but reality is, I miss the ocean dearly! So I can’t wait to set up camp at some South Island beaches. Banks Peninsula, Abel Tasman, Golden Bay. In between all our adventures, time at home will be spent in my veggie garden.

This summer I’ll be living in my ReCreate Ash dress, as well as my ReCreate Contour dress.

Both are comfy for my growing belly. I designed the Contour dress in mind with covering up the chest from the relentless Central Otago sunshine. For a bit of layering, I’ll pop the handwoven Charlie top on.

Our ‘‘Handwoven’’ styles have been really popular this summer, it is such a special and beautiful fabric. Produced entirely by hand, the cotton is spun into thread and dyed using natural and organic materials such as local barks, vegetable skins and flowers. The thread is then handwoven on a loom. The finished fabric is gentle and textured with a ‘‘perfectly imperfect’’ weave, making each garment unique. The garments get better and better over time - they get softer and wear beautifully.