Falling sign fitting symbol for end of Mild Red

Mild Red designer Donna Tulloch (left) with a model at the finale of the 2013 iD Fashion Show....
Mild Red designer Donna Tulloch (left) with a model at the finale of the 2013 iD Fashion Show. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
After a 40-year career in the fashion industry, Donna Tulloch said she did not know what the end would look like.

But when the street sign above her York Pl clothing boutique fell off she knew it was a fitting finale.

"This was truly a sign that it was the right time," she said.

The founder, designer and director of Mild Red - an "avant garde knitwear label" founded in Dunedin in 1995 - said she had spent the past five years planning how to wind down the business.

The label moved to online-only in February after she sold the physical store which had housed Mild Red for more than 25 years, and had since sold all their remaining stock.

Mrs Tulloch said she was not one for the limelight and was keen "to just have a quiet exit".

Even though it was planned years in advance, the store’s closure was still filled with high emotions, she said.

"It was a bittersweet moment ... It takes time to unwind mentally after creating a brand."

Mrs Tulloch said Mild Red specialised in textural, sculptural and monochromatic knit and woven collections which had a "tough elegance".

With Mild Red’s departure from Dunedin’s fashion landscape, the "circle of life" would continue and new designers would come through to fill the gap, she said.

A highlight from her career was being name-dropped by Colin McDowell - a world-renowned fashion commentator, author and academic - in an interview after viewing her first solo show Poetic Corrugations at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2002.

She had also kept her exhibition garments and finale outfits from all of her New Zealand fashion weeks - and especially treasured her Japan exhibition garments.

Mrs Tulloch said there was no definitive answer as to whether Mild Red was closed for good, and now planned to "stitch a new life" by spending more time with her family.

While the label was closed for now, she wanted to keep the door open a little.

"As a creative person and as a designer - creating never stops.

"I need the option to be able to design and produce garments down the track if I want to."