Fashion show gets shake-up

Dunedin Railway Station will no longer be the venue for the iD Fashion Show. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Dunedin Railway Station will no longer be the venue for the iD Fashion Show. Photo: Gregor Richardson
ID Dunedin Fashion is sweeping the catwalk clean and heading in a new direction that will mean the end of the Dunedin Railway Station as a venue.

The emerging designers show at the Dunedin Town Hall will take over as the big ticket event, organisers hoping its international reach will help attract sponsors.

Margo Barton
Margo Barton
Otago Polytechnic academic leader of fashion Margo Barton has taken over as chairwoman of the iD Dunedin Fashion Week committee, and only one committee member from last year remains.

The changes come after two years of financial losses for the show and a growing realisation it needed change.

Last year, the event lost about $55,000, compared with a $124,126 net profit in 2015, and this year the loss was $25,000.

It was reported earlier this year the event was under review by auditor Deloitte.

An application for $95,000 funding was initially declined by the Dunedin City Council amid concerns about the viability and governance of the event.

It was later approved.

Dr Barton said a strategic review had shown most people thought the aspect of the week to expand on was the iD International Emerging Designer Awards.

The show would be renamed.

Dr Barton said it was the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and possibly the only one in the world open to public attendance, rather than being invite-only or only open to industry figures.

''That's why we get international press, sponsors love it, they want to be associated with these designers of the future.

''After reading the reviews and having lots of discussions we thought it's time to refocus and put the show at the centre.''

Key local designers had been involved in the strategic review and were aware of the changes.

''Most of the feedback is they're over the railway station and that whole experience.''

The change in focus could also help make the week more financially sustainable.

There were 170 entries for this year's emerging designers show from 56 design schools in 22 countries, from cities including Milan, Manchester, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Dr Barton said the show would enable a more international reach when the event was looking for sponsors.

''We've been very careful with our financial planning. We're still on the lookout for more sponsorship, of course. We're working hard to make it work.''

The change of venue would reduce set-up costs, as would having everything in one complex.

The emerging designer show would be held on Thursday and Friday evenings, and local designers, who had showed their wares at the railway station, would likely have shows beforehand.

While it was still being discussed, there might be individual shows held in spaces in the Dunedin Centre.

Dunedin designer, Nom*D's Margi Robertson, said she thought a new format was ''definitely required''.

The show had had a great 18 years, and needed something fresh and new.

''This new format sounds really exciting.''

Ms Robertson said the input of emerging designers was something from which local designers had benefited.

''They are the future.''

She would show her designs in the new pre-show format.

Former committee chairwoman Cherry Lucas said she was still working behind the scenes helping where she could, but had stepped down at a meeting in October to concentrate on other commitments.

She supported the new direction of the committee.

Ms Lucas said there had been ''challenges'' during her stint as chairwoman.

''What people don't appreciate is the huge time commitment.''

Some weeks she had worked for 60 hours on the show, and that was not sustainable.

Dr Barton said there was some nervousness about moving from the railway station, which had provided many of the images of the week.

Many people from outside Dunedin called the event ''the railway show''.

But she was more than confident the town hall show would work.

''You wait. The town hall's going to be exciting and unexpected, and it's not like going to a normal fashion show.

''We want to bring back some surprise.

''I just want to tell you that you'll be surprised.''

Dr Barton also had a dream some international designers could stay in Dunedin to work.

''That would take a really fantastic sponsor, a person that had a studio somewhere close to the city.''

She imagined the initiative becoming an ''incredible tourist destination''.

Local designers, fashion students and international designers could use it and ''really revitalise what we've got here''.

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