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Fashion designer Karen Walker has axed five staff from the popular label’s Auckland workroom following a restructure and change in operating model.
Walker said the brand had shifted from the “outdated fashion calendar” and had last year gone through a restructure to modernise the business, which had resulted in significant changes to production requirements.
Four machinists and one pattern-making role had been disestablished following the restructure, Walker confirmed to the New Zealand Herald.
She said three of the machinists who were laid off would continue to work with the brand, which sells clothing, jewellery, sunglasses and other accessories, on a contracting basis.
“Between 2016 and 2019 our sample development requirements changed significantly. In this time, we moved from four large main collections or “seasons” per year, as per the traditional but outdated fashion calendar, to a model much more in keeping with customers’ needs in 2019: 12 tight monthly collections,” Walker told the Herald.
The brand, which is one of the few remaining New Zealand brands with a in-house production team, had also cut back on its runway shows, which meant it now required fewer samples, she said.
“We stopped presenting our collections as traditional runway shows at New York Fashion Week after 20 seasons using this model. We now present there in a more efficient and effective way via shoots, samples in showroom, one-on-one appointments - a model that requires far less samples.”
Karen Walker’s Auckland workroom is now made up of a team of 15: four ready-to-wear and accessory designers, a print designer, a sampling development manager, a pattern maker, a sample cutter, three sample machinists and four production staff, she said.
Last month Karen Walker’s The Department Store in Takapuna, on Auckland’s North Shore, closed down after 10 years in business.
At the time, Walker said the amalgamation of brands built on a revolving concept no longer worked in 2019.
Walker said the restructure in its Auckland workroom was separate and all staff working at the Karen Walker concept in The Department Store continued to work for the company.
Karen Walker operates retail stores in Newmarket, Britomart and Wellington.
The Britomart store will relocate to Hotel Britomart, which is expected to open mid-year, opposite Tiffany & Co in downtown Auckland, and its Wellington store will relocate to Victoria St.