Conscious Living

6 ways you can support the local fashion community right now


Wondering how and why you should support the New Zealand fashion industry during this crisis? Shopping locally will help keep businesses afloat, support makers, and (we hope) bring some shreds of joy to our suddenly smaller lives.

Covid-19 is here and we’re all adapting. The global fashion industry has already been affected hugely, and here in Aotearoa designers and brands are frantically re-calibrating in order to survive the economic fallout of combating this pandemic.

While we practice social distancing and navigate our more isolated experiences, it’s also important (for those who are financially able) to continue investing in local businesses.

Small, independent businesses are struggling right now – many lack safety nets and run on tight margins. Larger local companies are vulnerable too, plus many New Zealanders rely on these bigger operations for employment.

Consumers are reining in spending, foot traffic has dried up, and traditional means of marketing and creating content (fashion week, customer shopping nights, events) will need to be rethought. What’s happening overseas affects brands here too; supply chains are interrupted, and international sales appointments and orders may have fallen through.

With all of these challenges, not to mention the anxiety everyone is feeling, it’s important to support our local business community and creatives – which, we hope, will protect our local industry and ensure it comes through this.

The good news? Unlike other industries clothing is non-perishable, can be sold with minimal contact or lingering, and many businesses are already set up with online stores – even the little ones! Those with on-shore production are thankfully less vulnerable to manufacturing halts overseas – though they certainly still feeling ripples throughout their supply chain, and have already been struggling to survive in recent years.


In this dark uncertain time, when so much has changed, it’s vital to seek out things that bring us joy. Fashion is powerful. It can help us hold on to our identity when all other means of doing so have been stripped away. It enables self-expression and the ability to explore our creativity. Clothing also fosters a sense of community with like-minded people – solidarity and support that we need right now.

Though we advise a cautious fiscal attitude, for those who are able to we implore you to make carefully considered purchases that will support the local industry. If you buy one thing you really love that’s made to last, buy it from a New Zealand fashion business.

This is a time for innovation and creativity, for community and support. Let’s all work together and get through this.

Scroll down for some different ways you can support our industry.


Shop local

We believe it’s a priority to support local businesses. This means your money is going directly into the pockets of other New Zealanders to provide security and employment. This is an approach we have supported long before Covid-19. The nature of our local fashion industry means that many brands – even the more established ones – are comparatively small operations that run on tight margins.

While it’s easy to buy things on Amazon, can we get the same items from local retailers if and when we need them? Where our money will help pay Kiwis’ wages? Locally made is ideal, but locally operated is good too.

Our latest issue and online archive are both full of local designers worth knowing and supporting – subscribe to Fashion Quarterly so it can be delivered directly to your door.

Shop online

For those practicing social distancing and in self-isolation, our hyper-connected modern world means that e-commerce is now the norm – and it’s accessible for small businesses too.

Under quarantine, most businesses can’t or won’t be able to deliver online orders immediately – but don’t let that stop you. Embrace slow fashion; buy something now (if you’re in a position to do so) and receive a little later, that wait will be worth it. If a brand is still posting, you can direct them to hold onto your item until a safer time.

Gift cards are also a great option if you want to support local designers and brands but don’t need anything right now. Save it for later (when we can leave the house) or buy one for a loved one who may need a pick me up.

Does a maker you like not have an online store? DM them on Instagram, or phone them up! They’ll appreciate your interest and support.

Shop thoughtfully

Make carefully considered purchases. Ask yourself: Why do I love this? and What longevity do I see it as having in my wardrobe? What impact will it have on the world and people around me? The FQ team have put together this handy guide to help you shop thoughtfully.

We all have time on our hands right now (and god knows we need some distractions) so why not spend a few hours researching local brands that are new to you, or exploring what fashion options are around currently. What brands do you like already? Or had forgotten about? What do people recommend?

Engaging with the circular economy of pre-loved clothing is the most grass-roots things we can do, and now is an opportune time to trawl Trademe and online vintage sellers; there’s a passionate vintage community on Instagram, or you could download Depop.

Stay connected

Follow your favourite local designers, makers and stores on social media – like their posts, comment and share things you love with your followers and friends.

Magazines (like Fashion Quarterly) and members of the industry are also great to keep tabs on, as we’re all working to share positivity, innovation and dialogue around fashion. You can subscribe to our magazine online, or still pick up a copy at your local supermarket.

Start conversations, slide into people’s DMs, and keep the dialogues going and ideas flowing.

Stay inspired

Buy and read books and magazines, watch films, make a moodboard – or get back on Tumblr! Nurture the different ways you engage with and discover fashion and why. Feeling inspired is how life keeps going.

Think of it as creating desire and then facilitating a reward, or simply eating when you’re hungry. When you fuel your creativity and explore things that you find stimulating and enriching, that in turn leads to the urge to express your thoughts and feelings via tangible means – like through clothing and adornment.

Find joy

While it’s tempting to just wear track pants and a T-shirt (and we pass no judgment on those who do) why not seize the opportunity provided by enforced domesticity to try on your wildest clothes – all those “why did I buy this?” garments. Treat your wardrobe like a dress-up box; turn on some music and put together some wild combinations.

For those working from home, when dialing into your daily video call for work, wear something to surprise and delight your team. That statement hat you swore you’d wear all summer? Sure! A DIY homage to John Galliano? Go for it.


 Words: Emma Gleason
Photos: Getty Images

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