• Erika Achilles

NZ made is not dead...

NZ made is not dead!

I am extremely lucky that throughout my business I’ve always seemed to attract the most incredible, optimistic, anything is possible kinds of people. But everyone, especially when the fashion industry is full of doom and gloom news, can have a lapse of faith. It happens to the best of us. I’ve spoken to other NZ designers about this, how contagious a negative opinion or attitude is within a small business (or even a large company). It only takes one person to spark a conversation about the dire state of the industry and suddenly the morale of the entire team drops. I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it and I’m over the toxic talk. I constantly hear, “We’re in such a tough industry.” It’s used as an excuse for every situation – when sales drop, when a style isn’t right, when a collaboration doesn’t happen. It drives me crazy because it’s such old school thinking. When I hear people complain about it being a tough industry, that it’s so hard to compete being NZ made, in particular with the costs involved, I want to throw my hands in the air and scream!

Anyone’s Daughter is such a great brand and we have an amazing following of loyal stockists and customers now, more than we’ve ever had. Yet years ago when I launched Anyone’s Daughter, when no one had ever heard of me, when everyone said NZ made was dead or dying and we didn’t even have a “brand” yet, I went and sold my dream into 18 NZ stockists in the first season and a couple of years later it was this sort of can do attitude and quality edgy style that got Anyone’s Daughter recognized by a USA agency. Now we not only have a product but we have a brand and social media, our website, print media, events, stockists, my book Rules + Rebels… the list could go on and on. Now look me in the face and tell me NZ made is dead. I call bullshit on that!

But then again maybe it’s just because we’re not moving at lightning speed and delivering container loads of crap? This is a controversial view but I believe in quality over quantity plus I love limited edition and don’t want people all wearing the same outfit and I want my stock to sell out.

Quality clothing lasts and loved clothes don’t end up in landfill. They are kept and worn season after season, or handed on, or swapped with friends or sold second hand so someone else can wear and love and you can spend that money on something new. Anyone’s Daughter has always been about versatile, wearable, refined pieces, which work for long term relationships, not a one wear fling. It’s about just the right amount of attitude, pieces you can wear from day to evening, season to season. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 23 years and Anyone’s Daughter is 14 this year. I don’t know if that makes me an “expert” but that kind of experience does mean I have a clue or two. I’ve gone from one small store in downtown Tauranga, to creating global sales opportunities. I started my business with a team of two and have grown to a team of 20. We’ve gone from communicating via fax machines to now sending daily emails and instant messages. Everything we photographed was once on processed film, now we have digital immediacy. We’ve moved from print media, to constantly changing social media platforms and the changes in the industry are constantly evolving.

Evolving, always. Changing, like any industry experiences over time. But NZ made is not dead. We have our challenges, but we’re standing strong and staying true to our ethos. During these toughest times we still have constant victories, reasons to be grateful and achievements to celebrate.

I have an amazing team that helps keep our NZ made talent alive and I receive messages and emails frequently from customers that love what we do. I have a stock pile of these that I can dip into when I wonder, on a rare occasion, if all this effort and money is worth it. The answer is always YES!

P.S. I’m wearing the new City Limits Top – Zebra. Limited edition. Made in NZ.

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