GT: Māori Fashion Designers

Māori art has been showcased all over the world in many different ways. One of which is in the world of FASHION. There have been a number of Māori labels over the years, some have been the product of Māori designers, others have not. We want to highlight just a few of those Māori fashion designers making money moves on the world scene!

  • Misty Ratima - Te Kohu - Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongamaiwahine, Rongawhakaata and Ngāti Hine descent – She started her EIT study journey at Te Ūranga Waka where she gained a Bachelor of Arts (Māori) and, after completing the fashion certificate programme, cross-credited into ideaschool’s Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design.  Since 2013, she has also tutored EIT students in te reo Māori. Te Kohu which means the mist – a play on Misty’s name is a fashion label that encompasses the Misty’s creative outpourings.  “In doing this, I am harnessing my skills as a means of sharing, firstly with Māori, but also with everyone else.”  Her  aim is to share cultural concepts and ideas through fashion, contemporary art and language.

  • Dan and Charmaine Love - Kia Kaha Clothing - Kia Kaha Established was in 1994 – Dan started making the shirts in the family garage in papamoa. It traces its origins back to selling T-shirts at Sunday markets, but it gained international recognition when Kiwi golfer Michael Campbell dumped Nike in favour of Kia Kaha in 2003. That saw the launch of the Cambo brand, which he wore on the way to winning the US Open in 2005. Their designs have been worn by Michael Campbell, Prince William and Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie.
    More recently the company has focused on contract orders of uniforms for sports teams, Charmaine Love has her own label now.

  • Kiri Nathan - Kiri Nathan - The Kiri Nathan label is about identity & inclusivity! They are inspired by New Zealand! The label produces high-end fashion, Pounamu jewellery, handwoven accessories, contemporary Korowai and Kakahu (Maori cloaks).

    it is paramount that the people who work in her business adhere to Kawa and Tikanga (Protocol, customs, Integrity). She is also a reknowned weaver, creating handwoven accessories, contemporary Korowai and Kakahu (Maori Cloaks). Jason Nathan is the creator of the labels Pounamu Jewellery and Pounamu Artwork while Kiri is the fashion Designer. The husband and wife duo have a dynamic, creative relationship. Their creative collaboration produces pieces using new and previously unexplored techniques, while still drawing on the time-honoured and proven arts of Whakairo (carving) and Raranga (weaving). She is also a member of the 'Wahine Toa Initiative' in conjunction with the US Embassy. Identifying and mentoring leadership in young Maori Women.

  • Ranui Samuels - Size Supply Co - is a clothing brand started in the UK in 2005, and which we launched in NZ in 2010. We are based out of the Mount in Tauranga and aim to bring you original collections of premium graphic tees and casual wear. We are a brand based on the ethos of encouraging others to RISE up, positive belief, and proponents of positive insurgency. We are Undefeated and Unbowed. We are your encouragement to overcome that in your life which seeks to unseat and dominate you. We are your belief that you can overcome all things. “Fashion is an essential part of who we are as Maori, and we are now reaching that design into daywear, evening wear and couture and extending further than traditional art and craft.”

  • Shona Tawhiao - (Ngai Te Rangi, Whakatōhea, Te Whanau Āpanui) has made and exhibited her distinct style of raranga woven work for 25 years.

    Based in Mount Maunganui New Zealand, the mother of three was trained in traditional Maori raranga weaving techniques and methods, by the renowned weaver, Digress Te Kanawa at Unitec Insititute of Technology.

    The fusing of her love of fashion with her specialised abilities has enabled Shona to create Haute Couture from flax fibre known to Māori as harakeke. This has resulted in her unique style being dubbed “Harakeke Couture”.

    Shona’s award-winning collections of Harakeke Couture have been presented at New Zealand Fashion Week since 2010. She has also won the Villa Maria Estate Cult Couture premier award as an entrant in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

    Shona has regularly shown at the Indigenous Fashion Unearthed showcase in Melbourne since 2013 and has also put her design skills to good use in indigenous film and television too. As well as producing sets, she has worked in the art and costume departments for films’ Maori Merchant of Venice, River Queen and many others. Her talent is exquisite and undeniable.

  • Dion Seeling - Cravass - Based in the sunny Bay of Plenty New Zealand we are a small whanau (family) business working out of our Tauranga studio. Our clothing brand is "Streetwear infused with culture" we are influenced by Maori art and design giving our clothing brand an original New Zealand feel. we are NZ proud with a strong focus on adding Maori Ta Moko designs and art to clothing for men, women and kids. We transform plain T-Shirts and hoodies into original clothing. We design all our clothing in house and we can help you create your very own T-Shirt by bringing your ideas to life. We are open to any idea and we are more than happy to work with you in the design process. Our focus is on providing you, strong original Maori clothing with a modern feel.

  • Adrienne Whitewood - Adrienne Whitewood - Rongowhakaata. Inspired by Maori art and culture, Adrienne Whitewood takes traditional concepts and with them invents unique silhouettes exploring fabric manipulation and technology, her ethos is all about creating wearable clothing for women who want an emotional connection to clothing. In 2010 She debuted her first collection titled; 'Kimihia He Ngaro (Search for the unseen the nobtainable)' NZFW. In 2011 Adrienne Won the Supreme title at the Miromoda Fashion awards with her Collection 'Te Aho Tapu (the sacred thread)' which was  shown at last year's NZFW, part of her prize package saw her head to Melbourne fashion week, and be mentored by Jack Yan (Lucire Magazine) who has stated that "She has one of the strongest futures out of any of the contestants that have ever entered Miromoda". Adrienne now works full time in the industry and opened, ahu boutique on Eruera Street, central Rotorua (across from Capers) in 2013.

  • Taonga Huia Maxwell - Taonga Huia - Is Ngāti Uekaha, Ngāti Maniapoto. She was recently named as a runner-up in the emerging designers' category at the Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board's annual competition Miromoda in Wellington. Maxwell's result comes off the back of her inclusion in the Global Indigenous Runway 2018 at the Melbourne Fashion Festival in March.

    She said she had always been creative, and her designs are inspired and conceptualised from various aspects of her Māori culture. Maxwell wants her fashion label "Kahu Huia" to be known as "kākahu with kaupapa". Her "biggest learning curve" in the fashion world had been going back to study.

    "My first degree helped but my hands are my eyes. I learn by doing. Toi Ohomai has been giving me the tools to work towards a collection."