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The Grand New Zealand Design Online Shopping Post

The tights look way better in person

It is New Zealand Fashion Week this week. Let us praise NZ Fashion Week for putting together one of the most accessible Fashion Weeks in the world, with scads of events for the general public, including a photography exhibition. If you can’t make it here…this post is a mini-online Fashion Week for you, to allow you to partake of New Zealand style from the comfort of your couch in Columbus, Long Island, or Delft.

The tights look way better in person

Left to right: Karen Walker gold robots, Iwi Designs tights, Trelise Cooper cuff and ring.

I read a spring edition of a New Zealand fashion magazine, which querulously begged us to not shop online overseas to Support New Zealand Business and the ideal of the “boutique” as a curated space. Luckily, New Zealand fashion has gone ahead and started the future – the desginers here are online, and they’re doing international shipping right. Yes, designer clothes are expensive. But there is a market out there for higher-end items, and they’re reaching out to find it. Just as I shop overseas from NZ, you can shop NZ from overseas.

So, why would you shop NZ from overseas?

  • Ethical production – Clothes made in New Zealand are made by workers earning New Zealand wages and protected by our labor laws. That makes them more expensive than other clothes, but it means they are ethically above board, and also…
  • Great quality and construction – I’m one of those awful people who shops with my hands – after I see a garment I like, I grab it and gauge its texture.I turn it inside-out. My little mitts have been all over these clothes and I am happy to vouch for them.
  • Superior fit for some figures – The cuts of Antipodean clothes are often great for taller women, women with “apple” figures, and women with a low hip-to-waist ratio. A friend of mine who’s on the cusp of American regular and plus sizes found that Antipodean plus sizes fit her like a dream.
  • Vive la difference – For something truly different, design from the other side of the planet can’t be beat.
  • Seasonal sales flip! – You’ll be ordering discounted items for the previous summer/winter that will arrive in time for your spring/fall. A lot of New Zealand clothes are also “transseasonal”, wearable any time of the year, as befits our temperate climate.
  • Sane and/or Free Postage – Researching this, I was startled by the designers offering flat rate or even free worldwide shipping. I also know that these online retailers will give you very personal customer service if required.
  • It’s all cheaper than it looks – The NZ dollar ranges between .70 and .80 cents of the US dollar in value.

Online shopping tips and links galore behind the cut!!

Important Online Shopping Tips

  • Don’t expect coupons/discounts on NZ sites beyond a sale price. This isn’t really part of NZ retailing. Yet.
  • Reviews of NZ items online? Not yet. The comment thread here is a good place for queries.
  • When In Doubt Go A Size Up. Too big can often be fixed, too small usually can’t. This is frustrating if you’ve gone online for size issues.
  • How Long Should It Take To Get A Package From NZ? To Asia and Europe: Two – three weeks. Items to Singapore or Hong Kong can come faster than that. From Australia: One week. To the USA: Two weeks.


Wish I had more on this list! Moody Nom’D and cutting-edge World had very limited online shopping, and the stunning Reignwear, none at all.

Serious fashion is serious

Left to right: Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker, Cybele.

  • Trelise Cooper – The most feminine mainstream designer in NZ, with a distinct romatnic aesthetic unifying her affordable-to-luxurious collections. Slightly older women wear her a lot, partly because they have the money. FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE, yo.
  • Kate Sylvester – Prettily intellectual clothes.
  • Karen Walker – She’s turned Kiwi quirk into an international fashion empire. Bless! Also, SOLID GOLD ROBOTS. As pendants.
  • Cybele – This edgy designer produces garments of such tactile deliciousness it makes me want to cry. Unique and iconic prints stay wearable for eternity, if you are a dusky time traveler.
  • Ballantynes – This Christchurch department store is a great comprehensive view of Antipodean design, cosmetics, and accessories. Their web site is done right – wish they had more on it.

Put On A Sweater

Sleek, warm, wearable merino and knits are worn everywhere here.

  • Icebreaker – Our merino overlords changed the way Kiwis dress by making thin, stylish, insulating layers for the 21st century.
  • Merino Queen – A softer take on merino.
  • Sabatini – Best known for their dreamy, higheset-quality knits, the scope of the rest of their range surprised me.
  • Untouched World – Another range best known for its knits that includes everything to wear with the knits.

Edgy and Quirky

If you like and can afford Anthropologie, take a look at these New Zealand designers.

None of the "indie" places had models of color, sorry

Left to right: Emma, S’Wonderful, Workshop Denim.

  • Workshop/Helen Cherry – I love their denim, but who buys jeans online? I do but at the price of people thinking I’m crazy. Agreeably dark New Zealand styles.
  • Starfish – “Eco fashion from New Zealand.” This was a favorite of Liv Tyler.
  • Thrive – A Thrive shirt is on heavy rotation in my wardrobe. Just sayin’.
  • Ricochet – Another one with the dark-and-serious vibe that is such a part of NZ style. Great construction.
  • Robyn Matheison – Very emblematic of the Wellington look – knit dresses and flexible separates.
  • S’Wonderful – Cute retro-flavored clothes. It’s always springtime in their store, it seems.
  • Emma – Stitched up right here in Wellington. Stunning fabrics and construction quality.

Quality Shoes and Bags

Will Maria, Blake, and Lola find happiness? Tune in to Shortland Street...

Top to bottom: Minnie Cooper “Maria”, Saben “Blake”. Konev “Lola”.

Let the coveting begin!

  • Minnie Cooper – I’ve seen New Yorkers – who have some of the best shopping on the planet – lose it with delight and spend up at Minnie Cooper. Their amazingly comfortable shoes and sturdy bags are instant chic and wear like iron. I’ve been to their Auckland factory, out near Avondale.
  • Kathryn Wilson – Invest in your uniqueness with these shoes. They hit my radar because she carries smaller sizes. Free international shipping!
  • Konev – These bags last forever. Period. FOREVER. My Konev messenger bag, in a delectable heavy cowhide, was the toast of queer LA a few years back. I go to their factory store, in the Tawa neighborhood of Wellington, once in a while.
  • Deadly Ponies – My friends who are more fashion-forwards than me are gaga for Deadly Ponies bags.
  • Saben – When I lived in Auckland, a Saben bag hung on the arm of every yummy Ponsonby mummy. Their designer purses are practical and their tote bags are edgy and useful. They are also now doing CUSTOMIZED bags.

Sweatshop-Free Quality

  • Kimberly River Socks – Made on vintage machinery in a Kiwi mill town, they have fun with their colors and the sock quality is dazzling. Wool and mercerized cotton options are available.
  • Thunderwear – The most adorable, comfortable, quirky cotton panties you’ve ever seen.
  • Lucy Lou Tights – Everything you’d ever want on tights. Flowers, feathers, birds, maps… Custom digital print tights available!
  • Iwi Creations – Maori designs adapted into subtly beautiful tights.
  • Duncan & Prudence – My Duncan & Prudence t-shirts die a long, slow death as I reluctantly face up to having worn them out…three or four years on. Use the Custom generator to get the quirky design of your choice.

Plus Size

In New Zealand, wherever there is a fashionable strip of street, you will find the plus-size stores…on the next street over?? The clothes have the quality and style to be on the main drag, I say.

Left to right: David Carmody at Zebrano, dress from TS14,City Chic “Acid Flash” collection.

  • TS14 – Like it says on the tin, “Australia and New Zealand’s leader in plus size clothing.” This is the place where my American friend had such shopping success, praising the fit.
  • The Carpenter’s Daughter – Featured at New Zealand Fashion Week and exclusive to New Zealand.
  • Zebrano – All the top Antipodean plus-size lines. Check the sale section!
  • City Chic – An offshoot of a larger clothing empire, sexy/sassy/trendy clothes.

-pant pant pant- Did I miss anything? Do you want to be included here, or have a favorite included? Let me know!

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