One of the pleasures of working in a business like Thomas’s is bringing the best clothing and designs in the world for our customers to shop right here in Marlborough. Forming enduring relationships with the creative forces behind these designs is another pleasure. Working with Elisabeth and Neville Findlay from Zambesi – which the husband and wife team founded in 1979 – has always been a delight. Liz has kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions about the art and inspiration behind this leading NZ brand and its creators.
Q. You place great value in your clothing being entirely New Zealand made. How have you managed to sustain this while other designers have had to look overseas?
First of all we are very proud that we are New Zealand made. This is a commitment we made early on and we are determined to continue on this path. There are challenges and consequences, however, this is something that is very important to us at Zambesi. We have a workroom in Newton, Auckland which is a very creative environment for many sets of skills required to pattern and construct our garments.
Q. How can we try to preserve, or re-introduce, specialist manufacturing and machinist skills in this country? How important is this?
By encouraging young people with the desire to make garments to take this on as a career move we could build a stronger manufacturing base. The construction of garments is an art and I feel it has been undervalued for some time.
The construction of garments is an art and I feel it has been undervalued for some time.
Q. We’ve heard you say you find inspiration in the fabric itself. Where else do you find inspiration – from your travels or from friends, people you meet?
I am continually inspired by the talented, creative staff around me in the workroom and our Zambesi stores. They are all individuals who wear the brand in their own way, keeping it real. We are so fortunate to have a loyal following which has been built over the years and this is inspirational as it continues to provide the challenge to create.
Q. Do you have a particular Zambesi muse? What does she embody?
Not really a particular muse! I find myself thinking about what I would like to wear, or see being worn. Pieces that may be missing from my own wardrobe and re-creating pre-loved garments from the archive.
Q. You’ve been producing Zambesi collections for more than thirty years. Do you have a favourite collection from these years or does each new collection become your favourite?
I don’t think I have a favourite collection and in fact I think we have produced one great big collection that is ongoing.
Q. What is your favourite piece from the Spring/Summer 2016/17 collection?
I love to mix things up a little so that would mean several pieces!
Q. Who in the world would you most like to see wearing Zambesi?
Anyone with an imagination – head in the clouds, feet on the ground.
Q. Favourite spot in New Zealand?
Home! Anywhere with the family!
Q. Favourite city in the world?
I do love Paris! I am so lucky that I go twice a year to buy imports for our stores, so that is like going shopping for others which satisfies my desire to choose things.
Q. Who would you love to invite to dinner and what would you serve?
Leonard Cohen – something Greek!
Q. Favourite designer of all time – past or present?
Hard to choose! Maybe Martin Margiela.
Q. Any words you try to live by?
Don’t be afraid
Never give up
There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.