Q+A with Zambesi’s Liz Findlay

Liz Findlay from Zambesi talking to Thomas's

Liz Findlay by Marissa Findlay

 

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.

 

Spring into new fashion – what to look out for this season

Trends for Spring 2016 at Thomas's

At Thomas’s we like to stay at the forefront of fashion so we can offer you a broad selection of the best designs available, right here in Marlborough. As well as keeping our eye firmly fixed on design trends, we are also committed to supporting beautifully, ethically and sustainably made clothing, created from enduring and high quality fabrics. We want to sell you great clothes that last – so you can feel good while you look good!

Hamish is our fashion buyer and he and Tim frequent the fashion show front rows to keep up to date. We put some questions to Hamish about what to look out for in spring trends this year.

Spring 2016 Trends – Q&A with Hamish:

Q.  What are the main trends we should be looking out for in spring 2016 fashion?

A.  Off the shoulder styles are going to be strong, especial in preppy blue and white fabrics. Anything Victorian – ruffles, puffy sleeves, high-collar necklines and loads of flowers. Also look for lightweight denims and bomber jackets.

Q.  What’s else is happening in denim – are flares still the thing? Anything new?

A.  All our international brands are showing high-waisted straight leg jeans in light coloured denim, think 1990s, look for holes and raw edge hems. There has been a move on from flares, look for cropped bootlegs such as these from Neuw below. There is still dark and black denim as well as the boyfriend fit.

Neuw flared pant from Thomas's

Q.  What’s up in colours for this coming season?

A. Orange is strong, as is khaki, and look for white, prints, dusty pinks and light-coloured denim.

Spring 2016 Trends with Thomas's of Marlborough

Q. Is there a great difference between new ideas in men’s and womenswear?

A.  Fashion is always lead by women’s trends and men’s styling is taken from there, like colour, fabric and styling.

Q. What would be your favourite NZ label in store this spring – for men and women? What great things are Kiwi designers doing?

A. That would have to be Kowtow for women and Huffer for the guys – you can see both in the photos below. Both labels fit our Kiwi lifestyle, Kowtow uses organic cotton which has an amazing feel, and is so comfortable to wear.  We stock Kate Sylvester, Zambesi, Nyne, Workshop and have just opened our Karen Walker and Lonely concept area which is very exciting. We are so proud to stock so many outstanding NZ labels. It is very important to know your customer and keep true to that, it keeps people coming back season after season and that is what makes NZ labels so popular.

Kiwi cool from Kowtow - Sunday Jumpsuit 2Huffer for men from Thomas's

Q.  Which is your favourite international label in store?

A.  Ted Baker, both men’s and women’s. Their attention to detail is incredible, they use the best fabrics and cuts.

Q.  What labels do you recommend for those who want to be at the forefront of new trends?

A.  Karen Walker (see below left), Zambesi or international labels Ksubi or Diesel.

Q.  How about for those of us who are a little bit slower to get on board or who prefer a more classic look?

A.  Caroline Sills, or Obi, both have beautiful knitwear, dresses and pants and of course both are from NZ.

Q.  There’s a real feel of comfort in the new Camilla and Marc spring range, as witnessed in the image above. Is the comfort factor spread across other labels too?

A.  Comfort is the key to all labels – you will see brands do beautiful dresses for evening wear and casual clothing for the weekends.

Q.  And what’s your take on the must-have accessory for the coming months?

A.  Hoop earrings, mules for shoes and a Yu Mei bag.

You heard it here from Hamish first. Check out the new spring range online or come in store to see it for yourself. We have fantastic friendly staff who’re highly skilled at helping choose the perfect clothes for you.

We’ll leave the last word on the topic to the inimitable Vivienne Westwood, who once said “Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

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