NZ Fashion Design: Kim’s Chance to Shine

NZ Fashion Design: Kim’s Chance to Shine

Kim Chance’s tertiary journey over the last four-and-a-half years (and counting) assigns new meaning to the term ‘two degrees of separation’. The 22-year-old discovered her love for fashion at a young age but chose to pursue a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) here at Wintec, after becoming a mother at 17. Kim began to rekindle her ever-burning ambition shortly before graduating, and when the School of Media Arts announced its pilot fashion degree pathway for 2016, she was sold. Rarely one to pass up an opportunity, a recent side project of Kim’s involved designing an aquatic-themed dress for friend and Miss World New Zealand contestant, Katie Atkinson.

In our interview, Kim mused over falling in love with sewing and fashion at the age of 13, her style and inspiration as a designer, the process of producing a pageant-worthy dress, and where she sees herself fitting into the fashion industry.

Did you have a knowledge of fashion and how to sew before you started your degree?

The love for sewing and the love for fashion started when I was back in England at my high school. Before that I hated it, I thought it was stupid – I could never thread up the sewing machine, and it just put me off the whole idea of fabric – but then I got a detention and had to stay behind, and the teacher actually took the time to teach me how to sew and how to thread up the machine. That was it, I fell in love with it from there. When we moved to New Zealand I did fabric textiles at Fairfield College, and the teacher they had there was amazing – she was very knowledgeable.

Five things you’ve learned since becoming a fashion design student:

1. How to pattern things!

2. The importance of making sure your notches line up, which won’t make any sense to you, but any fashion person reading will understand the importance of notches!

3. I do take on way too much, and I need to slow down. I think I’m just very worried that all these opportunities are coming my way, and if I don’t take them, I’m not going to get anywhere, because fashion’s such a large world.

4. There are lots of doors in fashion. I just need to find what’s right for me, and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your own collection out there.

5. I want to do journalism. It’s a realistic pathway that I think I can fulfil.

When it comes to designing garments, do you have a certain style you tend to work with? How would you describe your style as a fashion designer?

As a designer, my style would be Oriental Elegance, as I call it. My best friend’s Chinese and I just love the colours and the patterns and the craziness of Chinese fashion, so a lot of my work does have a sort of oriental flare to it, whether it’s through the fabric I’ve chosen or possibly collars and cuffs and structure – that sort of thing. When it comes to designing, at the moment especially, it’s ‘what does the assignment want me to do?’ but I can definitely see myself in what I’ve ended up producing.

Tell me about the process of creating the Miss World NZ dress, from initial concept to final product – how long did it take you to make?

My friend Katie Atkinson was a Miss World NZ finalist, and she was looking for someone to make this dress for the national costume sector of the show, and it was paid work. She needed it done by the 10th of May – I had three weeks to do it in – so it was pretty nuts. I had a couple of days where I was just making the patterns for it, and then I had probably about a week and a half to actually make it and do all the finishing touches and stuff to it.

She showed me a concept of what she wanted, and it was a national costume, so it had a very big element of being themed to New Zealand. The thing that Katie wanted to focus on was New Zealand’s pure waters, and the clarity of New Zealand’s ocean. Her dress was blue and reflected paua and her skirt was the waves. She found this gorgeous sequinned fabric that was a nightmare to work with, but was beautiful and looked amazing on the stage with all the lights on it.

Did you find there was anything you had to teach yourself in the process?

I had to teach myself the whole thing (laughs). I’ve never done anything that’s so extravagant and time-consuming, and in the time limit that I had. I do have decent sewing skills behind me, but you can’t sew something well unless you have a really good pattern, and the pattern-making is what I’ve learned from Wintec, through Sally – she is amazing. Before you can actually start sewing a garment you need to have decent patterns and you need to practice it, so you make it out of a fake fabric and then look at it, fit it, and then you make it out of your real thing. It’s a lot of trial and error to get the right fit and to get the right look you’re after, and that I learned through Wintec.

I’ve never done anything that’s so extravagant and time-consuming, and in the time limit I had. It’s a lot of trial and error to get the right fit and to get the right look you’re after – that I learned through Wintec.


Tell me about the night – what was it like seeing your creation modelled on stage?

It was so cool! It was super cool. I’d had the dress to make and then I was behind with some other class work and then it was my daughter’s birthday and she’d just started school – it’s just been a crazy two months really. It was a night out in Auckland basically at SkyCity Convention Centre, and I thought ‘I’ve got to go, it’s my first every dress!’. I could see all the flaws in it before giving it to her, as you do, but when I saw it on stage on her and with the lights on it and the music and the atmosphere – oh, it was just fantastic. Yeah, I think it really did do what she wanted it to and she pulled it off well.

I could see all the flaws in it before giving it to her, as you do, but when I saw it on stage on her with the lights on it and the music and the atmosphere – oh, it was fantastic.

Do you hope to take on more opportunities like this as a student?

I would definitely like to take on more opportunities like this, because not only did I get paid for it, which was brilliant, but I honestly learned so much from it, and I had a lot of support to do it as well. I was doing it here at Wintec, making it, using the machines, the cutting tables, and even my teacher Sally was more than happy to give me a hand if I needed it. She could see the opportunity I had there.

What are your career plans once you get your degree?

Fashion is such a big world! I don’t know, I mean, you could have the dream of wanting to do the runway thing or be a designer and all the rest of it, but that’s not really realistic and I’ve got my daughter. I think I’m going down the path of journalism – fashion journalism – for a magazine, or doing a blog – something along those lines. We’ll just see what happens. When I started I really had no idea, all I knew was that I wanted to do fashion, and I just wanted to see where it would take me basically. I find that when I’m writing about fashion, it just comes and I just really do enjoy it. It’s two things that I enjoy doing, and putting them together just makes sense.

I find that when I’m writing about fashion, it just comes and I just really do enjoy it. It’s two things that I enjoy doing, and putting them together just makes sense.

Kim working on the pattern cutting tables in the Media Arts Fashion studio.

Thanks to Kim for taking the time to meet with us and for offering us such a great insight into student life at Media Arts Wintec. You can find Kim’s blog here.

Learn more about fashion, illustration strategies and pattern design in our Bachelor of Media Arts Fashion pathway here.

 

 

 

Public Relations & Perseverance with Caitlynn Wendt

Public Relations & Perseverance with Caitlynn Wendt

Despite falling short of success in secondary school, Caitlynn Wendt is close to completing a Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) degree – and she has no intention of stopping there. A published poet and PR major, Caitlynn plans to take on a post-graduate honours programme in 2018, marking her fifth consecutive year as a Wintec student. When asked how she maintains such a highly motivated mindset in adulthood, the hard-working wordsmith credits one key factor: timing. 

After struggling with personal trials in high school, Caitlynn’s enrollment at Wintec stemmed from newfound drive, which has continued to thrive over time. She recently gave us an insight into her eye-opening Media Arts journey, which has seen her partake in the groundbreaking Design Hub pilot and have her work professionally published.  

What’s inspired you to pursue a degree in communication? Did you know you’d go down this path before starting your Introduction to Study course? 

I’ve always had a strong passion for writing. Initially, I wanted to pursue journalism as a career, but I soon found that public relations and advertising attracted me more. I think either way you go in communications, there’s plenty of writing. So I got what I wished for – a future in writing.

Have you been set on pursuing PR since beginning the BMA or did you decide part-way through? What attracts you to PR as a career? 

When I first started at Wintec I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. It wasn’t until the second year of my degree that I realised my passion was in PR and advertising. PR and advertising attracted me because of its creativity and diversity. In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.

In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.  

You did not enjoy secondary school but you have gone from strength to strength in your tertiary education. Do you think this has made you a lot more determined to succeed academically and professionally now, as an adult?

When I was in high school, I was dealing with a lot of things. It was a difficult stage in my life and I think the timing just wasn’t right. When I decided to enrol at Wintec, I had realised that I could achieve my dreams. I was ready to chase them and determined to succeed. This time, the timing was right.

You became a published poet late last year when your piece ‘False Love’ featured in Issue 1 of Wintec honours project Emergent – do you believe studying for a communication degree has played a significant part in influencing your creativity and self-expression as a writer, or has this always come naturally to you? Has poetry long been a passion of yours?

Absolutely, I’ve always had a passion for writing and I’ve always practised that passion, but never pursued it until my degree. Through my degree, I’ve had opportunities to strengthen and share my writing on an academic and professional level. My creativity and writing have improved immensely and Wintec gave me an opportunity to share my work. This has encouraged my writing and made me realise that it’s worth sharing.

Combining your Introduction to Study course, the Certificate in Media Arts, and soon a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, you’ve essentially been studying at Wintec for four years – how have you maintained your drive and motivation? 

I always thought I wasn’t good enough because I’ve had people tell me that I would never be successful. Ever since I realise that wasn’t true, I’ve lived with the idea of failure not being an option. Every time things got difficult, personally and academically, I reminded myself that failure wasn’t an option. I’ve made it this far because I realised this was a journey I had to do on my own. I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.

I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one. 


Tell me about your experience being a part of the pilot Wintec Design Hub. What did your individual role entail?

The Wintec Design Hub was an amazing experience, both academically and personally. I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.

I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself. 


As a Media Arts student, I helped my team with research and interviews, and understanding audiences when creating personas. There were a lot of creative thinking exercised in the Design Hub, and I think my experience in media arts suited those activities.  The Design Hub began with the goal of becoming part of the Global Network in the long run – it just happened a lot sooner than expected. I’m absolutely thrilled the Design Hub has now received an invitation to become New Zealand’s first Design Factory. The staff and students worked so hard and deserve this. Being accepted into the Global Network opens so many doors to the future for Wintec. It has been a truly rewarding experience to be a part of, and I encourage students from across Wintec to enrol.

With just one semester to go until you’re officially qualified, do you feel you’re almost ready to leave the student nest? Does your excitement outweigh your nerves at this point?

I still feel like I have a lot more to learn, even after four years, and I strongly believe in continually expanding my knowledge. I think there’s still one chapter left in my Wintec journey, and I plan to continue this chapter through to Media Arts Honours.  I am extremely excited to begin my communications career. I wouldn’t say that I’m nervous. I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.

I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.


What’s been the best or most rewarding aspect of life as a Media Arts student? 

I like the hands-on, practical approach. In Media Arts, you get a real experience that prepares you for the professional world. One of the best things about Wintec is knowing we’re fully supported all the way, and that makes anything possible. The most rewarding thing about media arts is that they celebrate everything – no work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.

No work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of. 

Thinking long-term, where do you see (or want to see) your degree taking you in the industry? 

I enjoy getting to know people as much as I enjoy writing, and I enjoy being a part of a team. Ideally, I’d like to work within a project team or in a leadership role within the community. I am also quite interested in not-for-profit organisations and the government. My end goal is to be a part of a change and ideally lead that change. I’m open-minded and anything is possible.

Do you have a piece of advice to offer our prospective BMA Communication students? 

Don’t give up – ever. The first stage of the degree can feel like it’s too much, but it’s completely worth it. The reward always outweighs the sacrifice. Keep pressing on, you’re far greater than you ever thought.

Thank you Caitlynn, for sharing your Media Arts journey with us. Find more information about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) here. 

Travelling in Style: Media Arts Team Take Thailand

Travelling in Style: Media Arts Team Take Thailand

For nine Media Arts students, life in the tertiary lane has left a desirable lasting impression – one that can be carried close through the remainder of their studies and beyond.  Aspiring creative Emma Ayson visited Thailand from July 2-10, alongside eight fellow course-mates and two tutors, as part of the Bachelor of Media Arts Fashion Design pilot pathway. Wintec’s partnership with the Thailand Institute of Fashion Research (UTK) opened the door to their study tour, which showed them how the Eastern fashion industry operates and introduced them to a scale of factories and practices foreign to New Zealand soil.

Emma recently spoke with us about what the trip entailed, the ways in which it’s changed her perception of the fashion industry, and how it’s helped to shape her desired career pathway.

How was the daily itinerary organised? Did you all have to stick to a busy schedule from day one, or was it quite relaxed?

Our days were pretty jam-packed – we would meet in the lobby most mornings around 8am, jump on the bus, and wouldn’t return until after 6pm. For the first couple of days we had a schedule to stick to because we were visiting factories, but toward the end of the trip, it was more relaxed.

Were you based in Bangkok for the majority of the trip? What other destinations did you visit in Thailand? Which was your personal favourite and why?

For the majority of the trip we were based in Bangkok, but for the more touristy side of things, we travelled a little out of the city. On one of our last days, after we had visited all the factories, we went to Ayutthaya where we rode elephants and visited the Wan Mahathat, which is an ancient Buddhist temple. Personally, I just loved the whole thing – being immersed in the culture.

I just loved the whole thing – being immersed in the culture.  


Tell me about the factories and other fashion-related destinations you visited throughout the trip – what stood out to you most and why?

We visited factories that specialised in lingerie, men’s shirts and leather, shirts, woven textiles, and traditional-style silk. We also went to a fabric market, garment manufacturers sourcing expo, the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACICT), and an indigo dying workshop and trend forecasting class at UTK.

One of my favourite parts would have to be the Thai textile visit, as we got to see how the fabric was made from beginning to end, from raw cotton to woven fabric. It was such an amazing opportunity to see this as we don’t have anything like it in New Zealand.

Did your initial expectations of the trip differ a lot from the actual experience you got? If so, how?

A major thing that stood out to me would be the hospitality from UTK. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about travelling to a foreign country, but we had students from UTK with us everywhere we went. They made sure we were safe, helped us with anything we needed, and we just great company. I don’t think our Thailand trip would have been as great an experience if it wasn’t for them – and from it we have gained awesome friendships. We had students from UTK with us everywhere we went. They made sure we were safe, helped us with anything we needed, and we just great company. I don’t think our Thailand trip would have been as great an experience if it wasn’t for them – and from it we have gained awesome friendships.

What has the trip taught you about the fashion industry? Has it changed the way you perceive it, and how you intend to use your degree career-wise?

I’ve learned that the fashion industry is a lot bigger than I thought. The international side of it has a very big outcome on the fashion world, and I have probably only seen a small part of it. I know I have a lot more to see and learn. In terms of my future career, I have gained knowledge about the industry that I can use for my benefit, to help grow my career. I’ve learned that the fashion industry is a lot bigger than I thought. The international side of it has a very big outcome on the fashion world, and I have probably only seen a small part of it. I know I have a lot more to see and learn.

What was it like coming from a Western society, with predominantly westernised fashion norms, and entering an eastern one? What were the similarities and differences that stood out to you?

I have a newfound love for Eastern fashion. They are not afraid to play around and manipulate design to create interesting shapes and silhouettes. Many Thai women take a lot of pride in their appearance.

A slight difference I noticed was, in the bathrooms, the women weren’t ashamed of checking themselves out and spending time in front of the mirror to maintain their appearance. In New Zealand, women don’t tend to do the type of appearance maintenance I saw in Thailand, in public view.

Did you know what to expect in terms of Thailand’s manufacturing conditions/practices and general fashion culture? Did anything shock or surprise you?

We were told the factories we would be visiting were nicely run, and they were. From what I could see, the staff were well looked after and the work spaces were clean and tidy. Something that I was surprised about was that WACOAL (the lingerie company) are very environmentally friendly.

Do you feel your own perception of the fashion world has been diversified by this experience? How so?

The trip has definitely opened my mind to the sheer scale of opportunities that come with working internationally.

What pathway in the fashion industry do you intend to take? Do you see yourself working nationally or internationally in the future? Has the trip influenced this?

Eventually, I would like to have and run my own fashion label. I can see myself working with international businesses – this trip has helped me see that there are more design opportunities overseas, as they have the tools, equipment and scale that we simply don’t have in New Zealand.

 

What’s the main thing you’ve learned from this experience, in relation to your studies?

I’ve learned that there are a lot more opportunities out there than I once thought.

Emma would like to give a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in making the trip possible, and we would like to thank Emma for sharing her experience with us.

Head to our website to find out more about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts, Fashion Design.

 

Tonga Robertson – Student Profile

Tonga Robertson – Student Profile

Soon-to-be interior design graduate and mother-of-three Tonga Robertson leads a busy life, but she knows exactly what she wants to achieve, and believes her family plays a big part in motivating her to strive for success.

I caught up with Tonga in her home to chat about what’s driven her to pursue a career in the Media Arts industry, and the exciting projects she’s been working on as an intern. Tonga shares a few pearls of wisdom about keeping both eyes on the prize, as a student and mother with a dream to collaborate and create.

What inspired you to pursue a career in interior design?

I wanted to do something creative, but I’m also a real people person – I love working with people. A few years back I initially thought I’d get into something like midwifery or nursing, but I kind of knew I always wanted to do something creative on the side. Interior design has that good combination of working with people – clients, tradies, and others in the industry – as well as having that creative outlet. I wanted to do something creative, but I’m also a real people person – I love working with people

For those who know little about the industry, what exactly does interior design involve?

Traditionally, a lot of people thought that interior designers would just go in and make someone’s house really pretty – which makes me cringe because we do way more than that!

An interior designer will work alongside say a client or a builder, or maybe an architect or engineer, and an architect will do a drawing for a new house, for instance. As an interior designer, I will design the interior space of it all – what the kitchen will look like, what sort of benches will go in the kitchen, what the cupboards will look like – I will also design the flooring, the furniture and where things are placed inside the house. You can also get into other aspects of styling, joinery, textile and commercial design. It’s such a varied job, and that makes it really fun, because you can find something that might be your niche and you can do that and make money. I think that’s why I love interior design so much; it’s such a varied field. It’s an awesome career.

I think that’s why I love interior design so much – it’s such a varied field.


When you graduate and enter the industry do you see yourself working for a company or on your own as a freelancer?

Once I finish studying full-time, for me the dream is to be my own boss and start up my own interior design company. In saying that, I still feel like I’ve got so much more to learn – so my ideal outcome once I’ve finished studying is to work for somebody part-time, and still be able to build up my own design business on the side. I’m getting so many opportunities at the moment that it’s really promising.

 

Can you tell me about the projects you’re currently interning for?

At the moment, I’m working for a local builder here in Hamilton, and his business has exploded. The current job I’m working for with him is a new build out in Greenhill. The house is about 300 sq. m, it’s a relatively big house. I’m designing this cabin-log house inspired home, and the client has some really interesting quirks. He has a statue he’s made of his deceased wife, which he’s asked me to design a stand for,

and it’s located in a special area in the house. That’s really cool, you don’t often get to build a shrine for somebody.

I’m working on another project for a client in Whatawhata. They’ve got a garage that was converted into a flat and they’re wanting to turn it into a B&B. It’s a full interior fit-out – new kitchen, new bathroom, new flooring and walls – and then for the main house for the same client, we’re looking at putting in a new kitchen, new bathroom, new floors and slightly changing the floor-plan so we can put in doors that open up to a deck.

Also, the builder I’m working with has a container house project, which is really cool because I’m into sustainable living. I also love the idea of living in a small space because it really challenges you to live with just what you need, and it helps you get rid of the excess that we can often consume in this time. So, I’m working on a container house project where I guess the challenge is trying to fit what you need into such a small, narrow space. That’s really fun, I’m really loving that at the moment.

 

What has it been like studying full-time with a young family?

Studying full-time with a young family is a lot of work. I’m really grateful that I’ve got an amazing husband who’s very supportive. Often on crazy end of the semester, I’d pick up the kids, drop them off, my husband would feed them and bathe them and I’d be going straight back to school to keep working on assignments. The great thing is that I know what I want to do and I haven’t got time to muck around. I’ve got a family that relies on me, so it ends up becoming my motivation, and it gives me the perseverance to get it done.

If you could give a piece of advice to someone who’s in a similar position to yours, with a young family and a creative ambition, what would that be?

I think it’s essential to understand what it is that you want because that gives you so much more motivation and conviction to go out and get it. When you’re in-between it’s tough to focus on something and get it done, especially when pressure and deadlines come at you. I think you should find something that you’re passionate about, find something that you’re gonna love, and do it. There’s always going to be sacrifices, but just understand that the dream – if it is a dream – is worth chasing.

I think it’s vital to understand what it is that you want because that gives you so much more motivation and conviction to go out and get it.


The studying time is only a short season, and there is an end to it. The end opens up a wide range of possibilities. To me, that’s the dream – finishing this course and looking at my options. Keeping that dream in your mind while you’re going through the assignments, the deadlines, the expectations, and the pressure – keep reminding yourself of that dream, and that will hopefully push you toward the finish line.

A big thank you to Tonga, for sharing her time and thoughts. Find more information about Wintec’s Diploma in Interior Design here.