29 Sep 2009

Hastings fashion label looks to exports for growth

8:08 am on 29 September 2009

Hastings fashion label Salasai is off to the Paris Fashion Week.

Designer Kirsa Whitcher is taking garments that speak of luxury for those without the bank balance of an heiress or a sugar daddy.

She unveiled the new collection at the recent New Zealand Fashion Week.

It was the second showing for the designer of Pacific Island and Maori heritage who numbers pop singer Rihanna among her customers.

Radio New Zealand's Pacific issues correspondent reports Salasai has a growing reputation for stroppy but wearable streetwear.

Ms Whitcher says her business growth will be in markets like Australia or France where the population is bigger and wealthier, and interest levels are high.

She says catwalk shows are part of the marketing, but nothing beats a celebrity who actually pays for clothes.

Although she won't reveal figures, Ms Whitcher says business is challenging given global economic pressure and people keeping their wallets closed.

Statistics New Zealand says apparel exports were worth $305 million last year, down $16 million on 2007.

Fashion blogger Isaac Hindin says Salasai's clothing is for women who want to make a powerful statement and it's no suprise Rihanna bought something.

Salasai's manufacturing is done in Auckland.