Project Fashion Fabric Header
Designer prepares for fashion show

What We’re All About

Project Fashion Wellington is an exciting initiative which provides a platform for budding Wellington designers to build their own fashion label. We provide our emerging talent with support, exposure, direction and contacts.
Chosen participants will have exclusive access to a purpose built fully equipped studio, they will assemble a capsule collection to dress six models for a high value and well-publicised show.
There is a high expectation that designers will complete a comprehensive, fluid collection which is commercially viable. Mentorship and guidance will be provided to supplement this fantastic work environment. Previous participants have seen great success both here and abroad, and this year is expected to be even bigger and better.
Entries open up on May 22nd and close on June 30th a shortlist will be announced and on July 5th those designers will go before the panel. Finalists will be picked by our Director Kate Diana Spencer, Sue Bowerman, and mentors, Bex Brent, Paul Blomfield, Jade Weaver, Chris Hales, and Bridget Scanlan.
In mid October the collections are presented to the public with a Catwalk show at the Public Trust Building.
This event promotes Wellington made fashion, and assists designers with a comprehensive foundation to enter the industry at a professional level.
Portfolios are to be sent to
Project Fashion Wellington will accept mixed-media submissions. It is not necessary that applicants be qualified or commercially experienced, but preference will be shown for those entrants that display a consuming desire for a career in the fashion industry. The labels that succeed will display a clear theme with high quality finishing.
Please note that this is not a wearable art competition – construction and pattern-making skills are expected for garments – some exceptions may be made for expert drapery, however repurposing garments will not be permitted. Designers will be expected to arrive at the shortlist meeting with their capsule collections drawn up and supported by moodboards.
If you feel you have what it takes, contact us and let’s start planning the next step in your fashion career!

Who Is Project Fashion?

Meet the Team
Kate is the Director of Project Fashion Wellington and the driving force behind the program. Designers will receive the full benefit of her strong market awareness and knowledge of the demands and constraints facing industry participants gleaned from nearly 20 years working as a screen printer and garment designer. Kate will provide unique insights into the design environment and how it shapes the people within it. Ms. Spencer is also the Director of The PFW Atelier, a shared work space in Wellington specifically catering to garment construction, workshops, and creative crafts. An entrepreneur and ideas woman who has generated the concept of Project Fashion Wellington from the ground up, Kate has a keen business sense and is also developing her own bedwear collection, Moonlight Kingdom. Known for her love of Balmain’s New French Style and occasional foul mouth, she will be taking PFW to a new level in 2019 with the help of her team and mentors.

As a lifelong Wellington Fashion Icon, Ms. Bowerman’s development and support of young designers is unparalleled in this city. In the 1980’s Sue founded Bowerman School of Design to foster creative talent by showing students the practical skills they needed to succeed in fashion, graphic design and textiles. Her students have gone on to dress Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton and enjoyed widespread success both nationally and internationally. At the time the international Versace fashion exhibition was displayed at Te Papa Museum, the school was chosen as the living Versace atelier. Sue got caught trying on the iconic safety-pin dress famously worn by Liz Hurley in 1994, she admits she couldn’t get it past her thighs!
2019 Mentors

Project Fashion is proud to be supported by some of Wellington’s most experienced fashion people.

Bex Brent

Bex Brent is owner/director of Wellington’s Iconic hair salon Willis York. She has championed young fashion designers in Wellington for the past 10yrs, hosting fashion shows at Willis York, sponsoring the Massey and working on editorial shoots. She is a L’Oreal Professional ambassador which has given her international backstage fashion experience. She is committed to supporting the industry and mentors the next generation hair artists with her futurist fashion talks.

Paul Blomfield

A well known PR practitioner with a background in fashion and big consumer events. Paul cut his teeth in fashion as publisher of Apparel Magazine for 15 years and launching Pulp Magazine, before moving into advocacy roles as CEO of the Apparel & Textile Federation and CEO of Fashion Industry New Zealand.  Along the way he had roles in New Zealand fashion promotions at Australian Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and established his own fashion showroom.

Jade Weaver

Jade Weaver cut her teeth on the sales floor of Zambesi in Melbourne, before branching into sales and Visual Merchandising for multi brand designer boutiques. She managed a fashion showroom in London for a quirky Melbourne label, eventually opening the brand’s flagship store in Spittalfields.  Jade now manages visual merchandising for Farmers for the Lower North Island. Jade is excited to inspire and mentor Wellington’s new breed of fashion designers giving them unique insight into the fast fashion, big business arena and the increasingly challenging retail environment.

Bridget Scanlan

Bridget Scanlan is the Designer & Diabetic behind KYT and a Project Fashion alumni. She entered PFW with the goal to make a better version of the battered, nylon medical case that used to carry her diabetes equipment. By collaborating with the international diabetes community, Bridget was able to refine this idea further in to a launch bag – KYT Crossbody – which has gathered several design accolades and been sent to customers around the world. Bridget can help you understand your customer and channel your design talent towards their needs, so that you can build your new brand around them.

Chris Hales

Chris Hales is one of Wellington’s most respected fashion personalities, with two Goodness stores in College St and Petone, and a thriving online business.  Chris moved from IT into fashion to chase the dream 14 years ago -adopting the role of fashion buyer, stylist and creative director/designer for her own Goodness label.
She recently expanded Goodness to include the Gorgeous Cafe to offer a beautiful retail experience in Petone.
Apply Now
Apply Now for Project Fashion Wellington 2020! Applications close June 30th and our shortlist will be announced July 5th. Click here to express your interest.
2019 Designers

Who’s on the runway for 2019?
Maria French
Maria’s goal is to help women find quality clothes that are elegant and empowering. She exists to challenge seasonal trends, and help reframe the fashion narrative – to simply create beautiful pieces you’ll love and that you will continue to wear. Her “Maria French” label is versatile, has a strong focus on fabric selection and an emphasis on quality of craftsmanship. Project Fashion Wellington will challenge Maria to fine tune her audience, and to inject more creativity into her designs for the strong New Zealand woman. Maria studied at New Zealand Fashion Tech and has been developing her skills in various industry jobs since graduating five years ago.
A designer to watch!
Liam Keaney – Micheal Robin
Liam’s brand Michael Robin celebrates the art of tailoring for both men and women. Liam believes that a tailored suit can make you feel like you’re wearing a suit of armour and believes in keeping the silhouette classic. Tailoring is at the heart of every piece and each item prepares you for success in its own way.
Being a part of Project Fashion Wellington, Liam is ready to showcase the tailored silhouette with a modern twist. Now with a better understanding of the New Zealand rag trade, Liam is driven to create a community that honours tailoring and traditions. He holds a Diploma in Fashion Technology from the New Zealand Institute of Fashion.
Yoonjung Suh – Aria
Having been a professional, independent dressmaker in South Korea, Yoon migrated to New Zealand with her husband and fell in love with the city of Wellington.
With skills and craftsmanship rarely seen in New Zealand. Yoon’s label ‘Aria’ sets a very high standard of construction and design. Taking her inspiration from Opera, her designs are original, decorative, and vibrant. Celebrations are a big part of the Aria vision. No occasion is too dolce or forte. Now part of Project Fashion, we’re confident Yoon’s Aria will evolve into a dynamic brand well known throughout the Greater Wellington region and beyond!
Jessy Lewis – Jessy Jane
Jessy Jane represents the bold and daring. She’s the vivacious women looking for hints of nostalgia in her pieces with a colour palette inspired by sherbet fizz.
It’s about making a statement – make your impression count. When you embody Jessy Jane, she’s the one that creates a buzz. Her bright energy, bold charisma and daring spirit.
Project Fashion Wellington is excited to work with Jessy and help to help her create her vision. Jessy believes women want a label that mixes vintage elements while experimenting with fresh modern colours.<br> Jessy has an NZ Fashion Tech with a Diploma in Fashion Design
Follow her on Instagram @jessyjane.label
Maxwell Wilson – Maxwell Loves
Maxwell Loves is a product of today’s hybrid environment. Stripping the design to its functional bones and allowing for the attitude of the embellishments to slap you in the face, Max creates a collection that functions strongly in a millennial era.
This philosophy is taking Maxwell on an unexpected journey. Since starting Project Fashion Wellington, Max has learnt the value of creating and maintaining a sense of community in his design – having a strong relationship with the industry and and your intended client matters. Maxwell studied at Massey University, majoring in Fashion Design, receiving the award for Design Excellency in the Field of Research.
Follow Max on Instagram
2018 Designers

Meet our talented lineup from 2018
Havilah Arendse
Having spent time living abroad in England and South Africa, this designer has brought a real passion for textiles and beading, and an exceptional work ethic to Project Fashion Wellington. Ms Arendse is highly focused, and you may catch her listening to Whitney Houston power ballads while creating her beautifully embellished garments, inspired by 1990’s street style, with a feminine bent. Making clothes since she started designing for her dolls as a child, this designer is the first person in her family to enter the industry, Havilah would love to dress singer Dua Lipa, and is currently in her third year at Massey University studying Fashion.

Matthew Baitson
Matthew Baitson was born in Manchester and raised in Raglan. Leaving this beach-side paradise to chase his fashionable dreams, Mr Baitson moved to Wellington in 2011. Entering NZ Fashion Tech, to hone his skills with a specific aesthetic in mind, Matthew describes his collection as relaxed. Each piece contains variables as to styling, making this collection unique, as the garments are able to be worn in various ways, due to an ingenious strap system sewn into the collection. At 24, this designer is a real powerhouse, whilst following his passion on top of a full time job at Egmont Street Eatery, Matthew also performs drag under the name Just-Beth at the Ivy Bar. 
Mikayla Hammond
Mikayla Hammond attained First Class Honours for her Bachelor of Design at Massey University in 2017 and is an experienced manual and digital patternmaker. Mikayla prioritises sustainable processes when sourcing materials for her garments, and has been inspired to create a conscious Capsule Collection that focuses on craftsmanship. Pushing the boundaries of ready-to-wear fashion and zeroing in on womenswear, Mikayla enjoys New Zealand artists such as Broods to keep it moving in the workroom. Exhibiting some self-dyed garments at this show, Mikayla was the Regional Winner for NZ/Australia and placed Joint Runner-Up in the global finals for the Society of Dyers and Colourists competition in 2017.
Kelsey Dahlberg
Kelsey Dahlberg is well on her way to fulfilling her dream of exploring the world through her creative ideas, by collaborating with other designers to make connections across the globe. Kelsey uses the music of St Vincent and FKA Twigs to spur her on in the workroom and manifests strong pieces that employ colour blocking, and silhouettes that appeal across the gender spectrum. Kelsey credits her Nana’s sense of style and confidence, plus her recent trip to soak up the street style in Japan, as some of the current inspiration for her work. A Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts in Costume Design ensures that Kelsey brought a strong construction and pattern making skill set to the design table.
Dominique Hopson
Dominique is a fan of the work of industry giants Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. Having recently spent time in India studying the craft techniques of local textile makers, Dominique is currently presenting beautiful beaded work and has sold some work under the label ’til death’, which is a fresh twist on bridalwear for the non-conventional wedding. Dominique combines a rock’n’roll aesthetic with high fashion, in addition to working on her own label, she dreams of doing atelier work for Christian Dior and dressing the inimitable Lady Gaga. Dominique has brought training and experience to the workroom, creating tailored pieces across evening and bridalwear.
Dennis Jackson
Dennis Jackson won the Technical Excellence Award at NZ Fashion Technical Institute for his Diploma collection in 2017. Creating exceptional tailoring for men with European styling and impeccable construction, this designer produces garments that imbue the wearer with confidence. With a desire to use only the best fabrics and an eye for quality trims and precise cutting, Dennis devotes his time to making menswear for the discerning man. Spending time travelling in London, Paris and Amsterdam ignited a desire to bring the high end street style he admired to New Zealand. His Capsule Collection has manifested in a crisp aesthetic, that pushes boundaries within a conservative framework.
Discover your Fashion Potential!
Project Fashion is all about finding the designers who can make it commercially in future and giving them guidance and experience to help them achieve their goals.