NZ Fashion Week’s cancellation just the latest blow for under-pressure fashion industry

The cancellation of this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week is just the latest loss for the beleaguered fashion industry.

The event’s owner Feroz Ali announced on Thursday that the event would transition to a biennial, rather than annual, event.

It would next be held in the later months of 2025.

“The reality is that consumer confidence is at an all-time low and the fashion retail industry has been particularly affected by the reduced consumer spending,” Ali said.

“Although we had a strong cohort of committed designers, we didn’t have enough for a robust weeklong schedule to make the event viable this year.”

News that the 2024 event was being canned came just weeks after designer Kate Sylvester announced she would be closing her business.

In September 2023, Carly Harris Design – which had been running since 1998 – went into liquidation. She told the New Zealand Herald that Covid-19 lockdowns and rent rises had taken their toll on the business.

A handful of smaller New Zealand designers, including Maaike, Mina and Hej Hej, had also closed their doors in recent months.

Ali told Checkpoint that many designers were going into “survival mode”.

“A lot of people are hunkering down and are really concerned about the viability of their own businesses, their retail store, and also I think they’re trying to ride this immense wave of economic pressure, retail pressure, but also the flow-on of foreign business coming into New Zealand.”

He hoped Aotearoa would not lose any more of its iconic brands.

However, “if things don’t turn around and we don’t support our New Zealand and local designers, I do anticipate that perhaps a few of them will find it challenging in the months coming ahead”.

Retail NZ chief executive Carolyn Young previously said it was a “really, really difficult time” for retail – particularly for luxury or designer brands.

“Whether you’re priced at the bottom end or the higher end, you can still be successful, but it is much more difficult [at the high end] and converting customer interest into sales is taking a lot longer.”

Designers like Sylvester would likely not be the last to close their doors this year, Young said.

“I’m certainly concerned that there will be some closures of stores, I think there will be further closures before we get out the other side of this economic downturn.”

Kate Sylvester revisits a  Beecroft-esque presentation during NZFW 2015

Meanwhile, the most recent figures from Stats NZ showed electronic card transactions in March were down 0.7 percent ($45 million) compared to February’s figures.

Apparel sales in particular took a big hit, with spending down 2.2 percent, or $7.5 million.

In the wider retail sector, Trade Aid is shuttering its 24 shops nationwide due to the cost-of-living crisis, and Target has closed its flagship store on Auckland’s Dominion Road after 31 years.

In February, The Warehouse Group sold its underperforming sports brand Torpedo7 for $1.

The group had lost nearly $24 million in the six months prior, with sales down 5 percent across its stores.

Silvermoon has also gone into liquidation and announced earlier this year it was closing its 10 jewellery stores.

“This decision comes as the culmination of an arduous battle against the challenges that have beset not only our industry but the retail sector as a whole,” the company said, in a message to customers on its website.

According to a recent Retail NZ survey, one third of retail businesses thought they might have to close this year.

About two thirds did not meet their sales targets in the first quarter.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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