The Future of Fashion is Changing

And it’s not all about fast & new!

Local Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay has released a report on the new era of New Zealand fashion, taking a look at Kiwi buyer behaviour, and has revealed some interesting insights and trends.

The report explores how the industry has changed since 2020 and what is top of mind for consumers when it comes to fashion-focused purchases and brand decisions in 2023.

What was discovered was a growing interest in sustainability, diversity and inclusion and a move toward ‘re-commerce’. We spoke with Katrina Konstas, Country Manager ANZ, Afterpay to find out more.

The report states that one in three New Zealanders are buying at least one item of clothing per month, tell us more…

Kiwi’s love fashion. On average, females are buying more items of clothing per month than males. Specifically, 27% of women are purchasing 11-20 items of clothing per year, while only 15% of males are purchasing the same amount. Ages 18-26 represent the largest demographic, with over one quarter of respondents in this age bracket.

What’s the average spend per month on fashion? Has this changed recently with the cost-of-living crisis?

While the cost-of-living crisis has had a huge impact on Kiwis, we know it’s also encouraged savvy spending (and savings) habits. Consumers are being more careful than ever before and purchases, in particular those in the fashion space, are on a need-to-have basis. Payment tools like Buy Now Pay Later are helping Kiwis navigate their budgets better, via split payments that are easier to manage.

The ‘New Era of NZ fashion’ report reflects this sentiment with the majority of Kiwis (almost 90%) prioritising non-fashion purchases, spending less than 15% of their salaries on clothing, with a whopping 52% spending less than 5% of their salaries in this space.

It’s worth noting Afterpay has become an integral part in the lives of over half a million New Zealand consumers and has provided support to tens of thousands of businesses of all sizes across the country, as well as shoppers.

We love that New Zealanders are more interested in sustainable fashion. How do you think the fashion industry can support more purchases in this area?

We’re thrilled to learn sustainability is firmly on Kiwi’s radars. We know there’s been a shift in consumer sentiment and the industry has been responsive to this. While sustainability was once a nice to have, it’s now a ‘have to have’. Brands are consistently rolling out sustainable initiatives such as capsule collections that use biodegradable materials, limited-edition ranges from recycled and upcycled materials as well as community partnerships. It’s so promising to see so many brands become champions for sustainability.

Which brands are the best at sustainability?

The move towards sustainability and making sustainably-minded choices when it comes to fashion is not unique to New Zealand or any particular designer. However, it’s encouraging to see this theme at the forefront of Kiwi designs, with several brands championing the environment, referencing nature and the native fauna.

There’s a uniqueness to this market that can’t go unnoticed. New Zealand’s smaller size has not fostered smaller voices – Kiwi designers are bold, directional and true storytellers with a sustainable focus. Brands like Paris Georgia, Maggie Marilyn, Wynn Hamlyn, Meadowlark, Harris Tapper and Yu Mei all play strongly in this field, to name a few – as do many others.

It’s so hard to resist fast fashion brands when the price is so cheap. How can we shop cheap but be environmentally and sustainably minded?

While there’s no denying that sustainability is top of mind for consumers, there’s no getting around it: slow fashion is often more expensive. Taking cost per wear into consideration is a sustainable approach to curating your wardrobe by understanding the long-term value of purchases. Customers can manage larger upfront price tags by using Afterpay, available for brands such as Maggie Marilyn, Meadowlark, Harris Tapper and Yu Mei, splitting their payments in four interest-free installments over 6 weeks.

Where do you see this trend going in the next 5 years? 10 years?

We have no doubt that the move towards more sustainable and inclusive fashion choices are here to stay. The rise in re-commerce is a true indicator of New Zealand’s sustainable mindset and waste-conscious mentality. While we predict Kiwis will continue to buy pre-loved, vintage, investment or ‘green’ items, we’re also confident these purchases will live alongside other, more affordable off-the-rack garments. Different retail sectors are currently living harmoniously side by side in consumer’s closets and we predict this trend will continue well into the future.

Are there types of clothes or fabrics that customers should seek knowing it’s a better choice than others?”

Jessie Wong, designer and founder for Yu Mei answers.

At Yu Mei, we focus on understanding the provenance of the materials we create with—the hands that make them, the impact they have on the environment and the future footprint they leave all play into our process. 

As a brand, we encourage the use of Regenerative materials, and to us that looks like materials with integrity at the core of their supply chain. We’re primarily known for our use of New Zealand Deer Nappa, which is a material from our land that would otherwise be wasted and can be tanned into a buttery soft leather. More recently, we launched UTILITY by Yu Mei, made from ECONYL Regenerated Nylon, a fiber that is regenerated from ghost fish nets, old carpets rescued from buildings to be demolished and other industrial waste. The climate impact of the fibre is 90% reduced from that of new nylon—for every 10,000 tonnes of ECONYL Fibre produced, 65,100 tonnes of CO2, and 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved. 

 Alongside understanding provenance, we encourage customers to look for materials that are certified with standards that measure and verify environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. In our industry, the Leather Working Group certification is the gold standard to look for.”

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