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Hutt's Eco Fashion week opens new potential for designers

Fashionable handbags and totes made using tyre inner tubes. A joke, surely?


Wainuiomata eco designer Zorro Potion enjoys the look that comes across people's faces when she shows them her bags - this reporter included. They are really clever, practical and attractive.


Best of all, Zorro says, no animal gave up its skin or fur so they could be made.


Potion says she has been making clothes for herself from upcycled garments all her life but it wasn't until fellow Wainuiomatian Denise Anglesey put on the inaugural New Zealand Eco Fashion Week in 2013 that she "came out of the closet" to show her fashion in a public setting.


She says it was a "resounding success" and without her chasing it, all sorts of opportunities have come her way.


Two of her women's fashion garments were shown in the Eco part of London Fashion Week and among a series of photoshoots for which she was asked to create styles was a session with Miss Universe New Zealand.


Wainuiomata upcycled fashion designer Zorro Potion, models one of her Ghost Train label dresses, and a handbag she made using a tyre inner tube.  She is in the Eco Fashion Week pop-up shop in Petone.


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For Saturday's third annual Eco Fashion Week runway show, current Miss Universe NZ model Rachel Milnes will be modelling an outfit from Potion's 'Ghost Train' label - a reference to her love of skull motifs.


Potion is also dressing runway event MC, actress Geraldine Brophy and will be creating some of the costumes for Brophy's upcoming children's play at The Little Theatre, Snow Bright.


Potion, who has 34 bee hives on her Wainuiomata lifestyle block, hates waste and says there is too much of it in the rag trade. Imported garments, including from factories where working conditions are from from ideal, are so cheap that too many of us throw them out and buy something new on a whim, instead of mending or re-purposing them.


It's a lament another eco designer "from the Nui", Lisa Winter, agrees with.


Winter wasn't even a sewer until a back injury forced her to slow




"I wanted something good to come out of it, and something for my two daughters," she says.


A friend showed her some stitches on a sewing machine "and I got the bug".


It was both the price of new fabric, and "doubts about where it came from, and what had been sprayed on it" that encouraged Winter to look at old suits, pinafores and men's jackets as a source of material for making children's fashion. Extra large women's vests provided more than enough fabric for a kid's dress.


As well as the environmentally-conscious angle, what she creates under her LilyRose label are one-offs or very short runs. "You're not going to get five children in the same class wearing the same thing."


A layered girl's dress made from a thermal drape sample was one of Winter's outfits that won applause when she debuted at last year's Eco Fashion Week.


This year army blankets are her source material.


"I had been touched by all the World War One commemorations and wanted to instill in my daughters how important the Anzacs were."


Little coats, jackets and dresses she has made from the sturdy grey material are an echo of our history, and Winter has emphasised that by retaining the Wellington Wool Co labels, and one blanket even still had the soldier's surname stitched into the cloth. Brass buttons and crocheted red woollen poppies complete the look, and 30 per cent of of sales proceeds will be going to the Lower Hutt Memorial RSA.


More than 35 fashion designers from New Zealand and abroad are set to showcase their collections on the runway in the main event on June 13. Among those on the runway modelling Winter's outfits will be her daughters, Charlotte, 6, and Hayley, 7.




■ Eco Pop Up store at 127 Jackson St, until June 12.


■ Tuesday June 9 - Official opening of the third annual NZ Eco Fashion Week at Sacred Heart College Performing Arts Centre.


■ Wednesday, June 10 - True Cost, director Andrew Morgan's movie about the price the world is paying for fashion, including the impact on sweat shop workers in developing nations. 8pm, The Light House Cinema, Petone.


■ Thursday June 11 - An evening with Miranda Brown, director of Conscious Cloth, Dowse Art Museum, 7pm.


■ Friday, June 12 - Get the Sante Runway Make up Look, a free event with registration.


■ Saturday June 13, Kila's Style Wardrobe swap and style. Find out how to create a unique look from good quality recycled fashion. Bring along your unwanted, good quality clothing to swap for new items.


■ Saturday June 13, the Eco Fashion Designer Runway. A showcase of organic, ethical, up- cycled and re-cycled fashion.

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