An Instagram account documenting a special part of NZ fashion history
A lifelong interest in clothes that differ from the prevailing fashion led Cathy Dunn to document the less visible aspects of New Zealand clothing design.
As a former professional archivist, Cathy Dunn knows the value of documenting and preserving aspects of cultural history. She is especially so in the fashion field.
Dunn worked at the MTG (Hawke’s Bay Regional Museum) for 5 years and that experience really sparked her interest in the history of fashion growing up in our hometown.
Currently, through her Instagram account @nzfashionlabelarchive, she has amassed a readily available archive of New Zealand vintage fashion labels and tags, an often unseen or underappreciated aspect of New Zealand clothing design. doing.
Dunn found her medium of choice while searching for gems to sell on her Instagram shop @jubilevintageshop and her partner The Department of Curiosities in Napier.
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This page is a fun follow-up for fashion buffs and typography geeks alike, filled with rich and original examples of retro serif fonts that convey today’s nostalgic designs.
That and other local accounts like @vintage.nz.fashionlabels join other internationally focused social accounts sharing the joy of nostalgic clothing label typography like @labeltime.
Curious to learn more, I asked Dunn to share what he learned during the archiving process.
Where did your fascination with vintage labels come from?
I’ve always been drawn to timeless clothing. rice field.
Growing up in the punk era, my schoolmates and I would scour out old petticoats and miniskirts to wear with customized t-shirts and ripped fishnets.
I wanted to make my own clothes, but my mother didn’t sew. So I applied to Wellington Polytechnic and completed a two year fashion course (with Kate Sylvester and Robin Matheson). We studied fashion history and were drawn to the shapes, fabrics and labels from the 50’s and her 60’s.
I was an early TradeMe user, buying, selling and amassing a small collection of vintage pieces. I always asked for a photo or description of the label so I could verify the authenticity.
What appeals to you about these vintage labels? How are they different from modern versions?
They come from a time when things were made here in New Zealand, well made and built to last. Also, fonts!
Have you noticed the surge in designs and styles unique to local brands?
It’s not like a wool blanket label. I also have a collection of them, featuring tiki and moco and place names such as Onehunga and Mosgiel where factories were located.
Until the late 1960s, clothing brands referenced design elements from French haute couture and British tailoring to reflect the aspirations of wealthy customers.
The label became more modern after Mary Quant caused a shudder in the youth, but still generally followed what was popular abroad.
Tell us about your favorite label discovery.
early pepper tree.
Fidgits Blouse – Relatively rare now.
I like R&K Originals “For girls who know clothes”.
A friend has a Colin Cole garment with a hand-stitched label that I love.
You won a TradeMe auction for a coat hanger with the Babs Radon label.
From your research, can you identify when clothing labels stopped being weird? Why do you think this is?
After the import permits for garments were removed and tariffs were lowered, New Zealand-based garment factories could no longer compete with cheap garment imports, mostly from China, and most closed by the early 2000s. This is when labels became more popular to reduce costs.
The nice thing about modern labeling is that it provides information about the fabric content and care instructions.
In your expert eyes, which local designers at the time had consistently good labels?
Thornton Hall, Hulabaloo, Fluky’s, Arrow, Lady Arrow, Miss Deb.
Which modern brands do you think have interesting or nice labels?
No, I love Sisters.
Are there aspects of contemporary fashion that people will archive in the next few years?
Te Papa has already added Nope clothing to its social history collection. I think the emphasis will be on archiving the social aspects of clothes rather than design.
It is very interesting how different subcultures appropriately apply elements of fashion. Also, designers and manufacturers that reuse fabrics (such as Good Daisy and Dreamcult Clothing) may be archived as examples of their response to current environmental concerns.