Home' The Wellingtonian : October 20th 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, OCTOBER 20, 2011
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Designing for the environment
talks to Starfish clothing
store owner Laurie Foon
about fashion, cycling
and the Truby King
Laurie Foon: ''We [New Zealanders] tend not to want to stand out from the crowd.''
Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
What's your earliest fashion
Walking around the house tell-
ing my mother about the new
looks you could have with a
hoodie. That was after reading a
Fab 208 magazine.
Was your mother into
Mum was such a great shopper,
always beautifully dressed and
her wardrobe always looked
amazing, better than our store
does now. Everything was care-
fully wrapped in tissue.
Did you always want to
work in fashion?
There was no question about it.
I got my first job at Simmy's,
which was iconic in the fashion
industry post-World War II. They
had a factory with seamstresses
out the back and did made-to-
measure clothing. The only place
I've considered working outside of
fashion is Greenpeace.
You're very committed to
Yes. My husband and I cycle to
work and the kids scooter to
school. It makes me really happy
and it keeps me fit. The reality is
that that sort of thing starts in the
home. You can't take those
principles into your work without
being committed to them at home.
How do you produce
I often ask myself how we can
produce clothes and be
The most important thing is
that clothes are made well and
made to last. It's the cheap
throwaway clothes that are doing
the most damage. We look at what
we're making, especially around
dyes we use and the use of natural
fibres. We process our dyes in
New Zealand, so we're aware of
what's going into them.
How difficult is it to get your
clothes made locally?
It's not a problem for us, but it
is something to be aware of. We've
seen seriously big factories close
in New Zealand.
Companies streamline by
having their products produced
off-shore, and I can see why they
do it, but there are good reasons
for keeping production here.
It's important we retain New
Zealand knowledge of how to pro-
duce our goods, food and services.
You designed the Bypass My
Ass anti-bypass T-shirts. Are
you keen to do something
similar for the flyover issue?
I haven't had much to do with
the Basin road plan, but it doesn't
mean I'm not in a position to
become involved. I don't think I
would do another T-shirt, though.
You get a bit gun-shy with those
sorts of things. But we have to
move people around in different
ways and we've got to think about
more than roads.
What about cycling?
Wellington has good potential
for being a great cycling city.
If you're able to cycle to work en
masse, you'll generally be safer.
We need actual lanes for cyc-
ling. I don't know why we don't
have them. If New York is able to
have cycle lanes, why can't we?
Imagine what a fit, gorgeous
people we'd have in this city if
more of us cycled.
What do you like about Wel-
It's amazing that Wellington
shuts down for events. To be able
to walk all the way through town
with no cars is fantastic.
I love that I can cycle into work
in 20 minutes, and if I have a good
northerly on my back it's only 15
minutes home. I love that I can
walk into the bush near my house
and have 360 degree views of Wel-
lington, and look out towards the
Tararuas. I love discovering inter-
esting spots in Wellington.
What the most interesting
spot you've discovered?
The Kissing Seat in the Truby
King Garden, in Melrose. Yes,
there really is such a thing as a
Kissing Seat. Now that would be a
great treasure hunt for Welling-
tonians -- to find the Kissing Seat.
What's New Zealand Fashion
It's an interesting environment.
It's been pivotal for New Zea-
land fashion and for many women
it's a chance to engage with their
favourite label. Fashion Week has
been exceptionally successful, but
it's not my favourite environment.
The industry en masse can be
quite intimidating. It's more
realistic to me to have a woman
come into the store and be genu-
inely delighted by her new clothes.
That's what makes me excited.
It's been said Wellingtonians
wear too much black. Is that
Colour is really prevalent in our
Starfish stores, but it's not pure
bright colour. We have slightly
murkier shades. New Zealanders
do colour, but not neons. We will
wear colours, but will mix them
with monochromatic shades.
Why is that?
We're not screamers at all.
When you're in the US, you're
doing everything possible to stand
out, everything you can, including
wearing incredibly bright clothes.
It's very different in New Zea-
land. We tend not to want to stand
out from the crowd, and it's just
not Wellingtonians. Also, we like
to wear different silhouettes
[shapes], and the reality is it's
really hard work having a lot of
colour on top of that.
What would you like to
I'm inspired by how we can
make clothes attractive, but have
them for tramping, cycling etc.
Starfish embodies Wellington
life and that's quite an active life.
We can walk or cycle to work
and go out for drinks after work,
and we should be able to do all
that in the same clothes.
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