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Leading Kiwi fashion entrepreneurs selected for Thailand trip

Five of New Zealand’s top young fashion entrepreneurs are heading to Thailand next month to delve into the thriving Thai fashion scene and build connections with their local counterparts.

Jessie Wong, Founder and CEO of Wellington leather fashion manufacturers Yu Mei, talks about the upcoming trip and what she hopes to get from it

The five, who will travel as part of Asia New Zealand Foundation’s fashion-focussed trip, includes Yu Mei founder and CEO Jessie Wong, Pania Greenaway Ltd founder and creative designer Pania Tucker, Little Yellow Bird founder and CEO Samantha Jones, Offcut founder Adrien Taylor, and Jason Lingard, founder and director of the fashion label of the same name.

“Congratulations to the five young Kiwi fashion designers and entrepreneurs who have been selected to be part of this trip,” says Adam McConnochie, programme manager for leadership and entrepreneurship of the Foundation.

“The delegation not only includes successful young fashion entrepreneurs but also those who are leading the way in the ethical and sustainable fashion sector in New Zealand,” says Adam.

“Asia is currently the most prosperous and most exciting region in the world. We want to connect Kiwi fashion entrepreneurs with their counterparts in the region. We want them to take advantage of the opportunities that are available there. We don’t want them to miss out,” adds Adam.

The group will take part in a week-long programme that will help them get a better understanding of the fashion sector in Thailand and the region. They will travel to the silk-producing region of Isaan and show their garments at a New Zealand Embassy fashion event.

"This trip is an amazing opportunity for us and we're looking forward to bringing back more knowledge and insights that will hopefully not only benefit Little Yellow Bird but also the wider sustainable fashion sector in New Zealand," says Samantha Jones.

Little Yellow Bird supplies over 100 organisations in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. All products are made with natural and sustainable fabrics which can be traced right back to the farming level. Last year, they saved over seven million litres of water by choosing to use only rainfed cotton, and supported a number of community initiatives including educational scholarships and microloans.

“I’m extremely grateful to be included in the trip,” says Offcut’s Adrien Taylor. “As a start-up founder, it can be hard to get the initial traction and connections to the people that matter in your industry. Trips like this one facilitated by the Foundation are incredibly valuable,” Adrien adds.

Offcut uses fabric offcuts to make hats and caps. Adrien founded the company after a 2015 visit to his father’s curtain warehouse in Christchurch where he saw a room full of discarded pieces of brand new fabric. After learning that the company sent them to landfill, he decided to repurpose them into hats.

A group of people chatting round a table in a fashion studio

The fashion-focussed trip is part of the Foundation’s ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative which aims to build networks between businesspeople in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. The Asia New Zealand Foundation is the leading non-profit, non-partisan organisation focussed on New Zealand-Asia relations.

Media Contact:

Janryll Fernandez
Senior Communications Adviser
027 527 3259