September was a big month with no shortage of nice things. Half the Ensemble team celebrated birthdays (Tyson and Lara), Rebecca flew to LA, and Zoe went on a bedazzling streak...
If there was a theme of the month, it was embracing our inner child. From frilly socks to laptop covers to anime merch, clearly we can't go past a bit of toyish whimsy.
As always, we love sharing our new discoveries with you each month. Below, 12 things we bought with our own hard-earned cash that we genuinely love and recommend.
Rhinestone cat collars, about $25
“When you think of sparkle, what do you think after that? Female agency!” Sorry to bring up the Barbie movie again, but I was the only person in the cinema who cracked up at this hilariously cynical line uttered by the Mattel CEO. Probably because I am a raging feminist who owns a rhinestone water bottle (by Collina Strada!), crafted Ensemble's rhinestone microphone and bought these fab rhinestone collars for my two cats Jem and Phoebe. This is the second time I've bought these; I was originally inspired by Tinx who bought them for her cat Ceviche. I'm sorry, they're from Amazon; fuck Jeff Bezos. - Zoe Walker Ahwa
Kowtow compost tee, $129
I am such a tragic urbanist apartment-living liberal that I felt a pang of jealousy seeing the dinky little food scrap bins the council has been delivering to single dwelling households around Auckland. I bought this Kowtow t-shirt so that everyone knows that I too value the proper disposal of organic matter. - Tyson Beckett
Baggu x Hello Kitty laptop bag, $69
I desperately needed something to replace my yoghurt-stained laptop cover, and there’s not a lot of options out there for tech-ware that isn’t hideous. So I decided to embrace my inner Zoe Walker Ahwa and get this toddlercore Hello Kitty one with strawberries on it. Cute! - Lara Daly
Sock Candy socks, USD$20
I’ve just returned from LA where my spending was very limited (although I did manage to extend to two Hailey Bieber strawberry glaze skin smoothies from Erewhon). Because it appears I will never understand the concept of dressing like a grownup. I'm obsessed with what some may call novelty socks but I call FASHION. Besides, when you’re watching your spending socks can give you the same dopamine hit as shoes at a far better price. They sadly only ship to the UK and Canada, but there are ways around that if you really want a pair… - Rebecca Wadey
Chanel foundation, $130
While I was away I caught up with dear friend and makeup artist to the stars, LA-based Kiwi Amber D. Over a mezcal margarita I grilled her about her current favourite products and she mentioned she’s currently obsessed with this Chanel foundation, so of course I bought it at duty free on my way home (You can buy it locally at Smith & Caughey’s). She’s right, it’s incredibly beautiful on the skin; everyone says I’m looking refreshed after my holiday but I know the real truth. - RW
Curaprox Ultra-Soft toothbrush, $10.50
Tyson (Beckett) and I agree on lots of things; greenish bananas, cream blush, compulsive list writing... but where we don’t see eye to eye is toothbrush strength. She’s a firm and I’m an ultra-soft, ever since my dentist told me I was brushing so hard my gums were receding. Yikes. I really like these Swiss ones from Klay, I’m a sucker for the colourways. - LD
Adidas Jamaica 23 Football Jersey, $42 (on sale)
Sometimes life rewards you for braving it to Dress Smart Onehunga on a Sunday. The Adidas outlet was the last store we went to; I was hangry and ready to throw in the towel before I spied this Jamaica team jersey (designed by Wales Bonner) on the kids rack. There was one size XL left and it fit me, and it was on sale!. - LD
Ensemble x Caitlin Snell bow, $115
During NZFW I borrowed the sample of the Ensemble x Caitlin Snell bow; the minute she started making them for sale I bought one for myself and one for my BFF who I was going to visit in the US.
I’m obsessed with this bow. Whether I stick it into my wild unkempt hair to give it a little shape, or scrape my hair back into a low pony and secure it with the bow on a bad hair day, it’s chic, playful and works with honestly any outfit. Bows were one of the biggest trends hitting my feed over NYFW so you can purchase this one knowing all the fashion girlies are in on it, plus it’s made right here in Tāmaki Makaurau with deadstock fabric. - RW
Vintage Sailor Moon T-shirt, from Tatty’s
Sailor Moon is one of the shows I’m currently being served by the TikTok algorithm in short clips (alongside The Nanny and The IT Crowd), as well as ads for a Sailor Moon umbrella and, on Instagram, quotes from the account Sailor Moon Wisdom. I’m not like a super fan or anything, but the algorithms have clearly sniffed out my nostalgic toycore vibe. So, when I saw this T-shirt, featuring Luna, Artemis and Diana, on the Tatty's website, I immediately hit purchase. Love the anime design, and typography. Plus, cats. - ZWA
Tulips from Bhana Brothers, three bunches for $15
“It’s tulip time!” read a handwritten sign attached to one of buckets of unfurling spring blooms lining the pavement on Ponsonby Road. That was all the encouragement I needed. - TB
Pieceworks Puzzle, US$35
I’ve been bereft of puzzles lately (speaking of which, have you done our Ensemble cat puzzle yet? 10/10 recommend!) so knew I wanted to bring one of my favourite brands, Pieceworks, back from the US as they are too heavy to send by post (though they do ship to NZ for those not travelling). This one’s called Psychedelicatessen and is a wonderful mix of pickles and chaotic confectionary. I’m never happier than when I have a puzzle on the go. - RW
Tony Bianco boots, $390
I treat my birthday month as an excuse to buy myself everything my heart desires. Can I afford to? No! But that's a future me problem. To be fair, I have been scouring The Real Real and Vestiaire Collective all year for second hand Ann Demeulemeesters, to no avail. I got my sister in Melbourne to try these on so I knew they had the right roominess at the top. I love them, feels like I have a whole new winter wardrobe just in time for summer! - LD