Auckland designer Wynn Crawshaw has taken Australian Fashion Week by storm with his semi-eponymous label Wynn Hamlyn debuting its Resort ‘23 collection on Tuesday night in Sydney - taking inspiration from the opening of borders and the looks you might see in a (very stylish) departure lounge.
The collection, which will be available to New Zealand fans from October and November, showcased many of the signatures that Wynn Hamlyn has become known for, including bold colour, contemporary twists on knitwear and an appreciation of craft details – alongside travel-appropriate puffer jackets and tropical prints.
This was the first time the brand has shown on the AFW schedule, and comes after NZ Fashion Week was cancelled earlier this year. Wynn Hamlyn is the only New Zealand-based brand with an official on-schedule show at Australia’s biggest fashion event.
Australia has historically been a lucrative market for New Zealand brands wanting to expand internationally, with designers like Kate Sylvester and Maggie Marilyn having shown as part of AFW in recent years.
We spoke with Wynn Hamlyn brand manager (and designer Crawshaw’s wife) Lana Morrison Crawshaw the morning after the show, to hear more about the collection and what it meant for the brand.
TB: Congrats! How did the show go?
LMC: It was a big effort, but we're feeling really stoked. It's been such a huge lead up to getting us to show at Australian Fashion Week - it’s something that's been in motion since last year in a lot of ways.
It's amazing to pull it off, especially with all the border challenges. It has been quite incredible planning and organising it from New Zealand and then seeing it come to life right in front of us.
We had great feedback. A lot of people were buzzing and saying "best show of the week!" I've only heard good feedback, so I hope that stays true!
How does that remote approach differ to how you'd usually prepare for a show?
It was different in a lot of ways, but it felt like a step forward for us.
We haven't shown in a very long time. Obviously in the past we've shown at NZ Fashion Week, which is similar but on a different scale.
Wynn said to me before the show, “it is so strange” because he's all about the making of the clothes - and in an ideal world, he'd be working away at something in the studio into the wee hours of the morning before if he could. This format doesn't allow that.
Tell me about the collection you showed?
This collection, Wynn has named Departure Lounge. It's inspired by the world opening up again - but more so, the looks that you see in a departure lounge.
It’s the feeling of anticipation of everyone getting ready to travel again, and people wearing their holiday gear as a token or badge of where they've been - or where they're going.
I like to think of the idea of going to Hawaii and buying your shirt from the gift shop, or maybe you've bought a puffer jacket on sale somewhere and can't fit it in your suitcase, so you're wearing your puffer. Or you've spent the weekend hiking, so you've got your Salomons [hiking boots] on.
It's about the juxtaposition of taking things from where you've been and giving them a new life. It's a kind of a play on where we are in the world at the moment and us thinking about where we want to go.
Tell me about the venue - an old railway tunnel?
We showed in a railway tunnel, under Central Station in Sydney's Haymarket. I’m not even sure who found it, but it really fit into that theme of a transit lounge and going somewhere.
But we also wanted to present something at Australian Fashion Week that was a really different offering to what traditional Australian brands present.
You’re the only Kiwi brand, and one of the only internationals, showing at Australian Fashion Week this year. What motivated you to show across the ditch?
For us, particularly during the pandemic, Australia has become a second home for the brand. We've really grown a strong presence here with our incredible partners and stockists, and so it felt like the right time to cement something and talk to those consumers.
At the same time, the world is opening up, and we're getting back to doing international showings and this is [one of] the first fashion weeks that international press and media and buyers have travelled too.
It felt like a real opportunity to meet them a little closer to home and be able to show, on our terms, who we are.
There’s a strong Kiwi component in Sydney this week too - was it nice having some homegrown support around you?
Yes, Jessie [Wong] from Yu Mei is here and jeweller Jasmin Sparrow, who I’m really good friends with, has some jewellery showing in the Beare Park show. A lot of Kiwi brands are seeing Australia as a great opportunity.
We've got such strong friendships with a lot of Australians over here, but It's always so lovely to have people around you that really know you and the brand.
You talked before about this collection representing where you want to go. Where will you be showing next?
I would like to dream big and say it will be in New York, another big leap for us. But that is a little while away I think!