Promising first steps in the fashion industry have been taken by Athenree designer Stephanie Saxton. The 24-year-old will feature her Saltysea collection in a runway show at the New Zealand Fashion Week from August 27 to September 2. Stephanie says the fashion industry was never on her radar, but the Athenree entrepreneur proved she has the creative talent to make it to the industry's top event.
"I'd always had a passion to create something of my own, something I was proud of, but also something I could use as a vehicle to give back and do something positive in the world.
"I've always had a love for comfortable clothing, and having an active lifestyle growing up, I wore activewear 90 per cent of the time. I try my absolute best to live a healthy and ethical lifestyle, so teaming these things together, I was inspired to take the plunge and create Saltysea," She says.
By MELANIE CAMOIN
A young Athenree designer is off to New Zealand Fashion Week this month. Stephanie Saxton might have started her fashion brand only six months ago, but her talent has been noticed by the industry. The 24 years old launched Saltysea, an ethically-made range of swimwear and activewear in February. She designs every piece of her collection and sources the fabric from Bali.
"It's such an incredible feeling to be recognised for all the hard work. I've poured so much into creating this collection, and to be recognised s extremely encouraging.
"A big part in creating Saltysea was the goal to create more than just a clothing brand, but to build a community and really collaborate with other young entrepreneurs in New Zealand," she says. Stephanie has been working alongside Mount Maunganui's Matt Bear founder of BearBones SurfCo, Jewellery designer Zoe of Caja Jewellery, in Wanaka and photographer Georgia Mcneil, founder of Georgia Mcneil Photography to showcase her collection. Stephanie says her pieces showcase the spirit of adventure - from the world traveller, the mountain climber to the everyday active lifestyle.
"We honour the natural curves of a woman's body allowing her to go on life's adventures in confidence and comfort." But the young designer says sustainability and ethics in her creations have always been crucial.
"A goal of mine from the beginning was to design simplistic and thoughtful pieces with an importance on leaving a positive ethical and environmental footprint on the world, and although this takes time to achieve, it's been incredibly important from day one to provide a fair living wage to our manufacturing team, in which they receive meals each work day, hours that suit them, their families, and their lifestyles.
"I know this first hand because I spent five weeks in Bali in the sampling process of my first collection, meeting my manufacturers and making sure everything I read and researched aligned with the values I wanted for Saltysea," she says.
Originally from Vancouver, Stephanie came to New Zealand at 18 to join her partner, local man Buddy Harwood. She says he and his family have been supportive from day one. "Buddy has been a huge part in the creation of Saltysea, always encouraging me to strive while keeping me grounded and aligned with my values. "The whole Harwood family will be attending our [NZ Fashion Week] runway. They've been nothing but supportive the entire journey. "My family are all in Canada and I'd love for them to be here, but they'll definitely be streaming live," she says. At NZ Fashion Week, Stephanie will also feature some new pieces of her collection.