Ockham Lecture Series: Kiri Nathan in conversation with Kim Fraser: Design, Fashion and Cultural Integrity

Ten years ago Kiri Nathan founded her eponymous clothing label and over the last decade has developed it into an internationally-acclaimed high-end fashion brand with a distinctly Māori essence and aesthetic. Bringing traditional and contemporary making practices together, the label…

Ockham Lecture Series: Kiri Nathan in conversation with Kim Fraser: Design, Fashion and Cultural Integrity

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Ten years ago Kiri Nathan founded her eponymous clothing label and over the last decade has developed it into an internationally-acclaimed high-end fashion brand with a distinctly Māori essence and aesthetic.

Bringing traditional and contemporary making practices together, the label includes handwoven kākahu, custom dresses and pounamu jewellery and sculpture.

Alongside developing her brand, Kiri recently established the Kāhui Collective, a group that fosters collaboration and knowledge-sharing to build a uniquely Māori fashion industry.

For this Ockham Lecture, Kiri will be in conversation with her long-time mentor and friend, Kim Fraser. Kim was Kiri’s fashion tutor at Manukau Institute of Technology and they have been closely connected ever since. Kim’s focus on sustainability within fashion runs parallel to Kiri’s attention to ensuring design processes, commercialisation and support of Indigenous designers are delivered with cultural integrity. The conversation will explore Kiri’s design ethos and the principles behind her mahi.

Kiri Nathan (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Haua) is co-founder of fashion brand Kiri Nathan. KN embodies identity and inclusivity. Inspired by Aotearoa New Zealand and te ao Māori, the company is built on tradition, culture, unique designs, integrity and a clear company vision.

Kiri Nathan has dressed a number of notable figures, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Beyonce Knowles, Mariah Carey and Michelle Obama. Nathan has shown at New Zealand Fashion Week and Guangzhou Fashion Week China. The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa acquired 13 KN pieces in 2017 and the handwoven silk gown made for filmmaker Chelsea Winstanley to wear at the Academy Awards 2020.

Kiri was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the fashion industry in the 2020 Queens Birthday Honours.

Most importantly, Kiri is mother to five tamariki (children) and three moko (grandchildren).

Kim Fraser (Ngāti Hako) was born in Tokoroa and is a designer, researcher, teacher and maker working on projects that promote strategies for more sustainable textile product. Her long and varied fashion career began in the mid 80s culminating in six New Zealand Fashion Design Awards by 1998. In the late 90s Kim was the prime mover and developer of the incubator concept for New Zealand fashion, launching the first Fashion Incubator in Auckland (2000). In 2006 her growing concern about unsustainability within the fashion industry motivated her master’s degree research. Now grounded in socially responsible design, her practitioner research has resulted in several co-authored international publications discussing textiles in the waste stream. Kim’s current focus is on developing best practice micro solutions for change, in the fashion industry.

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