Fashion Week boss struggles with bills

20:59, Aug 11 2012
CAMERON SNEDDON
CAMERON SNEDDON: Event left him "a little out of pocket".

The organiser of the inaugural Wellington Fashion Week has staged a "new season catwalk show" to recoup costs from the event.

It is understood that Thursday night's BMW Fashion in the Capital showcase at St Johns Bar was in part a bid to cover debts overdue to individuals and businesses involved in Fashion Week.

Organiser Cameron Sneddon said at the wrap party for the five-day-long event in April that it had cost $100,000 and left him "a little out of pocket".

Members of his management team now claim that Wellington Fashion Week Ltd, of which Mr Sneddon is the director and sole shareholder, owes thousands of dollars to people who made the event possible.

Former production manager James Butters said that, less than a week before the April 18 launch, Mr Sneddon told him that "we've got no money and all spending has to stop".

"My first thoughts were, why weren't we warned earlier? How are we going to be able to pull off a fashion week with no money?"

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Mr Sneddon refused to be interviewed or answer detailed questions, but said in an email that Wellington Fashion Week had been a "huge success".

"Financially it brought money into the local economy . . . during the low season. With any event in its first year, it is a learning curve as we started up from scratch and brought an amazing event to the capital."

He said it would be "even more of an impressive event next year".

Days before the launch, $12,500 of catering services were cancelled in an attempt to curb all non-essential spending.

Models and volunteers were also expected to cover associated costs such as meals and taxis themselves.

One model said he and many others missed out on wages in order to take part. He was owed $300, but knew of female models owed more.

"We're all out of pocket. There's usually a delay in payment for modelling, but nobody expected it to go on this long."

He said he had refused an opportunity to model in Fashion in the Capital. "I said there's no way that we were going to help him out and not get paid for it again."

Though venue hire for Massey University's Great Hall - offered at a discounted rate - had been paid, the cost of hiring extra security and cleaning staff for the event was still outstanding.

Massey communications director James Gardiner said some aspects of Mr Sneddon's management of Fashion Week "caused us concern".

"We'd want to talk to him about those before we considered supporting it again in future . . . that would depend on him clearing any debts he owes to Massey."

Kirsty Bunny, of Kirsty Bunny Management, which supplied models for both Fashion Week and Fashion in the Capital, said this week she was in discussions with Mr Sneddon regarding overdue payment for Fashion Week, and she was "hopeful of a good outcome".

Jack Candlish, of STIK Signworks, who has not been paid for promotional signage for the event, defended Mr Sneddon's vision.

"He's working hard to repay the debt and I'd encourage him to treat this year's event as a learning curve.

"No-one ever cracks it on their first attempt."

Fashion Week sponsors included Wellington International Airport, Wellington City Council, the Museum Hotel, and Kirkcaldie & Stains. Tickets to the main group shows cost $80.

Thursday night's show was nearly a sellout, a spokeswoman for Dash Tickets said.

The capacity of St Johns is 300.

Contact Elle Hunt
General reporter
Email: elle.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @mlle_elle

The Dominion Post