Designer commits to Wellington

Designer Robyn Mathieson won't leave Welly

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 09:14 07/06/2012
Robyn Mathieson
AMY JACKMAN
Honoured: Designer Robyn Mathieson has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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Fashion designer and lover of colour Robyn Mathieson relishes living in Wellington and has no intention of leaving.

Ms Mathieson was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to fashion in the Queen's Birthday honours on Monday.

Unlike other high-profile Wellington fashion designers, such as Andrea Moore and Alexandra Owen, Ms Mathieson said she was very happy to remain in the capital.

"I love the city and the fact that you can be in the bush in about 20 minutes and at 10 different beaches in half an hour," she said.

"And I like the fact that it is very creative for the size of it. It is such a beautiful place."

She said that when she received her Queen's Birthday honours letter, she thought one of her friends was playing a joke.

"I looked at it and I thought, 'Oh, this looks suspiciously official'.

"I was trying to think what I might have done to receive such an official letter."

"When I opened it I thought, 'This isn't real. One of my friends is playing a practical joke on me."'

The letter arrived in early May and Ms Mathieson said one of the hardest things was keeping it a secret for so long.

"You're not supposed to tell anyone, which is hard. But I did manage to keep it a secret. Then I put it up on Facebook."

Ms Mathieson went to design school in Wellington for a year before dropping out.

"Sadly, I couldn't afford to stay," she said.

"I would love to have stayed, but needed to support myself financially. I was grown up already and had been making clothes and selling them before I went to polytech."

Ms Mathieson began her business sharing a small retail space in Cuba St.

She moved to London for a couple of years, but said the style in London in the 1980s was too conservative.

After returning to Wellington she began building her business from the ground up.

"I just worked my way up from nothing really," she said.

"No money has been put in by other people.

"I did everything myself. A year or so down the track I got another person and so on."

She now has two boutique stores, one in Wellington, the other in Auckland. She is also a stockist in more than 20 boutiques nationwide.

All her clothes are made in New Zealand.

"The quality of the garments and how they are made is really important to me," Ms Mathieson said.

"When you go offshore you lose some of your ability to monitor that."

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She is well-known for her love of colour and said people came to her store because of the colour.

"I have always used lots of colour, but I didn't realise for a while that it was something I did more than anybody else.

"We get people coming here looking for colour because they know we have it.

"If we make black in here, we can't sell it."

- The Wellingtonian

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