A stalwart of Wellington fashion design has folded after more than four decades in the industry.
Designer Ashley Fogel has announced his decision to discontinue his self-titled label and close the doors of his Miramar factory.
Greater Wellington regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde, an enthusiastic supporter of the brand, said she was very disappointed by the news.
"I think it's a great shame as it's been a wonderful brand for Wellington, obviously, but New Zealand as well.
"It was up there with our top designers - Ashley Fogel always produced garments that New Zealanders could wear, that were always good quality."
She noted that the closure of Ashley Fogel was also a loss to local business.
"Apart from the label, it's jobs that are going, and that's no good for Wellington."
Fogel has designed and manufactured women's clothing for more than 40 years, and launched the label with his former wife, Wende Fogel, in 1991.
At its peak, the label employed 55 people at the Miramar factory. Earlier this year, that number was down to 9.
Fogel said that slow business and competition from overseas retailers had taken its toll.
"Over the last years we have adapted, in every possible way to the new trading conditions . . . however, the slow pace of forward sales and strong New Zealand dollar is meaning people are increasingly buying offshore.
"I want to end on a high note." He had already outsourced production of the garments to China at the end of last year in a bid to remain competitive.
He said in May that Wellington's high rents, shrinking public service, and increased spending on internet shopping sites such as Asos were all putting pressure on retailers.
Fogel had also suffered a heart attack in April, and said that his health had contributed to his decision.
He is the latest in a string of independent Wellington fashion designers to downsize or discontinue their labels this year.
Alexandra Owen - whose shows at New Zealand Fashion Week were widely acclaimed - discontinued her self-titled label and closed her flagship store in July.
Tanya Carlson shut the doors on her Wellington store in February, blaming "unrealistic" rent increases, while Andrea Moore shifted her workroom to Auckland in 2009.
- The Dominion Post