Top Wellington designer quits capital

Alexandra Owen to close flagship store

CAROLYN ENTING
Last updated 13:32 30/05/2012
Alexandra Owen
Alexandra Owen: "There’s been a gutting of the independent boutique brands in the middle of the scale.”

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A top Wellington fashion designer is closing her store and quitting the country due to tough economic conditions.

Alexandra Owen is discontinuing her self-titled label and her Wakefield St store will close in July.

Owen and her husband, award-winning furniture designer James Whitta, plan to take their talents offshore.

The couple say the tough economic climate is one of the main reasons for the move.

Owen said they had “given it everything in the last 12 months”, including expanding the store in February and adding more stock.

“I’ve tried to stay in Wellington, and New Zealand, and committed to using local suppliers for as long as I can but it’s been a challenge to make locally at a price that is competitive by the time it hits retail," Owen said.

“High street fashion is doing such a good job now of designer fashion at high street prices. And a lot of people have returned to heritage brands during the recession too.

"There’s been a gutting of the independent boutique brands in the middle of the scale.”

“We wouldn’t have made it this far without the incredible support of so many people. That’s what makes it the hardest. It will be really hard to leave those people behind,” said Owen.

Whitta said it was just too much hard work to keep their heads above water.

“Alexandra is too talented to be struggling every season. We have an opportunity to wrap things up and focus on making sure she gets to do what she really should be doing, which is designing,” Whitta said.

Owen, who graduated from Massey University, had a meteoric rise since launching her label in 2005. Her shows at New Zealand Fashion Week received national and international acclaim.

She made New Zealand fashion history three years ago becoming the first New Zealand-based fashion designer to be invited onto the official New York Fashion Week schedule by IMG.

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- The Dominion Post

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