Southland designer off to Shanghai Fashion Week
Southland farmboy stumbles into fashionLAUREN HAYES
A Southland farmboy will push the boundaries when he shows his work at Shanghai Fashion Week this month.
Fashion design student Sam Ralph, 21, and five other Otago Polytechnic fashion students have been invited to China as part of a sister school arrangement with the International Fashion Academy Paris in Shanghai.
While there, the group will have their collections photographed and will show their work in an official Shanghai Fashion Week runway show.
''It's quite an unbelievable opportunity. It'll just be a real amazing experience,'' he said.
Although he is immersed in the fashion world now, the former James Hargest pupil spent most of his childhood on Southland dairy farms.
''We always moved, from Winton to Wallacetown to Woodlands,'' he said.
''I sort of stumbled into fashion, really.''
To display their work in Shanghai, the New Zealand designers had to link their collections with the show's green theme.
The students had interpreted this is in different ways, with Ralph choosing to represent green as new.
''My green theme is really pushing the boundaries.
''It's been designed to really change the way of thinking about menswear. For example, two of my models are wearing skirts.
''It's certainly not anything you'd see anyone wearing in Invercargill.''
To further confuse traditional fashion gender roles, he designed the fabrics to look especially manly.
Playboy aviator Howard Hughes served as inspiration for the prints, and Ralph bought a model of Hughes' 'Spruce Goose' Hercules plane to copy exact details.
Otago Polytechnic and the Shanghai government are paying for most of the bill for the trip, but the students contributed $1000 each to cover the last few costs.
To raise the funds, Ralph created homesewn bags and sold them online.
Now in his final year of study, Ralph said he hoped to enter the 2013 ID Dunedin Fashion Week and planned to move to Auckland next year.
However, he was realistic about his chances of landing a job in fashion straight after graduation.
''It's a weird thing. You can't necessarily sort of apply for a job. Nothing really pops up on Trade Me or even on the career sites.''
He had printed business cards with Chinese characters, just in case a job opportunity arose on the trip.
The fashion contingent leaves for Shanghai on Monday, and will show their work at Shanghai Fashion Week on October 22.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.