As a fledgling brand with big aspirations, Out Of Comfort is always looking for the next steps to grow, connect and better portray our message through our product. Nothing worthwhile is achieved without hard work and for any of you grinding at a start-up business, you will know we can sometimes get caught up in the hard and not take a second to breathe and appreciate how far we have come. Something I am definitely guilty of.
So, when the organisers of Vancouver Fashion Week reached out to me last winter to invite me to showcase my first collection at the September 2018 Show…you may understand why I dismissed the contact as a joke! Working away here in Christchurch on my first menswear collection, the idea that Out Of Comfort had gained international recognition seemed unbelievable, but it was true, my Long Time Come collection had been selected. It was a no brainer, I had to showcase. Then reality hit. Travelling over 13,000km to put Out Of Comfort on the world stage wouldn’t come cheap and, with all my funds being reinvested into growing the business, it just wasn’t a possibility.
After talking to day one Out Of Comfort supporters, I realised this was an opportunity I had to make a reality by any means possible. So, I took on another part-time job and set up a Give a Little fundraiser page, with the support I received over the next few month something I could never have expected. The love for my fledgling Christchurch fashion brand flooded in and soon the trip started to look more like a possibility. This was solidified further when Apparel Magazine reached out and offered a contribution to push us over the line. We were heading to Vancouver!
As Out Of Comfort’s first introduction to the international fashion stage we had a lot to prove. However, as the only Maori exhibiting and a realisation that my brand was being recognised by its peers, as we stepped on the plane, no matter the outcome, I had never been so proud of OOC and what we had managed to achieve so far.
The week was a heady blur of nerves, networking and, overall, an overwhelming success. The show was incredible and the opportunity to showcase amongst peers with the same drive and vision as OOC, invaluable. Moreover, people seemed to love this Aotearoa based brand as much as we do! Not only did I receive incredible support from local media such as Cityscape & Metropol, but we were covered further afield too, with Nylon Magasine based in New York listing Out Of Comfort as an emerging designer to watch. A few other familiar faces showed us some love too!
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Heading home, I was filled with warmth from the incredible support showed by friends, family and peers and reminded just why this passion project of mine was worth all the hard work. It reignited my excitement for what was next for Out Of Comfort, with the best definitely yet to come. It showed putting my stamp on the modern menswear landscape here in my hometown can have impact, and I will continue to bring the Out Of Comfort values to my hometown and further afield for many years to come.
I would like to give another thank you to Apparel Magazine, all those who supported the Give a Little campaign, my family, Jess, Ads & my sister Sinomi being the best support at the show and all of you who have played a part in the Out Of Comfort journey so far. Thank you!