As the shopping experience is being compressed and monopolised online by digital 'high street' giants, some smaller, boutique brands are going their own way; returning to physical retail to be able to control their own stock levels and distribution, to curate a space that reflects the aesthetic of their brand, and to connect and, ultimately, satisfy customers in a way the digital space can't.
Designer Elizabeth Wilson has a wealth of experience in the New Zealand fashion industry. "I started off training as a graphic and product designer", she explains. "After working in advertising for a few years I realised I was abnormally fixated on fashion so I retrained and ended up working for Karen Walker as her Design Assistant. After that I put my graphic skills into use working as a freelance textile designer."
All of this experience culminated in the launch of Eugenie, Elizabeth's own brand, a few years ago, so she could exercise "creative freedom", and a physical retail space was apparently always part of the plan. "I care a lot about the way the garments are presented and the experience of the customer, so a store was always the goal for me," she explains.
The store sits in a quiet little side street of Auckland's destination shopping and eating area, Ponsonby, and is, naturally, a beautifully curated space, which makes sense when you consider not only Elizabeth's graphic and fashion design skills, but also the fact that her partner, Simon Oosterdijk, is a multi-disciplinary designer, and creative director of incredible New Zealand philosophy-cum-design magazine (all of the infographics!), Pie Paper. "I’m really proud of the way it looks - it’s quite an experience to visit. Simon took inspiration from industrial space research facilities and manufacturing plants. I think my favourite piece is my rainbow gold desk, but I love all of our pastel industrial racks too. It’s modular which means we can have a lot of fun constantly changing things around."
You can visit Eugenie online here, or in real life at 51 Mackelvie Street, Ponsonby, Auckland (there's even off-street parking).
In other news, Eugenie is presenting her summer 2013-14 collection in the 'Gatecrashers' show at The Marr Factory next week.
Words: Courtney Sanders
Photography: Alexander Schipper
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