Made in New Zealand and sold at prestigious stores such as Moda Operandi and Harvey Nichols, Wynn Hamlyn has become synonymous with artisan-inspired knitwear and tailoring perfection. Here, we chat with founder, creative director and man behind the brand, Wynn Crawshaw.
Photographed & Interviewed by Adam Bryce
Tell us what you do and why you do it.
Make clothes for my label — Wynn Hamlyn. I do it because I love working with amazing people seeing my vision come to life through the collections.
Tell us about the creation of Wynn Hamlyn and the original concept.
The label started with a small knitwear collection. It was based on needle felting and handmade wool tassels. From there, we’ve based all collections on different elements of craft or technique.
What are your thoughts on sustainability, ethical fashion and the current concerns around the fashion schedule and discounting?
I think the calendar is broken. It’s obvious, when brands are delivering collections two months after the last and the current range has to be discounted, after only that short time in store. Not many, apart from huge retailers, can sustain taking in that many collections a year and, so, they have to skip collections.
What inspires the Wynn Hamlyn aesthetic?
Most of all, the aesthetic is inspired by craft. The world is full of amazing artisans and craftspeople.
How does fast fashion affect your business?
I don’t see it as a fast fashion problem, I don’t know the fast fashion calendar and, generally, I wouldn’t say we’re affected by fast fashion too much because our offerings and consumers’ reasons to buy are so different.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on all businesses globally, have you made any changes the way you operate in response to this?
As a first response, we’ve decreased the size of our ranges by half. It’s already feeling much more manageable doing smaller, more curated ranges. And the discussion about the seasons, how many and when is happening now.
How has Wynn Hamlyn changed since its inception?
I guess we’ve been through cycles of making commercial collections and, then, finding ourselves back at our core design values. I feel like, now, we’ve found a balance between the two and have a collection that still holds true to the craft but is also marketable and wearable.
Have your goals and focus changed moving forward?
Yes, I’m less interested in growing and more focused on the brand only doing things that make sense.
What are your thoughts on the formation of a New Zealand fashion council? How do you see the future of New Zealand fashion withstanding the current economic issues.
I love the idea of having a New Zealand fashion council. There’s a tonne of energy here, people talking and working together. A fashion council we be a focal point for that, I guess. Fashion in Focus and Mindful Fashion NZ are independent events/organisations creating a conversation around New Zealand fashion; a fashion council would be a great addition them. Looking back, the industry felt like a closed club when I started. It would be cool to have a fashion council to help young designers into the industry.
I see the current group of leaders in New Zealand fashion, of which you sit, to be the most successful we’ve ever had but also having very much an aesthetic to themselves. Wynn Hamlyn doesn’t seem impacted by global trends and, yet, at the same time seems relevant… what is it that makes New Zealand fashion today so unique?
To be honest, I have no idea. With myself, and I’m sure other brands, we just work at our vision, which we don’t see as particularly New Zealand but, ultimately, something unique comes through. I guess it’s hard to know you have a particular flavour when you’re so in it — kind of like having an accent. I love the fact that, as a new generation, we’re doing well and I think that without knowing we’ve helped each other. That’s pretty cool. And, now, as we all look inwards after Covid-19 and refocus on why we’re doing this, that will strengthen us and create brands that will be there in 20 years.