Once again, the talent flowing from the School of Fashion at Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga is making ripples beyond campus.
Bachelor of Design (Fashion) alumni Jonty Blakely and Ethan Cruise are the newest members of the iD Dunedin Fashion Board, their appointments announced at the Board’s first meeting of the year recently.
“It’s very exciting to have Ethan and Jonty join our iD team,” says iD Board Co-Chair Prof Margo Barton.
“They also continue a strong connection between Otago Polytechnic and the iD Board, which currently includes well known designers such as Tanya Carlsson and Tara Viggo.
“We have several board members who are Otago Polytechnic fashion alumni. They might be at different stages of their fashion careers, but that’s healthy as they bring a variety of perspectives.
“It also reflects how the Fashion Design programme at Otago Polytechnic leads to a range of outcomes. Some graduates go on to work on their own businesses and label(s), but many others are employed with well-known industry players, or turn their design skills and methodologies to other areas.
“All of them have the ability not only to be creative, but to collaborate with and learn from others – that outlook and flexibility of thinking is highly valued.
“And that’s where Ethan and Jonty come in. Their energy and ability, as well as the many connections they have already established within the wider fashion community, will be of great value to iD Dunedin,” Prof Barton says.
“And they are talented. They have already shown collections at high-profile events, including last year’s iD Fashion Week and New Zealand Fashion Week.”
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) in 2021, Jonty teamed up with 2022 Fashion graduate Ethan around two years ago, the pair opening a workroom studio in King Edward Court on Stuart St, Dunedin.
Sharing the space with several fellow Otago Polytechnic Fashion alumni, the pair are proud of what they have helped create – a community of practice, a hub for ideas and enterprise.
Notably, the pair have plans to stage an iD event in April within the building, formerly known as King Edward Technical College and previously home to Otago Polytechnic.
The event is one of several planned for 2024, which is a gap year for the iconic iD Dunedin Fashion Week, which has changed to a biennial format in a move designed to maximise its impact (the next hallmark iD Dunedin Fashion Show at the Dunedin Railway Station will take place in April 2025).
“Being invited to join the iD Board is a great opportunity,” Ethan says. “It’s really exciting and will push us out of our comfort zone, which is great.”
Jonty agrees, adding that he’s looking forward to learning from more experienced fashionistas: “It’s a chance to gain insights into how big events are run, and how others go about putting flesh on the bones of ideas.
“At the same time, we are able to bring a fresh perspective to things. Foe example, I’m excited about working with the wider creative community in Ōtepoti, bringing in other disciplines.”
Ethan: “Because we also exist in the emerging designer space, we see this as a chance to open the doors for others. It’s the opposite of gate-keeping.”