I worked on our Re: Purpose/Use/Cycle fashion programme for the past 3 months and it was my
first project I had to lead. It was such a journey of growth with some challenging moments, but
throughout it all I enjoyed it so much!
With our Re:Purpose/Use/Cycle fashion programme, we had different students from Whitecliffe
come and speak to our participants about the importance of sustainable fashion. They showed
us how we can extend the lifetime of garments and how our creativity can be used as a tool to
repurpose pieces and create something completely different.
We had youth aged from 7 years old to 26 years old participate and for the majority of them, it
was the first time they have ever used a sewing machine to create their repurposed designs.
Some of them modelled their own pieces, while others had aspiring models wearing their
In preparation for the RE: Purpose/Use/Cycle Fashion Show, we ran a model workshop, led by the beautiful, Diamond Langi, Miss Universe New Zealand 2019 – 2020. Although the students
started off a bit shy and some had their parents walk with them during the rehearsal, when it
came to the end of the workshop they felt more confident and were excited for the fashion show.
Come show day, youth came on-site to Whitecliffe. Smiles and laughter filled the space along
with the normal three speakers playing different music from each corner of the room. After
getting their hair and make up done, they changed into their garments and began lining up
behind the stage. Sitting in the audience, eagerly waiting for the show to begin, my nerves for
the youth started to rise. It wasn’t until chants of encouragement could be heard from the youth
from behind the scenes. It was exciting to hear as it was a sign of them saying they were ready
to strut the runway with mana!
With this RE: Purpose/Use/Cycle Fashion Programme being our pilot, I believe the programme
was a success. Our team noticed that even though some of the youth had no interest in fashion,
they still were interested in the idea of repurposing something entirely new. The feedback we
received from parents was positive and the families who attended the fashion show were blown
away by the confidence they witnessed from watching their loved ones walk down the runway.
“When Ethel started a couple of months ago, she would rarely leave my side, clinging to my arm
and making me do the catwalk with her. Last night she was fierce owning the catwalk all on her
own. A shift in her confidence! “ Wyndi Tagi – Ethel’s aunt
“So, my son did a thing last night. The most shy, humble and quiet one out of our kids really
stepped out of his comfort zone and did something that not even we would’ve thought he’d do.
Over the past few months as part of the Dressed in Confidence programme he designed and
worked on his own upcycled outfit and last night he totally owned the runway and modelled his
outfit at their Re: Purpose/Use/Cycle fashion show”. – Nellie Papali’i – Benaiah’s mum
My most memorable part of the RE: Purpose/Use/Cycle Fashion Programme was listening and
reading the feedback from our youth participants. Returning backstage after the final walk, one
youth asked me “So when’s the next one starting?” I laughed and said “hopefully soon”. Some
other feedback I received was that some students mentioned they didn’t enjoy the model
workshop but they would still participate in the programme again as they enjoyed the process.
This links back to the idea that youth don’t necessarily have to like fashion but still have an
interest in the creative or arts sectors.
The rising levels of self confidence I’ve seen from the students have been amazing. Not only are
they building their self confidence, but they’re gaining knowledge about sustainable fashion,
refining their personal style and learning life skills.
The hope of our RE: Purpose/Use/Cycle Fashion Programme is to spark interest in our youth
that the fashion industry can also be a career pathway to pursue. Although it may not be a
traditional route, with passion and hard work it can definitely be achieved.
Lastly I’d like to thank Eke Panuku Auckland Development, Whitecliffe, All Heart NZ and Samala
Robinson Academy for supporting the Dressed in Confidence vision.