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Family-run New Zealand label Wixii is prioritising everyday silhouettes and natural fibres

Photography by Nicole Brannen

Words by Kate Streader

“Our design process is always about honouring the yarn and the female form.”

Run by mother-daughter design duo Shelley and Georgia Hembrow, Wixii has been dedicated to sustainable fashion since its inception in 2016. One of the brand’s first moves involved finding ethical manufacturers and gaining an understanding of the production process.

Six years on, Wixii is closely connected with its manufacturers, and as Shelley says, “our fundamental philosophy is to stay small enough to sustain care in all we do”.


Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


Simplicity is at the forefront of all facets of the New Zealand brand, which focuses on clean lines and minimalist designs made using natural fibres and dyes.

We caught up with Shelley to hear about how Wixii started, the ethos behind the brand, and what the Hembrows have learnt through running their slow fashion label.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background? 

 

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We are a family business, my daughter Georgia and I founded Wixii in 2016. Our journey started out in vintage retailing, eventually adding in our own designs through a love of textiles and a background in design.

We collaborate with our fabric manufacturers, who are also our talented pattern makers. Together, we design and create quality garments with a shared focus on specialty fabrics. This is a connection we are so proud of, our makers work exclusively with natural fabrics, are experts in raw materials and are vital to our success in equal parts.

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges. 

We travelled to find ethical manufacturers before we launched, so the upfront cost was a challenge. It took us a few years to get on our feet. Understanding how and where our fabrics were made, and by whom, was a prerequisite but it felt natural to start this way.

 

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Our design process is always about honouring the yarn and the female form. Our garments pass through many skilled hands, using traditional construction methods, and our hand-dyeing colour palette is unique to Wixii. Each part of this process has its challenges, but the benefits for the customer are what drive us forward.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now? 

 

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Our design communication has not changed, it was always about simple clothing that enhances the beauty of the wearer. Our fundamental philosophy is to stay small enough to sustain care in all we do.

 

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We made the decision early on not to wholesale our garments to other stores, cutting out the middle person to make luxury natural fabrics accessible to more people. It was the right decision then and even more so now, as established brands are moving to this more sustainable option of selling directly to the consumer.

How would you describe Wixii to someone who’s never seen it before? 

Wearable everyday clothing, handcrafted in beautiful natural fabrics. Everything we do is connected to nature and history. We design for all people and all ages.

 

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Where did the name come from?

Wixii is a made-up name! We loved the structure of the letters.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label? 

 

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Our improvement in design over time, we have a better sense now of what women want and how clothing makes them feel a certain way. Our natural fabrics can give a sensory experience by being both tactile and comforting. This year we are proud to be developing our own textiles – new world plant-based fabrics with low waste and minimal chemical extraction.

 

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Our second love is image-making and photography, which is Georgia’s background. We have always styled and created our own images ourselves, this as an extension of our creativity. Relaying our dream to our customers creates a connection, which we love.

What do you wish you knew when you started? 

The business side of fashion is relentless. I can’t imagine achieving all we have without the hard work of our family and our loyal staff.

 

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Who do you think is most exciting in Australian/New Zealand fashion right now? 

Customers driving change and encouraging brands to create more responsible outcomes. When I first started trading, I had customers unaware polyester clothing was essentially plastic – we’ve all come a long way. The tide of change is turning for the better, women are at the forefront of this change and they are our customers.

What about the Australian/New Zealand fashion industry needs to change?

 

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Influencers still representing fast fashion like it’s okay. I think most women are more connected to the real movements going on.

Dream Australian/New Zealand collaborators?

So much talent! We would love to work with Bridie Gilbert, Daphne Thao Nguyen, and Pierre Toussaint. Nicole Brannen is one of our favourite photographers and we love Chloe Hill for representing our two nations so well.

 

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Go-to dinner party playlist? 

My husband’s and daughter’s playlists, always!

Who is in your wardrobe right now? 

 

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Vintage silk, vintage brands, Georgia Jay handbags, Riel reworked vintage, and Wixii, always. Shoes are always designers from Australia or international.

How can we buy one of your pieces? 

Through our website or at our newly renovated store in Ponsonby, Auckland. Come over and feel the love from our team. All are welcome.

See more from Wixii here

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