NZFW confirms streetwear is still going strong

’90s revival.

In Auckland last week, New Zealand Fashion Week closed with a streetwear collection that represented more than just a comfortable alternative to traditional fashion. Iconic New Zealand brand Huffer hosted the final runway of the week – as they always do – by delivering a strong vision for functional fashion that goes beyond the puffer jacket.

We chatted to Huffer founder Steve Dunstan about the new collection on the eve of the brand’s 21st birthday. He was cheerfully reflective about returning to their ’90s roots at a time that the decade is having such a renaissance.

“[This collection] is really who we are – we’ll never forget where we’ve come from,” said Dunstan. “It is very strongly confident streetwear with a technical aspect. I can’t believe it’s taken 21 years to come back to your roots… It was so fun to have the brief just be ‘us’.”

Huffer’s humble beginnings were rooted in the ’90s skate and snowboard scene, which meant that quality and longevity was the key to the brand’s initial designs. That focus on technical design has found Huffer a wider-reaching audience as streetwear continues to have a moment – a trend that is deeply rooted in the functional and has found new meaning within the context of our increasingly busy lives.

“Functionality – the fact that life is so fast paced, you need shit that works,” agrees Dunstan. “The fact that sportswear and streetwear is just so damn functional – and now through the evolution of technology, you can do [so much more] with the fabrics. It just makes sense.”

This attention to quality is something that fast fashion giants have forgotten in their race to deliver trends to store as quickly as possible. “Fast fashion is designed in a boardroom,” notes Dunstan. “The first products [Huffer] made were very technical, and it was for a purpose. It was born out of sports culture, which was an expression of who you are and how you do it… when it comes to trends, we just look inwards to our history. That’s an amazing asset to use.”

Having already launched in Sydney a few years ago, Huffer is now bringing its technical raincoats, puffer jackets and high-end streetwear to Melbourne’s shopping hub at Melbourne Central. Considering the new collection is so bold – featuring vibrant highlighter yellow and pop orange – it’s almost surprising that Huffer has chosen Melbourne for its next store. Thankfully, there’s plenty of black in the collection for those keen on a more subtle entry into the Huffer brand.

“Australian culture is so different to New Zealand culture. Instead of guessing what Australia “is”, we immersed ourselves into the market,” says Dunstan of his adopted Bondi home. “Melbourne is more about streetwear than Sydney – they’re two different markets. Victoria definitely aligns more to Huffer.”

And considering this writer took home a very ‘Melbourne’ shopping bag containing a pair of black jeans, a classic white tee, and a technical rainwear jacket that can easily withstand four seasons in one day, I’d have to agree.


Bianca O’Neill was a guest of Huffer at New Zealand Fashion Week 2018.

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