Fashion career sustainable in UK

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Slow fashion . . . Tara Viggo, an Otago Polytechnic graduate, launched Paper Theory Patterns, a website where people can buy her patterns and make their own clothes. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Tara Viggo graduated from Otago Polytechnic’s School of Fashion in 2005 and has since worked as a pattern cutter for the high street and luxury brands in London. The Star reporter Jessica Wilson talks to her about sustainable fashion.

After witnessing the fast-fashion practices for nearly 10 years, pattern cutter Tara Viggo wanted out.

“I wanted to find a way for people to still wear nice clothes but without having to buy them from the high street,” she said, speaking from London.

So she launched Paper Theory Patterns, a website where people can buy her patterns and make their own clothes at home.

“I encourage people to reuse fabrics or buy ethical fabrics and slow down their consumption.”

Feedback had been positive and the market had been growing.

“People are grateful to be able to buy patterns from a professional pattern cutter and make them themselves.”

Her passion for sustainable fashion develop while working for fast-fashion companies and seeing first-hand the volume of products produced.

“I would go to the warehouse and see the stuff coming off the lorries.

“I would make a blouse and then two weeks later there would be 60,000 of them in the warehouse.

“It’s quite overwhelming to see those numbers.”

It was sad witnessing the effects of globalisation on the fashion industry, she said.

It had “stripped people’s choice and character”.

Fifteen years ago, people could travel to places like Japan, New York and London and see different clothes and styles.

“Everywhere had a distinct look and now it doesn’t matter where you go .. all over the world people are dressing the same.”

Even though New Zealand did not have the same high street stores as London, people could order their clothes online.

Ms Viggo said the fashion industry in the United Kingdom was much bigger than New Zealand, which tended to have more boutique stores.

In New Zealand, people were more involved across the whole industry, whereas overseas they specialised in one area, she said,

“In London it’s very competitive.

“There’s a lot of people fighting for jobs.

“It moves quickly. I enjoy it.”

She has been in London for about 13 years and was due to come home for a holiday, but cannot because of Covid-19.