Shore teenage designers dazzled audiences at this year's New Zealand Fashion Week, managing shows at the nation's most prominent fashion platform and walking away with accolades.
‘Walk the Line’, currently in its 8th year, was the only show on NZFW's schedule run by youth for youth, and featured original designs by 50 fashion darlings from across the country.
Every garment was designed and styled by teenagers aged 13-18 years, while the North Shore crew of YMCA’s youth development programme, Raise Up, managed the show.
Raise Up was founded by not-for profit organisation YMCA in 2002, as a way to help Kiwi youth reach their full potential. The not-for-profit, with the help of trusts and grants, has continued to invest more than $350,000 each year to deliver Raise Up in 11 locations across Auckland and Hamilton. Its North Shore division leads the annual NZ Fashion Week event.
Seventeen-year-old Campbells Bay resident Jacqueline Li has been involved with the programme for the last four years. She credits it with developing some of her strongest friendships and fondest memories. Describing why she loves it, Li cites the immense respect and autonomy afforded to participants by YMCA's management team.
"Unlike other youth programmes, YMCA really does put us in the driver's seat. We're given total control to call the shots, have fun, make mistakes and learn for next time."
Currently in her final year of high school at Carmel College and working part-time, Jacqueline's schedule is already hectic, but she assures us that finding time for Raise Up is no burden at all.
"Two hours a week is nothing to give up for something you love. Besides, our meetings are always really focused; we always achieve what we set out to."
Skills that bode well for her future, Jacqueline has recently applied to study both Law and Global Studies at the University of Auckland next year, with the hopes of landing a career that allows her to “continue helping and working closely with others.”
True to Raise Up's mission of empowerment, this year’s 'Walk the Line' show was themed ‘Be who you want to be’.
Raise Up’s North Shore coordinator, 20-year-old Georgia Brodie led a crew of 20 teens to plan and execute the show. From calling for registrations, to sourcing sponsorship and putting the final touches on the main event – it was a mammoth job – but she says it gave her young team a decent crack at project management.
“I’ve seen a group of school students go from the schoolyard to facilitating, producing and directing a fashion show for a world stage. This is valuable experience that will set them up for their future careers,” says Georgia.
Doris de Pont ONZM of New Zealand Fashion Museum has been involved with YMCA’s ‘Walk the Line’ as a judge for three years. This year, she sat alongside Carly Tolley (NZ Fashion Tech) and Simone Anderson (author and social media star) on the judging panel.
Together they selected 17-year-old Amber Nye-Hingston from Kristin School as the winner of the Creative Recycling category with a colourful cape design made from milk bottle tops.
Doris commented: “`The new' is always interesting – seeing what ideas young people are working with and thinking about. They are where the future of fashion lies."
‘Walk the Line’ is one of many Raise Up activities run throughout Auckland. Others include a mixture of regular weekly activities, events, workshops and personal development options tailored to the interests of youth in each region.
The programme offers youth a safe and positive environment to relax, socialise and achieve their goals. Crews consist of 15-20 members selected from local high schools. Each member volunteers for two hours a week – with that time spent planning and implementing events, weekly activities, outdoor days and educational workshops for their peers. The Raise Up environment allows them to learn leadership and event management skills that will serve them well in their careers.
Young people can apply to join the crew at www.raiseup.co.nz.