Lifestyle

What NZ fashion designers are reading and listening to this summer


Everyone loves a good recommendation. We know this because every time we do a list of them on Ensemble, our traffic shoots through the roof and we receive messages from people thanking us for their happy purchases.

So this summer, we decided to tap a selection of leading tastemakers in the fashion community to share their favourite books and podcasts – because while the days might be long, time is precious, and life is too short to spend aimlessly flicking through your devices!

READ MORE:
* My Sunday: Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body is Not an Apology
* Tell me about it: The new Stuff podcast where women share their own, complicated stories
* Author Rosetta Allan’s adventurous spirit extends to her words, travel and style
* How To Fail’s Elizabeth Day on the inevitability of failure and why vulnerability is the source of our connection

Karen Walker

Podcast

The BBC’s In Our Time presented by Melvyn Bragg, because it’s slow and deep and curious and pleasingly boring and yet completely compelling with such disparate topics that I’m always excited to see a new episode appear just to find out what they’ll be covering. With over 900 episodes there’s plenty there for the newcomer as well as the super-fan. Some of my favourite episodes include: The Evolution of Teeth; Longitude; Eclipses; Cave Art; George Sand; Lawrence of Arabia; The Rapture; Lorca; Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow; The Gin Craze; Politeness; The Alphabet.

Book

Katherine Mansfield’s stories, especially her big four: The Garden Party; At The Bay; Prelude; and, of course, The Doll’s House. “I seen the little lamp.” Just so good. Her rhythm and messages and characters are all astonishing and they’re stories that can (and should) be read again and again.

Fashion icon Karen Walker loves In Our Time from the BBC.

David White/Stuff

Fashion icon Karen Walker loves In Our Time from the BBC.

Keva Rands, designer of Papa Clothing

Podcast

Part of running a business for me is managing my schedule and mind to help stay on top of all the roles I have to play, especially as a sole operator. So a friend sent me an episode of Unf*ck Your Brain by Kara Loewentheil called How to Get S…. Done and it was quite a lightbulb moment for me. This episode is great for getting a handle of your work schedule and/or non-work related jobs using thought work and specific calendar techniques. Her other episodes explain how thought work works through hundreds of different situations like social anxiety and difficult relationship dynamics. If you can handle her addressing you as one of her “chickens” every episode then there is a lot of great stuff in there.

Book

There There by Cheyenne and Arapaho author Tommy Orange is my favourite book I’ve read recently. He tells multiple stories of Native American people living various lives at various ages and socioeconomic situations across Oakland. The narratives are all leading towards one event when everyone will cross paths in some way or another. The stories are beautiful and sad and stressful and heartwarming and the way he changes tenses quite seamlessly is clever and still easy to follow.

Keva Rands, designer of Papa Clothing, at her home in Auckland.

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Keva Rands, designer of Papa Clothing, at her home in Auckland.

Kate Sylvester

Podcast

I’ve just finished A Wish For Afghanistan, the BBC’s Lyse Doucet’s incredibly poignant series of interviews with Afghanis. It’s a very human insight into this incredibly complicated country.

Book

I’m currently reading The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. Both the memoir and its author are so elegant, eloquent and charming, I think I’m falling in love!

Juliette Hogan, Zoe Williams and Liam Bowden’s must reads.

Juliette Hogan, Zoe Williams and Liam Bowden’s must reads.

Juliette Hogan

Podcast

How to Fail With Elizabeth Day is like having two friends over and listening to them having a conversation about their journey to date. Failure isn’t failure. There is no failure except in no longer trying.

Book

There are so many! I have always loved Isabelle Allende’s The House of the Spirits – it’s beautifully written and I love its magical realism.

Fashion designer Juliette Hogan

Supplied

Fashion designer Juliette Hogan

Zoe Williams, designer of Zoe and Morgan

Podcast

I love podcasts, and my son Ace complains my ‘helpful’ insights are all life lessons learned through podcasts! I have a particular interest in neuroscience and personal growth, so Lacy Phillips’ To Be Magnetic podcast has weekly plays, and I dip in and out of a number of others. The Knowledge Project from Shane Parrish is also great.

Book

The Book of Joy was gifted to me by one of my staff members, Lilly, and I’m about to reread it. It’s basically conversations with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, they cover topics around obstacles and how to cultivate joy in daily practises. I think with the current world situations, worries around covid and global warming, it feels great to foster a strong sense of inner calm and joy.

Liam Bowden is the co-owner of leather accessories brand Deadly Ponies.

Supplied/Supplied

Liam Bowden is the co-owner of leather accessories brand Deadly Ponies.

Liam Bowden, designer of Deadly Ponies

Podcast

Life Uncut. The perfect podcast to have on while doing household chores – it feels like you’re just listening to two mates drinking and catching up on twisted dating stories and giving life advice.

Book

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. It’s a 14 volume series that I’m three books into. I always feel sad when I put down a book and will no longer have those characters in my life, so it’s good that I’ve got 14 books to get through this time.

Sarah-Jane Duff, Kathryn Wilson and Amy Lautogo’s must reads.

Sarah-Jane Duff, Kathryn Wilson and Amy Lautogo’s must reads.

Sarah-Jane Duff, designer of Lost and Led Astray

Podcast

Food Psych with Christy Harrison. An anti-diet dietitian, Christy is my go-to on how to factually dismantle fat phobia. Her work in intuitive eating, HAES (health at every size) and social justice is a huge inspiration for my social enterprise Fat Yoga NZ.

Book

The Swimmers by Chloe Lane. This book, I did not put down. The intense five days of Erin’s journey to assist in her terminally ill mother’s death was unexpectedly told with humour and humility. I was challenged and uncomfortable in the best kind of way. It was complicated, brutal, relatable and real.

Kathryn Wilson recommends Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight.

CAROLYN HASSLET/Woman

Kathryn Wilson recommends Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight.

Kathryn Wilson

Podcast

I enjoy The Business of Fashion podcasts discussing all topics relating to the industry from a global perspective. The latest episode, ‘transforming luxury’, challenged the future of luxury brands and how they can maintain relevance with digital experiences, and was really poignant to listen to with stores closed in lockdown.

Book

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight, is a great read around the challenges, failures and milestones of creating a product and a brand. A really relatable story from a brave entrepreneur!

Amy Lautogo, designer of Infamy Apparel

Podcast

SYGNYL. This podcast is a trip! It’s part mystical realism, guided meditation with historical allegories in an abstract context. It also has a really cool participatory aspect with codes and maps. Print these off before you go on holiday and get everyone around the table for this short series.

Book

Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies by Witi Ihimaera. I take a break from reading body sovereignty text over summer and revisit an absolute favourite from my childhood. It’s an immersive coming of age story set in Tairāwhiti with the kind of prose that makes you feel like you’re there! P.S. you’ll thank me when you read the Hockey segment. Laugh, cry and revel in how masterful Ihimaera is at his craft.

Gosia Piątek, Anjali Burnett and Ingrid Starnes’ must reads.

Gosia Piątek, Anjali Burnett and Ingrid Starnes’ must reads.

Gosia Piątek, designer of Kowtow

Podcast

I haven’t listened to many but definitely plan on doing so! I did listen to Dolly Parton’s America, I adore her voice and laugh. I love that she attracts such a broad crowd to her shows and is super philanthropic. It’s also lighthearted and I like the guy who interviews her.

Book

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, on how the climate crisis needs to spur transformational political change. This in combination with anything by Greta Thunberg and Noam Chomsky, a no-nonsense approach to the incapability of our governments and corporate greed.

Kowtow founder Gosia Piatek

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Kowtow founder Gosia Piatek

Anjali Burnett, co-founder of Twenty-seven Names

Podcast

Sentimental Garbage’s Sentimental in the City series. Deep diving into Sex and the City, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll start to imagine [hosts] Dolly and Caroline are your friends.

Book

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies – I lol lol lol’d my way through this titillating tale. Not for those who can’t get past the first-person narrative style, which I sadistically love.

Ingrid Starnes

Podcast

The Daily. I love these, and listen to them on my runs. The long Sunday reads are great especially, they take you to new places and new perspectives, with fantastic writing and production.

Book

Auē by Becky Manawatu, affecting and important, and Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman – an amazing book that challenges the common assumption that people are selfish and untrustworthy, and things are getting worse. It’s so nice to read something positive about the world!

Elisabeth Findlay, Kate Megaw and Sarah Cotteral’s must reads.

Elisabeth Findlay, Kate Megaw and Sarah Cotteral’s must reads.

Elisabeth Findlay, co-founder of Zambesi

Podcast

The last podcast I listened to was on the Missoni family. I was fascinated by the story behind this iconic brand because it is a family business.

Book

The Girl From Revolution Road by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh. This book resonated with me because I personally experienced feeling different and not knowing where I belonged for many years. Our family emigrated to New Zealand in 1951 on the Goya.

Elisabeth Findlay of Zambesi loves The Girl From Revolution Road by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh.

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Elisabeth Findlay of Zambesi loves The Girl From Revolution Road by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh.

Kate Megaw, designer of Penny Sage

Podcast

I find Desert Island Discs both relaxing and inspiring to listen to. I like to go back and listen to some of the really old recordings. Such an amazing archive, I love the insight it gives you into the interviewees. Also, great if you’re stuck in a Spotify loop and need to be reminded or introduced to something else.

Book

Madeleine Vionnet by Betty Kirke – a special gift from my Dad to encourage and inspire me when I was just starting out with my label. It covers the life and career of the late fashion designer, it’s visually beautiful and has a lot of technical information. It even includes mini patterns of some of her original designs. It has been a huge source of inspiration to me over the last 10 years; if I’m having a hopeless day in the studio I’ll look through it.

Sarah Cotteral, founder of Silk & Steel

Podcast

The Business of Fashion podcast is super inspiring on a global level, which I love listening to when out walking.

Book

Rememberings. An eye-opening memoir from iconic singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor.



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