Otago Polytechnic graduates Ellen Ross and Ethan Cruise are busy applying the final touches to their garments as they prepare for the iD International Emerging Designer Awards 2023.

The duo are among 30 finalists, who hail from 33 fashion schools across 14 countries.

 Over the years, hundreds of designers from around the world have submitted their designs to be part of Australasia's only international emerging designer competition.

The Emerging Designer Awards selection panel includes three of New Zealand’s leading fashion designers – Tanya Carlson, Charmaine Reveley, and Tara Viggo. 

Viggo, herself a finalist in the first Emerging Designer Awards in 2005, says involvement in the event can be a huge turning point for a graduate.

“My own career took wing, partly due to the confidence I gained, but also because my collection was presented in front of some of the industry’s key people.”

Ellen, who graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Design (Fashion) at Otago Polytechnic last year, agrees that her selection as a finalist is a fantastic opportunity.

“I feel really lucky to be finalist, and I still find it amazing that I have been chosen out of so many applicants! 

“It will be fantastic to gain exposure within the fashion industry, whilst also meeting some of New Zealand’s most renowned designers. 

“It is a really special moment and I feel privileged to be a part of such an iconic Dunedin event. I would definitely regard iD as a stepping stone.”

Ellen describes her Emerging Designers collection as a commercial capsule that will appeal to those who take a thoughtful approach to building their wardrobe. 

“Boxy silhouettes are formed through a play between line and volume, taking inspiration from natural and manmade landscapes, a contrast between control and free movement.”

Sustainability is at the core of the collection, which uses natural and upcycled fibres, while presenting designs that offer both quality and longevity, “creating garments that will be timeless and cherished”.

Looking beyond the excitement of iD, Ellen is beginning to build and launch her clothing brand, Nelle.

“It’s a busy and exciting time, navigating the world of commercial fashion. Taking your creations and turning them into a money maker is no easy task, but it’s always been my dream, so I am determined to make it work.”

Otago Polytechnic’s other Emerging Awards finalist, Ethan describes his selection as a milestone.

“Since I started my studies in 2019 I’ve always dreamt of showcasing my work at ID. Having the opportunity for the 2023 design awards is a really special feeling. It’s an indicator to me that I’m doing something right.”

Ethan says his Emerging Designer collection comprises dark, heavy fabrics adorned with layers of textile embellishment.

“I think this is a stepping stone as I’m always looking to the next thing and never really settle for the project I’ve just completed.”

Having started a brand, Imperfect Creatures, with close friend Molly Waters in November 2020, Ethan is currently working on a number of projects for his brand, Imperfect Creatures.

“I take a slower approach to fashion by making garments with extensive detailing and customisation, and focusing on quality over quantity. 

“I plan to roll out a line of jewellery designed and prototyped in Dunedin over the next few months, as well as an embroidered trucker hat. I have plans to release a full collection at the end of the year.”

The Emerging Designer collections will appear in the second half of the iD Dunedin Fashion Show, on Friday 31 March and Saturday 1 April.

More info on the Emerging Designer Awards finalists can be found here

Published on 28 Mar 2023

Orderdate: 28 Mar 2023
Expiry: 28 Mar 2025