Can you provide our fashion students with real world industry experience?

We are looking for industry and community organisations who can offer opportunities for students to gain valuable hands-on experience in aspects of the fashion industry. Examples could include design assistant, workroom assistant, patternmaking, garment construction, fashion communication & styling, events, retail, costume design etc.

  • Projects: Our students carry out applied and creative research projects for a variety of industry and community organisations as part of their learning, including a collaborative retail and production team project with local fashion retailers at year two of the Bachelor of Design (Fashion).
  • Work placements / internships: We expect our third year students to do a minimum of a week’s work in the industry. This is usually on a voluntary basis although some students have paid employment that will provide them with relevant industry experience while they study. Download our Work Placement Booklet here for more information.

The students will bring their own creativity, design and technical skills to contribute to your organisation, including their knowledge of sustainable business models in the fashion industry. You will be providing them with a learning opportunity supervised by an industry professional, to help them to gain the skills and experience that you as an employer need graduates to have.

Please contact us if you are interested in joining our portfolio of student-friendly fashion organisations.

A gem of an idea

Fashion student Sidney North was inspired by an Inca gemstone.

Third-year Bachelor of Design (Fashion) learner Sidney North describes the inspiration for her collection:

“The inspiration for this collection initially came from a gemstone known as the ‘Green Goddess of the Inca’, which was an emerald the size of an Ostrich egg kept in a temple in Colombia. My theme explores consumers’ obsession with shiny objects, false values placed on clothing and notions of preciousness – and how such notions can corrupt. As an easy example, think of how the Lord of the Rings character Gollum regarded the ring.”

To achieve this, Sidney created five garments with natural, feminine silhouettes. Choosing a base colour of tan and pink, “similar to my skin tone”, she hand-painted additional layers comprising five colours: red for ruby, white for pearl, green for emerald, purple for amethyst and orange for topaz. But the last, and most important design feature, are beads. These sit on top of the mesh fabric, creating a stark contrast to the muted dye and transparent mesh.

“The beads are rich, dense, and reflective. The beading is a direct allusion to gems and jewellery, and are intended as the focal point of the garments. The glamour of the beads distract the viewer from the simplicity of the garments’ silhouettes.”

Yet, as Sidney discovered, beading takes a lot of time – and a lot of beads.

“It was definitely challenging. The time it took was intense. I’d initially planned to create big spots of beads but, realising how time-consuming that would be, I opted to do fewer of those and introduced veins of beads, which actually make the garments more coherent. And although I feel I have created better garments in the past, that wasn’t the goal. The most important outcome was to go outside of my comfort zone.”

March 2023

Fitting fashion

Katie Mangai is designing comfortable and beautiful clothes for pregnant women.

Business women struggle to maintain a professional wardrobe during pregnancy. Maternity wear is designed for the average size woman at 7 months of pregnancy. Not only does that make it especially difficult for petite or plus-sized women to find something suitable, but the clothing can be both too loose at earlier stages of pregnancy and too tight later or if she is carrying twins. It is also expensive to buy clothes that are only going to be used for a short period of time.

Coming to her fashion studies after a business career Katie Mangai designed a range of maternity wear for her final year portfolio. Finding the right niche market is key to financial sustainability, and she decided pregnant women had a need that she could help meet. The challenge of designing maternity wear appealed to her, because women change shape and size during pregnancy. Katie wants her designs to enable women to be comfortable and confident about their professional image. 

Katie also participated in the Audacious student entrepreneurship programme and won the Firebrand Transformational Package for her business solution. Her online survey showed that women were happy to borrow maternity clothing from friends or relatives to compile a pregnancy wardrobe, so Katie developed a rental subscription plan. For a monthly fee women will be able to compile a capsule wardrobe with items that suit their style and palette from Katie's range of clothing. When they no longer fit well, they can exchange them for differently sized items. For the next stage of development of her business Luni Maternity, Katie is looking for test customers to give feedback on concept designs and sizing.

August 2022

Trade Aid

Our Design students have been helping those who are themselves helping others.

Trade Aid is a social enterprise that gives artisans around the world a hand up, not a hand out. Their supply chain ensures that the producers receive fair payment for their work. Trade Aid have been working with three teams of our Design students to identify and develop new and more effective ways to tell the stories of these producers.

  • One team reimagined price tags, seeing them as an opportunity to tell consumers more about where the product was made and by whom. One idea used the origami fortune teller game to entice greater user interaction and memories of childhood.
  • Another group of students came up with a world map rewards system and an idea for an online quiz game, which would result in donations to Trade Aid makers around the world.
  • The third group suggested a monthly zine, which could be used to promote local events as well as telling product and producer stories. These zines, which included a poster on the reverse, could be both educational and collectable items.

These ways of establishing connections between consumers and producers would complement and connect to the information already available on Trade Aid's website by using QR codes. Trade Aid appreciated the students' ideas and prototypes which will be considered for implementation.

March 2022

Nuku Collective

Two friends and design students are building connections within the creative sector.

Nuku Collective is based in Ōtepoti, Aotearoa and dedicated to showcasing local creatives through an online publication, aiming to foster connections, collaborations and conversations. Established by Zoe Hart (Communication Design) and Sofia Heke (Fashion Design), Nuku Collective provides an accessible, inclusive space for creatives to have their work showcased and stories told.

Nuku is bicultural and environmentally conscious. Nuku is a te reo Māori word; the verb means to move, shift or extend, and the noun means throughout, all over, through, the earth.

For us it represents our fluidity in form and function, we aim to create new spaces and new ways of interacting with creatives and their content. Nuku also meaning ‘the earth’ ties in with our strong values of Kaitiakitanga and treating Papatūānuku with aroha. 

The Nuku Collective website and Instagram account already exhibit the creative work of many artists and designers, using multimedia design-storytelling techniques to create all the content. As they collaborate with other creatives, Zoe and Sofia are building a community together. 

February 2022

"I did iD"

Teams of students from several different study areas supported this year's iD Fashion Week.

A team of four Fashion students worked as interns for the iD International Emerging Designer Awards. The Awards were held in Dunedin on 19 June, with 42 finalists from 16 different countries. Their internship includes graphic design work and co-ordinating designers and models. The students welcomed the opportunity to contribute to such a prestigious event and to see behind the scenes, and iD Fashion Week chairwoman Dr Margo Barton valued their involvement:

"iD would not be able to run without their contribution."

The Awards night was preceded on 18 June by a show of work by 27 Otago Polytechnic fashion students, called “The Awakening of Future Disruptors”. Culinary arts students provided catering for the student show and communication design students helped with branding, while beauty and hairdressing students looked after the models. Eight Applied Management students organised this event, including digital marketing, ticketing and sales, health and safety, budgetary constraints, sponsors and deadlines. Seeing the 'Fashion Fwd >> Disruption through Design’ exhibition at Otago Museum informed their thinking about mood. One of these students, Caitlin Kelly says:

"We have ended up going for an approach that is more of a central stage than a long runway and the models will enter and exit through the crowd at the Sargood Centre.”

Both shows were sold out. 

October 2021


In a collaboration with Newmarket Business Association, Fashion student Katharina Stapper enjoyed an eight-week internship with WORLD.

Katharina Stapper won the Intern-Scholarship in Partnership with the Newmarket Business Association and was selected from all candidates by WORLD Founder Dame Denise L'Estrange-Corbet. Her work stood out to WORLD as intelligent and with individuality. She spent her eight weeks working in our Workroom in central Auckland at the end of which she was offered the position of Retail Operations and Workroom Assistant, a role using her existing skills but also stretching her across a wider range of business and industry experiences.

Kat is a hard working problem solver and works in between the workroom and the WORLD stores. She facilitates the structural side of our retail business as well as working across clients needs including sample cutting and special order works. She is a pleasure to work with, a good sense of humour which you need at WORLD, and a keen eye for detail.

We have an intimate work environment where team members are asked to work across a variety of tasks and it takes the right kind of personality to fit in with us and be able to keep up with the mix of job types. Kat has been able to learn quickly and continue learning autonomously, being instinctive with a good concept of priorities. She has work at retail, on the pattern table, back stage of shows, on shoots and has spent a lot of time in the van or at the computer - hopefully it means her days have been interesting!

You can read Kat's internship blog here.


Working with our fashion students helps one local retailer keep up-to-date.

Neil Gaudin, of Dunedin store VOID, has been partnering with Otago Polytechnic fashion students for over 10 years. He is one of the fashion retailers who works with a small group of three to five second-year students for their retail and production project collaboration.

The students meet a retailer and then have to design clothes that would fit in that retail store, for its customers. The students do the whole process - designing, costing, and production - then present their products to the retailer.

Neil appreciates the opportunity for him to keep abreast of what the students are being taught and what they are thinking about design. This is also a way that he can support their development, giving them practical experience. 

"And who knows what may come of it? A couple of times I have ordered product they have made to sell at VOID."

iD Emerging Designers

Since 2003 iD Dunedin Fashion Week has included the iD International Emerging Designer Awards which is now the premier event.

Professor Margo Barton, Academic Leader for Fashion at Otago Polytechnic, is the current Chair of the iD Dunedin Fashion Week’s Executive Board and has been a committee member since 2001. She says Otago Polytechnic Fashion students are integral to managing the Awards successfully.

About 70 students are involved each year, doing all sorts of things. The first and second year students work backstage, dressing the models. They get to see the amazing clothes up close, designs from all around the world. Third and fourth year students are helping produce the event, including hosting international visitors to Dunedin. The students have conversations with these designers about their techniques and make valuable industry connections. Some exciting opportunities arise for the students out of these connections.