How will the closure of Charles Parsons affect local designers?

May 25, 2018

How will the closure of Charles Parsons affect local designers?

Cris Roberts, the designer of Pearl, says the closure of Charles Parsons will leave her struggling to afford diverse colours of silk. Photo: Zoe Madden-Smith.

New Zealand designers say shoppers will start to see less variation in clothing because one of the country’s largest fabric wholesalers, Charles Parsons, is quitting the industry.

The Australian-based family business announced it will be closing down its fashion division in December and will shift their focus to furniture textiles.

Pearl designer Cris Roberts has sourced fabric from Charles Parsons since she started her business 15 years ago.

Ms Roberts says the lack of colour choice for silk will drastically affect her business.

“The only thing for me is that their choice is not there now. See Hawes & Freer may only offer five colours, Charles Parsons offers 25 colours.”

“We are going to be limited to what we can get from people who can still afford to make it.”

Ms Roberts says small businesses like hers don’t have freedom to source offshore since they don’t need and can’t afford the large quantities they must order.

“To ensure you are getting quality material you have to buy [at least] 300m and pay for it in advance. Well basically I only buy 35m a colour so I just can't justify it,” she says.

Moochi Director Kellie Taylor says the biggest setback of the closure will be the discontinuation of cloth they’ve bought from Charles Parsons for the past 10 years.

Moochi will now have to source their cloth from local agents, offshore mills, and in some cases have it woven or knitted for them.

“It’s always risky when it comes to new fabrics, so we’ll be continuously retesting which will take more time and resources,” says Ms Taylor.

Despite Moochi being a larger business than Pearl, Ms Taylor says the closure will also limit their choice and therefore limit their customers’ choice to.

“Designers prefer their fabrications to be unique and with this closure the variety of fabrication is reduced.”

Julliette Hogan’s brand and communications manager Lucy Slater says because of the scale of their label they won’t be affected as much as smaller businesses.

“We are lucky that our business is of a size that we are able to have fabrics and prints developed exclusively for us.

“I really feel for the up-and-coming designers and startups who will no longer have such a large local fabric resource.”

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