AUCKLAND, Today: Writer Rebecca Wadey and former ed-in-chief of FQ & Simply You Zoe Walker Ahwa have launched Ensemble, a new online fashion, beauty and lifestyle website in competition to the traditional high-gloss magazine model.
The site is fully independent, and self-funded. “We went live during lockdown in Auckland, which was an interesting experience to say the least.,” Ahwa said.
“We are supported by 13 of the country’s leading fashion designers who have pledged support (including special discounts) to our members programme.
“We are incredibly thrilled with how the site has been received.
“It wasn’t our intention to launch during a level three lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau. Working in an industry that’s notoriously risk-averse, we knew what we were planning was wild. But not that wild.
“We’d been working on Ensemble since lockdown number one. Zoe had lost her job, and I had taken six months off the hamster wheel to live in the Coromandel.
“It became increasingly obvious to both of us that if we ever wanted to work again (or at least do meaningful work) we’d need to make it happen for ourselves.
“For a while, I vaguely toyed with buying Fashion Quarterly, but Zoe wasn’t interested in resurrecting that dinosaur. And it was obvious that even if we got it for a song, the costs involved in running it would be prohibitive.
“Fashion has long been a club of the white elite.”
“The more we examined the model of traditional fashion and lifestyle media and its years’ long reliance on brand advertising, the more turned off by it we became. It was exciting to look at everything we knew, dismantle it and put it back together on our own terms.
“We were also struck by the lack of diverse faces, bodies and voices.
“Fashion has long been a club of the white elite. There are few Māori and Pasifika journalists, stylists and photographers working within the industry and for good reason – ignored for so long, why would you bother fighting for it?
“We remained convinced there was an audience for intelligent, female-led conversations that were truly inclusive. We wanted to be opinionated, stick up for things we believed in and create space for everyone in an industry that had always been very exclusionary.”
“Thirteen of the country’s leading fashion brands have pledged support via a roster of discounted shopping nights, VIP access and other fun perks. If you’re a keen shopper and a supporter of shopping local, you’ll make your investment back and then some.
“We also have a calendar of events and parties of our own to bring to the table, lockdown restrictions dependent. Think movie screenings, in-conversations, tree plantings, book clubs and more.
“Each of our 13 designers has promised at least one discount shopping night, with a minimum discount of 10% across a 12 month period, as well as an experiential brand VIP event.”
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