Topic: Fashion

Kharl WiRepa first Māori designer to grace the pages of Vogue

By Leah Te Whata
  • Auckland
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
  • North Island: East Coast

Te Whānau ā Apanui fashion designer Kharl WiRepa is the first Māori to have his clothing line, Kharl WiRepa Fashion, featured in Vogue Magazine.

It's a dream come true for Kharl WiRepa, Māoridom’s first Vogue feature designer. It was this dress below that saw him rise to Vogue's top 22 'Designers of the Future.'

Kharl WiRepa says, "I saw the photo of my dress in the issue of Vogue and then it hit me, and then I realized that this is real."

From working in retail, through to New Zealand Fashion Week and now, Kharl WiRepa says his greatest achievement lies within his journey.

"It's been really quite pioneering and quite astounding the amount of dreams that we have been able to make come true through my own. That I think is the greatest achievement over Vogue, over Fashion Week and everything."

He says this achievement is an example of the global recognition being received by Māori and Polynesian designers.

"I see for the future that the Pacific will definitely have a huge influence on the modern world of the next generation of fashion."

In an exclusive interview with Te Kāea, the Te Whānau ā Apanui descendant revealed that his pool of inspiration begins with fond memories of his grandmother.

"I remember as a child when I used to watch my nana and her friends go to church and they'd put on their white heels and their pearls and all their beautiful clothing for church. I always used to be inspired by that."

The Vogue September issue is the holy grail of fashion. Its release marks the end of Fashion Week and the beginning of a new fashion season. New Zealand Fashion Week kicks off tonight.