AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Geographically isolated from most of the rest of the world, New Zealand has a small yet innovative fashion industry that is struggling for international trade and recognition.
Remote sourcing and supply chains make it difficult to estimate the overall value of the industry. Although New Zealand’s apparel exports grew by 8 percent over the 2000-to-2009 period, they have come off their 2007 peak. Last year, they came in at 226 million New Zealand dollars, or $166 million at current exchange, down 5.4 percent from 2008.
So far this year, New Zealand’s apparel exports in the January-to-August period have risen 5 percent to 162.4 million New Zealand dollars, or $122.1 million, according to figures from Statistics New Zealand. Australia remains the largest apparel-export market, with 87 percent of apparel headed across the Tasman Sea. The U.S. and the United Kingdom are a distant second and third place at 2.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.
But these export amounts are thought to represent less than 30 percent of New Zealand brands’ international sales, explained Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ) executive officer Mapihi Opai. Due to a lack of local apparel manufacturers on the islands, companies produce the majority of their apparel offshore and export it directly from their third-party manufacturers. High shipping costs discourage New Zealand fashion companies from shipping unfinished or finished goods back to the country before exporting them as final products.
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