NZFT Grads: Jimmie MacKay

We caught up with creative heart, Jimmie MacKay, for a bit of insight into his latest experience with Miromoda. For those that haven’t heard of the showcase before, Miromoda is a competition that was founded in 2008 to help in the development of Maori fashion designers in New Zealand. This year, 10 designers were picked to feature at New Zealand Fashion Week, our graduate, Jimmie, was one.

Now considered an established designer in the show having competed last year as well, Jimmie is a rising star in the New Zealand fashion industry and his label, jimi, is definitely one to watch. A testament to hard work paying off, we can’t wait to see his final looks fire up the runway. Tickets are selling fast to the Miromoda showcase so if you want to get amongst, click here to secure a ticket STAT. Scroll down for Jimmie’s full story.


Tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi (wave emoji). I am currently living in the beautiful Hawkes Bay. I work as a funeral director by day and a clothing designer by night. My label is ‘jimi’ after myself and an acronym for ‘jump inside my imagination’. I design clothing for people who appreciate unique pieces crafted for everyday wear.

When did your interest in fashion start?

I’ve always enjoyed fashion. Most of my fashion inspiration comes from my upbringing. I was raised on a farm in the middle of nowhere (no cell phones or internet. We only had channels one and two). All the clothing we had was very practical (my clothing always needs to be functional).

In the mornings and after school I would go to my grandmother’s house where we would tell stories and drink tea. My grandmother was a very glamorous woman who would always be “dressed to the nines”. She would always have a full face of make up and an up do (rare for women in the middle of nowhere). I admired her style and her amazing wardrobe of pieces, I still find them intriguing to this day. From her I learnt most of the fundamentals of fashion.

What I love most about fashion is the fantasy. I love the ability to transform from one thing to another. I am the type of person who would change every time I entered a room just for the fun of it. An example of this is work. I am a funeral director, so by day I dress in a suit and tie and when I go home I completely disconnect from my work life the minute I take the suit off.


Tell us about your recent experience with Miromoda?

This is my second year doing Miromoda. Last year I was chosen by the panel of judges to showcase my range alongside other emerging designers in the Miromoda runway show at NZFW. Designers were selected to come down to Porirua and present their collections in front of a panel made up of Dame Pieter Stewart (founder of New Zealand Fashion Week), NZFW Event Manager Janey Evett and Lucire fashion magazine publisher, Jak Yan.

Models were selected for each designer, hair and makeup was done by a team of make up artists and once completed, the designer then dressed their models for a photoshoot and judging. Once called into the presentation room, each designer explained their design concepts and answered any questions the panel had. The successful designers that are selected, take part in a Miromoda preview show (one outfit) alongside established NZ designers and then again at NZFW.   


What’s your creative process for developing your collection for Miromoda?

My creative process is quite basic, and I am my own muse so that takes a lot of stress out of the process. I always have a list of things I am trying to find (either something I’ve seen or created in my head). So I will go with my instinct and spend a few weeks travelling around finding fabrics and trims that will work with the idea in my mind and that will also work together for the overall look. Once I have what I need I will then start making the looks.

I work with a seamstress to create the perfect fit. If any garments are not working or don’t look how I had imagined, we will collectively decide whether to scrap the idea or tweak the garments further. This stage is probably the most important because the final tweaks of the first few looks really establish the overall mood of the collection.

What’s the inspiration of your Miromoda collection?

Last year I went with an all-black (not rugby) theme which I loved however I felt it didn’t demand presence on the runway so this year I have gone for a very colourful collection.

For this collection I have gone with a theme of nothing matches but at the same time, it all goes together. A disconnected collection of pieces that can be paired together unconventionally. 

I design for those who dress for fun, fashion should be fun! While this collection is about fun I also have some very diverse garments, so things can be worn to almost any occasion, it’s just how you style it. No idea? Good! It makes no sense and that’s how I want this collection to be.


Why did you choose to study at NZ Fashion Tech? 

I chose NZ Fashion Tech because it was located conveniently, and it offered a good range of practical skills. I had not used a sewing machine before I started at NZFT and I think through studying, I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to create.

I am not the best sewer, I have the help of a seamstress for that (I still sew I just don’t claim to be the best) but I have the ability to select fabrics, create eye catching designs and the ability to style my pieces exceptionally well. I’m a Virgo so Ill take the longest road to my destination if need be. With the confidence gained I think I was able to see where my strengths and weaknesses are which has guided me to where I am now.


How would you describe your own personal style?

My style is very casual. I like wearing natural fibres and I enjoy layering upon layering. I’m more of a textures person than a logo or print person. I like to wear darker tones and I prefer garments that are classic such as 501s, old skool vans and a plain t.  


Images supplied

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