Fashion forward

Cotton dresses and possum merino cardigans from Reremoana's range.
Polyurethane-coated linen tops.
DESIGNER’S EYE: Fashion designer Reremoana Sheridan (left) looks at the collision of two cultures in her debut collection Life’s Blood. Driven by a desire to create ethically and environmentally-sound garments, Life’s Blood features largely natural fibre garments. Charlotte Tatana models the clothes.

FASHION and the army — two worlds that rarely collide, unless you’re Reremoana Sheridan, the Gisborne woman who has swung between the two for almost a decade.

“I started studying fashion at Massey University straight out of school but I just couldn’t handle being really poor,” says the 28-year-old former Gisborne Girls’ High School student.

After working for a while, the future fashion designer turned to the army.

“I was 20, I spent the summer doing what you do in Gisborne and then just went to the army on a whim,” she says.

A year later, Sheridan had her son. Working in the army didn’t work well with raising a child so Sheridan went back to university, this time studying fashion at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Napier.

“It was actually the first year they offered the course here (in Gisborne) but I chose to do it in Napier because I knew it was a lot more established,” she says.

Sheridan enjoyed the course but with another hungry mouth to feed and bills to pay, she headed back to the army for a full- time salary.

Her desire to create however could not be quelled. So on February 29 of this year, Sheridan put away her army uniform once more and started fashion label Rere.moana.

“Working for a government agency is so far from who I am — I just knew it was time to do what I am supposed to do,” she says.

First year

Sherdian’s first year in fashion has flourished thanks to that conviction.

At the start of this year she entered the annual Miromoda fashion competition held at the Pataka Arts & Cultural Museum in Porirua.

“It was a last-minute entry but it’s a competition I’ve always wanted to enter,” says Sheridan.

The competition is judged by New Zealand fashion week founder Dame Pieter Stewart, iconic designer Adrian Hailwood and fashion publisher Jack Yan.

While Sheridan didn’t place, she was awarded merit for her entry and given the opportunity to show alongside nine other Miromoda designers at New Zealand Fashion Week.

“The competition was my first indication from anyone that what I was doing was the right thing,” she says.

Thrilled with the opportunity to showcase her work to the country, an ambitious Sherdian prepared eight complete looks for the event.

“Normally only established designers are allowed to show eight (looks) but I emailed them and said, ‘can I show more?’ ”

Impressed by her gumption, the Miromoda team agreed and gave her the opening spot in the showcase.

“It was something about me doing more work than I needed to,” she says.

The experience of showing at fashion week was both nerve-racking and inspiring for Sheridan.

“It was really overwhelming but exciting because effectively you’re putting yourself out there in such a huge way,” she says.

The ideas behind it

When Sheridan speaks about putting herself out there, she is not just referring to her creative work but the ideas that go behind it.

Her debut collection, titled Life’s Blood, takes a look at the development of Maori fashion through colonisation.

The collection was showcased at the opening of the Paul Nache Gallery Wa Hine Exhibition earlier this month.

“It’s about what happens when two cultures come together,” she says, noting the use of colonial cuts on muted earthy hues, topped with distinctively Maori harakeke-style hats.

“I wanted to link all of the looks together almost like a timeline,” she says.

But there’s also a personal theme.

“Growing up I was called Plastic Maori,” says Sheridan.

“It’s generally a term linked to Maori who don’t have the reo or Maori who don’t know much about their whakapapa.

“People throw it around like it doesn’t really matter but it used to really affect me.”

Now comfortable in her own skin, Sheridan decided to incorporate the term into her collection, with a striking polyurethane-coated linen shirt dress.

“I brought this into the collection because it is 100 percent natural fibre but from the outside, because of the coating, it appears plastic,” she says.

“The underlying message is that everything links to our blood that runs through our veins — that’s what makes us who we are. It’s not how people perceive us from the outside.”

Playing off this theme, Sheridan employs largely natural fabrics (except for the use of polyurethane coating) — think linen rompers, cotton dresses and baby soft possum merino cardigans.

Natural fibres

The choice of largely natural fibres is also indicative of Sheridan’s production philosophy.

“My workroom in Palmerston North is called The Slow Trade. It’s kind of my vision for the brand — slow fashion as opposed to fast fashion, standing up for quality and New Zealand-made.

“It’s about the effects the industry has on the environment plus the ethics side — the (fast fashion) industry is terrible.”

Personally Sheridan only buys second-hand or wears clothes made by friends, and she aims to keep Rere.moana in New Zealand, with a strong focus on environmentally and ethically sound production.

“I want my business to be really whanau-orientated and I really want to target solo mums,” she says.

“Personally, I found it really hard to find a job that worked with my situation — the army didn’t work, the salary was great but it required more of me than I wanted to give because I have my son Kahurere to support.

“I would really like to create an environment that props solo mums up and allows them to work. This is my dream, down the track — my vision.”

FASHION and the army — two worlds that rarely collide, unless you’re Reremoana Sheridan, the Gisborne woman who has swung between the two for almost a decade.

“I started studying fashion at Massey University straight out of school but I just couldn’t handle being really poor,” says the 28-year-old former Gisborne Girls’ High School student.

After working for a while, the future fashion designer turned to the army.

“I was 20, I spent the summer doing what you do in Gisborne and then just went to the army on a whim,” she says.

A year later, Sheridan had her son. Working in the army didn’t work well with raising a child so Sheridan went back to university, this time studying fashion at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Napier.

“It was actually the first year they offered the course here (in Gisborne) but I chose to do it in Napier because I knew it was a lot more established,” she says.

Sheridan enjoyed the course but with another hungry mouth to feed and bills to pay, she headed back to the army for a full- time salary.

Her desire to create however could not be quelled. So on February 29 of this year, Sheridan put away her army uniform once more and started fashion label Rere.moana.

“Working for a government agency is so far from who I am — I just knew it was time to do what I am supposed to do,” she says.

First year

Sherdian’s first year in fashion has flourished thanks to that conviction.

At the start of this year she entered the annual Miromoda fashion competition held at the Pataka Arts & Cultural Museum in Porirua.

“It was a last-minute entry but it’s a competition I’ve always wanted to enter,” says Sheridan.

The competition is judged by New Zealand fashion week founder Dame Pieter Stewart, iconic designer Adrian Hailwood and fashion publisher Jack Yan.

While Sheridan didn’t place, she was awarded merit for her entry and given the opportunity to show alongside nine other Miromoda designers at New Zealand Fashion Week.

“The competition was my first indication from anyone that what I was doing was the right thing,” she says.

Thrilled with the opportunity to showcase her work to the country, an ambitious Sherdian prepared eight complete looks for the event.

“Normally only established designers are allowed to show eight (looks) but I emailed them and said, ‘can I show more?’ ”

Impressed by her gumption, the Miromoda team agreed and gave her the opening spot in the showcase.

“It was something about me doing more work than I needed to,” she says.

The experience of showing at fashion week was both nerve-racking and inspiring for Sheridan.

“It was really overwhelming but exciting because effectively you’re putting yourself out there in such a huge way,” she says.

The ideas behind it

When Sheridan speaks about putting herself out there, she is not just referring to her creative work but the ideas that go behind it.

Her debut collection, titled Life’s Blood, takes a look at the development of Maori fashion through colonisation.

The collection was showcased at the opening of the Paul Nache Gallery Wa Hine Exhibition earlier this month.

“It’s about what happens when two cultures come together,” she says, noting the use of colonial cuts on muted earthy hues, topped with distinctively Maori harakeke-style hats.

“I wanted to link all of the looks together almost like a timeline,” she says.

But there’s also a personal theme.

“Growing up I was called Plastic Maori,” says Sheridan.

“It’s generally a term linked to Maori who don’t have the reo or Maori who don’t know much about their whakapapa.

“People throw it around like it doesn’t really matter but it used to really affect me.”

Now comfortable in her own skin, Sheridan decided to incorporate the term into her collection, with a striking polyurethane-coated linen shirt dress.

“I brought this into the collection because it is 100 percent natural fibre but from the outside, because of the coating, it appears plastic,” she says.

“The underlying message is that everything links to our blood that runs through our veins — that’s what makes us who we are. It’s not how people perceive us from the outside.”

Playing off this theme, Sheridan employs largely natural fabrics (except for the use of polyurethane coating) — think linen rompers, cotton dresses and baby soft possum merino cardigans.

Natural fibres

The choice of largely natural fibres is also indicative of Sheridan’s production philosophy.

“My workroom in Palmerston North is called The Slow Trade. It’s kind of my vision for the brand — slow fashion as opposed to fast fashion, standing up for quality and New Zealand-made.

“It’s about the effects the industry has on the environment plus the ethics side — the (fast fashion) industry is terrible.”

Personally Sheridan only buys second-hand or wears clothes made by friends, and she aims to keep Rere.moana in New Zealand, with a strong focus on environmentally and ethically sound production.

“I want my business to be really whanau-orientated and I really want to target solo mums,” she says.

“Personally, I found it really hard to find a job that worked with my situation — the army didn’t work, the salary was great but it required more of me than I wanted to give because I have my son Kahurere to support.

“I would really like to create an environment that props solo mums up and allows them to work. This is my dream, down the track — my vision.”

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