In her first year of Fashion Design at Otago Polytechnic, Sophie Stevens says she is constantly inspired by her talented lecturers and classmates.
“I have already learnt so much and I have only been here for a semester. The people in my class and lecturers are so talented, and the environment is so supportive and fun.
“I have learnt so much more about the fashion industry and what it really takes to succeed in this industry. I am continuing to gain skills and techniques with my constructing abilities and have learnt so much about the designing aspect of fashion.”
Also attracted to Otago Polytechnic because of Dunedin’s mix of city buzz and relaxed outdoor vibe, the Masterton-raised learner first visited the campus in 2016 as a year-12 high school student while en route to the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards in Gore with her teacher.
“I was shown around by Otago Polytechnic Head of fashion Margo Barton, who also looked through my portfolios, then invited me to apply for the Fashion Design course once I had completed year-13.
“My teacher highly recommended the Otago Polytechnic Fashion programme because she knows it is very ‘hands-on’ and that’s the way I personally learn best,” says Sophie, who has had a passion for fashion from a young age (her first word was “shoes”).
“I have always been into design and arts and have always excelled in painting, design and textiles rather than academic work throughout school because of my dyslexia. It was only once I started my fashion textiles class at St Mathews in Masterton that I started seeing a future career pathway.”
Sophie, who first entered the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards in 2015, is again heading to Gore for the latest event, to be held on 27-28 July.
“I love entering the awards and will continue to because of the challenge. There is such amazing talent at the awards. It makes me want to develop my designs further and strive for continual excellence.
“A lot of the time fabrics are what inspire my designs. I love beautiful and unusual fabrics, especially natural fibres — silk is my all-time favourite.
“I am always looking for combinations of graphic prints, plain and unusual colour combinations to spice up my love of basic silhouettes and shapes.
“My main priority is to look at proportions, shape, fit and then from there my fabric choices determine how I adapt and construct my pieces,” Sophie says.
“I will always be true to my designs and myself and I will be mindful of sustainability, which is why I will continue designing pieces that are timeless, classic and elegant so they can be worn for years."