In conversation with Natalie Proctor, designer and owner of Mina
Meet the new designers shaking up New Zealand’s fashion scene from afar.
Each designer within this interview series is a multidisciplinary artist, maker and non-compromising force of creative resistance. At a time of socio-political uncertainty we are inspired by their journey, knowledge and understanding of the future. It reminds us to trust your art and believe in your values.
Hidden away above K Road lies Natalie Proctors, ‘Mina’ showroom. The down to earth and accomplished designer will be debuting at NZFW this year, showcasing her Autumn / Winter 2020 collection, named ‘Walking the Bushveld’.
‘Minas’ modern, simple and refined pieces have been turning heads in New Zealand. Designer Natalie launched Mina after an ethical fashion trip to India where she was exposed to an unfamiliar and overwhelming side to the fashion industry. Proctor's design ethos of sustainability, investment and thoughtfulness are seeing ‘Mina For Her’ making important and major tracks.
Tell us a bit about your background prior to launching your label?
Well I grew up in Auckland but moved to Wellington for University where I studied fashion Design at Massey University. I grew up in a very creative environment, I inherited mums creative hands so grew up spending my weekends learning to sew, scrapbooking, paper macheing, mosaic’s, oh all sorts!! I was one of the art’s kids at school who took all the creative papers and spent my lunch times in the artblock working on my NCEA art boards. But, I was also a rower and dancer so I was a mixed bag at school really.
After highschool I went to Cambodia for 2 months and worked in a children's orphanage outside of Siem Reap. I think it changed my life a little, put very simply. I came back with a very different outlook on life and I think the way I choose to run my business really stems from that experience. Since that trip I continued to travel, volunteer and learn and it wasn't till after my trip to India post finishing my fashion degree that I decided to start Mina. I came back from India a bit angry at the industry I think which is why I never chose to go work for a big brand. I interned with some smaller labels while working a part time job for a year until I kind of fell into an opportunity to run a shared space on K Road. Now here we are, I work full time for myself and manage a shared space that I also work out of.
And we love what you do and create! So, did you always want to be a designer?
No not really! I actually went to Uni initially to study photography and then changed majors in year 2. I remember I really wanted to travel and do photo journals for National Geographic as a job. I also wanted to go work for an NGO somewhere in Africa. So becoming a fashion designer was definitely a change in career path for me. My head is always thinking of directions I would like to take the brand to bring in these passions of mine but baby steps first right. Starting a fashion label is not easy.
So true! How would you define your overall aesthetic?
Understated and ageless, and designed with intention. Mina plays between femininity and contemporary with soft tailoring and clean lines. It is up to the wearer to embody the garment with elegance or contemporary cool.
What's the concept behind the show and what can we expect in terms of the setting, music, and casting
I really wanted the show to embody the brand and also myself as a designer. I have a love for cooking and have always seen a beautiful relationship between good nourishing food and a consciously made garment. With this, I have partnered up with pared back and honest cafe/restaurant Orphans Kitchen to host a two course breakfast and intimate show of 30 guests.
The breakfast is a thank you to all my retailers, media and stylists who have supported me on my journey so far.
The collection I am presenting is called ‘Walking the Bushveld’ and is influenced by a recent trip to South Africa to see family and my Oumie (Wilhemina, where Mina springs from) . A family friend of mine who has also spent a lot of time in South Africa is mixing my music for me so you can expect to hear a slightly african inspired soundtrack.
I am also very excited about my model selection as some of the ladies walking for me are women who are customers or friends I have met in the industry. Mina is all about ageless design and this will be reflected in my choice of models walking.
Is it sometimes challenging to listen to your instinct in an increasingly chaotic industry?
Hmm yes.. Especially being a young brand. Each season I gain more confidence in myself and my own decisions and I think that’s what will keep the brand genuine and honest. There’s so much talent out there and so many designers doing amazing things it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on out there.
How do you envision the future of fashion
I see the future of fashion being way more transparent. The new generations are expecting this more and more. I think consumers need to understand the supply chains, understand all the people involved in producing that one garment. I hope sustainability is no longer a buzz word but just just a standard part of business.