Designer on keeping clothes and lives sustainable during a pandemic

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Sustainable fashion designer and creative director of Tonic and Cloth, Jodie Woods prepares garments for 2021 NZ Fashion Week.


Sustainable fashion designerJodie Woods is the creative director of Tonic and Cloth and prepares clothes for 2021 NZ Fashion Week.

Three years after her debut at fashion week, a Manawatū designerSustainable is back as a success story fashion.

Jodie Woods, 41 years old, graduated from designing clothes in a caravan in Feilding, to owning her own shop for her label Tonic and Cloth, in Palmerston North.

She will display one of her collections at a sustainability event show at next week’s NZ Fashion Week in Auckland.

“Fashion week is going to be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle,”She said. “For me, it’ll be working with what we have in stock, grabbing size 10 jeans and cutting them to fit the models.”

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Woods said her Holi Boli makers were currently in lockdown, which meant her collection this year would be “a bit of a jigsaw puzzle”.


Woods said that her Holi Boli Makers were currently locked down, which meant that her collection this year wouldn’t be available. “a bit of a jigsaw puzzle”.

With the help and guidance of a mentor and a friend, she purchased a store. Her production increased, which allowed Holi Boli’s makers in rural India to get more work.


She said despite the pandemic, she hadn’t compromised her commitment to sustainability, just made some adjustments.

Woods relied on her sewing skills and the few New Zealand makers for the preparation of the project. show. She has enough money to continue paying Holi Boli employees the amount they would have earned if not for the pandemic.

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It was her way of giving a wage subsidy. She didn’t consider it a charitable act. It was an investment in their future.

Kiwi Ana Wilkinson-Gee runs a sewing school and a bespoke clothing company called Holi Boli in India. Photo from 2018.


Kiwi Ana Wilkinson Gee is a sewist and runs Holi Boli, an Indian bespoke clothing company. Photo from 2018.

Opening a store had never been Woods’ intention. Woods had always wanted to sell her clothes online, but she was unable to do so for several months after she launched a website. fashionWeek “all I heard was bird chirping”.

“It was devastating.”

It was a fundraiser in the evening. fashion showFeilding, where many people bought her clothes, was a great place for her to realize that people wanted to touch the clothing before purchasing.

“People need to feel the fabric, try things on… if you’re completely new to online shopping, you don’t trust that the size and shape would be right.”

Woods was proud of being a partner with Holi Boli, as it paid workers a living wages. But India and other nations were “in and out of lockdown”This meant that all foreign-labored designers had to adapt.

“You can’t rely on seasons any more. Everything we send them to do needs to be trans-seasonal.”

She was proud of the way that Holi Boli’s growth was reflected in her company, and said it was an example for other brands.

“When I started working with them, there were six makers and they were working on treadle machines because they didn’t have a generator… now they have reliable power and 21 makers.”

Some people don’t think you can be a profitable business and sustainable at the same time, but that’s not my experience… the gamble used to be, ‘what if I don’t sell my clothes, will I have to wear these every day for the rest of my life?’. Now the gamble is if I run out too quickly,” she said.

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She said that fashionShe believed that business could transform lives and she wanted people who were interested to see this.

“Makers should be able to work for a living wage. To do that you have to stay profitable, but it’s possible.”

NZ Fashion Week runs August 23-29. Woods will be showing her collection during Wednesday’s ‘Building Brands for a Better Future’session.

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