The stories of the people behind the garments you'll find hanging in a Zambesi store begin in places as far off as Greece, Russia, Malaysia and Ukraine and as near as Whanganui and Tirau. Their lives and skills all intertwine at the Auckland Zambesi workroom. Their collective artistry, expertise and passion for quality help keep Zambesi clothes proudly made in NZ.
“My passport said ‘Stateless’. I realised that was refugee status, that you didn’t belong anywhere, and that was why I was a refugee.”
"The company’s philosophy is to still make things here, and that’s good. Personally for me, because that means employment, and also to utilise these skills."
Designer / Womenswear Pattern Maker
"It is a beautiful country, honestly, compared to Russia. I remember hearing a gun and always being scared, it’s pretty dangerous and a few of my friends were killed."
"I do everything here, jackets, men’s pants, ladies pants, everything, I do everything. I just do my job and then I’m happy, I don’t think too much about it."
"I’m from Malaysia. I came to New Zealand in 1990. The first time, it was for a holiday, and then I thought, this is a nice place with nice people here. So I thought I would see what will happen."
"It’s not my style to make something easy and fast. I prefer harder, and nice finishing, so you can see it and think, 'Wow'."
"I don’t think there are many places that actually train machinists. Which I think is a real shame, otherwise it’s going to be a dying art."
Neil Benson Donald
"There’s a lot of hard work that goes into a garment, it’s all about quality really, it’s the stuff that you can’t see. The cloth, and the quality and the time that goes behind it, people just overlook that these days."
The majority of Zambesi garments are made in NZ - samples and particular items are made in their workroom, and then their trusted outworkers throughout NZ help them complete production.
The only items not made in NZ have been a small number of beaded pieces from previous collections. These were assembled in India. Their current A/W 2018 collection, for example, is entirely made in NZ.