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Neil Benson Donald, Samples and Production Cutter

 All photos by Brendan Kitto

All photos by Brendan Kitto

"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."

I’m from Tirau. Mum and Dad lived down in Tirau so I kind of grew up til I was about 18 and left home. So I still call that home I suppose.

I left school and then got into a degree in Whanganui, a Bachelor of Fashion Design. It just got to the end of the school year when you’re supposed to make up your mind about what you want to do and I was weirdly enough quite good at sewing. So i thought I’d give it a go, and I started winning competitions and stuff like that.

Part of the degree was to do five weeks work experience. It was two weeks with Insidious Fix and then three weeks with Zambesi and I think they were heading over to London Fashion Week for the first time so they asked me to stay another week. Being a student, you always say yes.

Three months before I graduated they rang up and said that I had a job. So I moved up after graduating within a week. ‘C grade student gets good job, Fuck yeah!’ I was actually a C grade student.  

I tell people that I am a production cutter at a fashion company. I don’t really drop the fact that I work at Zambesi.

Neil Benson Donald1.jpg
Neil Benson Donald2.jpg

What happens is I get all the information from the production manager about how many units to cut, I then have to go and get the pattern and try and get the most economical use of the fabric that we’ve got, to the most efficient way. And then just cut it without cutting myself hopefully.

"It’s a bit of problem solving, maths, trial and error. It wasn’t something I thought I would enjoy but I really do quite enjoy it."

No day is the same, it’s constantly changing, there’s something different that pops up so it’s not stagnant and that’s quite a good way to be with the job.

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.

I work with Liz and Dayne about choosing fabrics, or they choose fabrics and you’ve got to problem solve. You start from the start and you see it go all the way to the end to when it’s on the fashion show, and you do feel proud. Not humbled, just proud.

Pamela Thornton, Sample Machinist

Dmitry Dymnov, Senior cutter