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Southern colour

1 June 2023

A stalwart of the South Island fashion industry for two decades, Natalie Newlands
continues to celebrate this very special part of the world – including its stunning
natural palette – from her current base in Arrowtown.

Words Josie Steenhart

With Central Otago’s famous fall hues currently in their full glory of greens, golds and tussocky tones, local fashion designer Natalie Newlands of label New Lands has paid sartorial tribute to the region via a collaborative collection with Cloudy Bay, to be worn by the celebrated winery’s staff.

“We designed a stunning topographic print using the winery’s new colour palette,” says the designer from her Arrowtown base, “which beautifully reflects the contours of the land the vineyards are planted on in both Central Otago and Marlborough.”

Grape-green trousers and a pleated midi skirt and silk scarf in the striking signature print form the focal points of the range, which can be paired with either a crew sweater, knit t-shirt or cardigan in 100 percent organic combed cotton in a hue she calls “Cloudy Bay wheat beige”.

“There are several options allowing a variety of looks, at all times highlighting the topographic print to retain a connection to the land,” says Natalie.
“Where possible we used natural and breathable fibres and trims and details were carefully selected, while the distinctive seasons and climates of the Marlborough and Cromwell regions were taken into consideration throughout the design process.”

Having grown up on a farm in Oamaru, Natalie has largely continued her career from the South Island, gaining a BA in Fashion at Otago Polytechnic before working with Margi Robertson at iconic Dunedin label NOM*d for five years, and in 2012 purchased Queenstown boutique Angel Divine (which she sold in September 2020).

“During this time I also started New Lands Studio, as I saw a gap in the market and a calling to be at the helm of my own creative endeavours.”

Now living and working out of Arrowtown, Natalie says that while the area definitely serves up plenty of inspiration and is a great spot to raise family, when it comes to running a fashion business, “for us the geographic location doesn’t matter”.

“Technology makes it so easy and so efficient. Also Queenstown airport is super close so it’s really easy to travel.
“I love the nature here, it serves me far greater than a city on an energetic level.”
“It has really strong seasons, stunning summers and pretty chilly winters, and the autumn seasonal colours never get old. There’s a lovely community here of long-time locals. I love the ease of everything being so close and spending a lot of time with my boys down at the river, getting back to nature and the simplicity of wholesome living.

“I grew up rurally on a farm, I love the farm life, it was such a wholesome childhood. I’m the youngest of four. The work ethic of growing up on a farm has supported my drive as an adult.”
And it wasn’t only a solid work ethic Oamaru provided, but a starting point for Natalie’s love of fashion, clothing and design.

“Mum and dad always let me wear whatever I wanted, so this freedom of expression really shaped my creative flow. Oamaru was great, I invested heavily into the local op shops and was always re-working my finds into some wild masterpieces.”
That creative flair can still be seen in Natalie’s latest projects, such as the current New Lands collection, which features suiting with an edgy twist, cosy-cool quilted jackets and covetable knitwear in shades of lime, blush, fog grey, sky blue, cinnamon and coffee, or woven with her unique art prints.

“Clothing ranges, for me, generally start from a concept or inspiration through art, colour, fabrication or a feeling, often inspired by our customers. New Lands still works to functionality with ease and design, but the initial inspiration can vary from season to season. All of my clothing works back to our values of confidence, comfort and play.”
Fabrication choices also factor strongly in Natalie’s brand manifesto.
“The yarn options and combinations are always exciting and innovative, something that really excites me, being conscious of its previous or next life.

“For example, we’re currently using repurposed nylon from abandoned fishing nets, re-spun into textile use, then blended with merino. This innovation allows a double use, reducing the ocean’s pollution while giving it a new life.
“We also use a lot of mohair, alpaca and merino, all of which are traceable back to the farms and origins.
“I have adored knitwear from a young age, so each collection has a strong knitwear focus.”

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