For any Kiwi even vaguely interested in fashion or design, getting to New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) is one of the ultimate goals. Unfortunately, unless you're an industry buyer, insider, press or a celebrity, it can be incredibly difficult to gain entry.
Add to this the once-a-year winter collections on show and you're left with a gap in the market. A gap that will soon be filled by the first Wellington Fashion Week, which will run from April 18-22.
You see, a wee while ago, 22-year-old business graduate Cameron Sneddon saw an opportunity to create a large-scale fashion event that celebrates New Zealand design and gives up-and-coming designers a chance to network with buyers and the industry. Not only that, but he wanted it to complement NZFW and for the public to be part of it.
The event will focus on emerging designers and primarily show the opposite season to NZFW, adding another great fashion event to the New Zealand calendar.
There will be two main group shows and a bridal show, all of which members of the public can buy tickets to. There are also two Nicola Screen for goodness shows - which were free entry so tickets were snapped up quickly - held at waterfront bar and hotspot Foxglove. (Don't fret, there are whisperings of a third show, check their website for details.) And finally, there are a number of invite-only shows and the wrap party, which again, anyone can buy tickets to.
For new kid on the block Shiana Weir, WFW has given her the chance to spend three months living the dream, designing the first full collection for her label Mardle.
"It's been fantastic working on the collection full-time. I absolutely love being able to do this every day.
"Being totally immersed in the process of designing and pattern-making has been intense and a whole lot of hard work, but seeing the collection walk the runway at WFW will make it all worth it."
But Weir's isn't the only newish label gracing the runways. You'll also see the likes of Hawke's Bay-schooled Hermione Flynn, Wanganui Ucol graduate Kelsey Thompson's label Kelsey Genna and Philippa and Alice, the work of Wellington pair Philippa Lake and Alice Howard .
But don't worry, it's not all new faces. You'll also see industry classics such as Ashley Fogel, Trelise Cooper, Starfish, Ruby, Storm and Moochi.
For most designers, it's a great chance for you to see their spring/summer 2012/13 collections long before their release.
However, if summer seems too far away, a number of established designers - including Moochi and Trelise Cooper - are showing their in-season winter collections. That's the garments that are in stores and available to buy now.
It's set to be an incredible week and a great opportunity for you, dear public, to get in on the action. I'll be blogging an insider's guide to putting a collection down the runway, but it's probably best if you get there yourself.
Wellington Fashion Week tickets are available from iticket.co.nz.
For more information on designers, dates and shows, see wfweek.co.nz