Field Notes

People in Production: Manufacturing at The Pattern Table

17 August 2017

Posted in: Good to Know, Industry, H&F Presents, Fashion Thinking, Opinion

Hawes & Freer presents ‘People in Production’. An insight into the people, brands and roles in the production side of the New Zealand fashion industry. 
Have you ever thought about where your clothes are made or where you can get them made in NZ? Us too! As a part of our series this week, we went to The Pattern Table to talk to Stephen who co-owns it. We wanted to know what services this local manufacturer provides to the industry, how to go about starting a fashion label and the challenges the industry faces.
Stephen from The Pattern Table
Stephen from The Pattern Table
What part does The Pattern Table have in the NZ fashion industry? 

We provide all aspects to the production side of fashion. This includes pattern making, sampling, cutting, machining and attachments like buttons and buttonholes. We wanted to have an environment that people could come to and get everything done under one roof, rather than go to different outlets to source the work. 

Our team is a small but efficient team of 6, which is mostly made up of machinists, then we have a pattern maker and myself, as the hands-on production manager and cutter. We range from helping startup businesses to providing production for mid-high end NZ brands. 

What makes you unique to other local manufacturers? 

The main difference would have to be that we offer almost every service under the one roof. We not only provide to fashion, but to anyone, where that’s sportswear or baby wear. This isn’t limited to bulk amounts either, we also do one-offs. We have an ethical environment in house with no outworkers needed, we try to be as transparent as possible, so people see that this is what they get without any surprises.

How long have you been in the industry for and what role did you start in?

I studied finance and economics at university and whilst doing this, I worked at a tailor and learnt the ropes. I worked in the corporate world for a bit and this then lead me to taking over The Pattern Table 3 years ago.

What skills and qualities do you think are important for working in production and why?

I truly believe the most important quality in production is understanding exactly what the customer wants and what they are trying to achieve. You need to be organized and absolutely manage your expectations by being realistic of time and costs.

What makes an employee stand out?

As an employer, it is imperative to know and provide the employees with things they like doing to help make their job enjoyable. An employee that stands out is one that has a positive attitude so things roll smoothly.

What advice would you give to people starting out in fashion?

Again, manage expectations! There are multiple stages within fashion that do tend to take longer than others. For example, sampling / product development is longer than the production stage as you should trial and error before settling for a final sample and grading the patterns.

Would you recommend people to get experience before starting their own brand and why?

It really depends on your capabilities, especially if you’re on a tight budget then you will have to be a lot more hands on. Otherwise have patience and work hard, as people do tend to undermine the time in which to complete certain stages in production.

What do you think is the biggest challenge the industry faces?

People do not understand the perception of New Zealand made and instead they produce off shore. As technology is advancing, companies are now online and as a result we are then losing the one on one customer experience. We have also found that there is a lack of skilled young machinists, the next generation needs to be taught different aspects of the industry so fashion in NZ can still thrive in the future.

Have you noticed a change in attitude around NZ made clothes with your customers? If so, what kind of change?

There has been a shift towards NZ made with people willing to pay more for our quality. The more people that support the industry, the more likely we will be able to keep production in NZ. 

Do you think people are educated enough about starting a brand or what do you think is important for people to know when starting out in the industry?

You don’t need to be educated anymore because we can do everything for you. People need to differentiate themselves into where they sit within the market and have the basic business skills to launch their brand. 

The Pattern Table 

The Pattern Table is a boutique C.M.T house located in Mt. Eden, Auckland.

We cut, make and trim garments at any or all stages of production. We cater to most and can make almost anything- Merino knitwear, lycra leotards, custom made shirts through to corporate blazers.

If you have ever thought about creating your own clothing label, need new uniforms for a sports team or just need button holes sewn into your own creation, give us a call.

Under the one roof, you will find a pattern maker, cutter, sampling machinist, production machinists, apparel attachment services, pressing and even production management.

We are bringing back the one stop shop experience to New Zealand manufacturing, and proud of it.

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