Field Notes

People in Production: Power Cutting Services

3 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. 
Not many people would consider cutting as a career, they usually look at going into an established workroom or setting up their own brand. It really makes us question, why aren’t students curious about the other aspects of production? Especially when they can learn a wealth of knowledge from the many people that make up the industry. Hopefully by reading about our friends at Power Cutting Services, it will make you consider looking at gaining experience in a cutting workroom and learning about the technology to get the job done faster than you can imagine. Read more to find out what John has to say about his cutting business in the fashion industry. 

John at Power Cutting Services
John at Power Cutting Services

What part does Power Cutting have in the NZ fashion industry?

Power Cutting Services provides cutting services to the fashion industry and anyone that needs small to bulk cutting quantities. It helps to reduce the amount of time someone spends cutting because of the machine we use. We offer services like digitizing and grading patterns, fusing, creating markers for other customers or cutters and the most important one is working with clients who optimize fabric usage. We work with technology and software called PAD and Gerber. We can do anything from cutting out apparel patterns to cutting out squabs or seat coverings for camper-vans and cutting out material for tow bars. It really is varied. 

How long have you been in the industry for and how has it changed?

I have been in the industry cutting for about 20 years and I got involved through meeting others who were already immersed in it. Over the years the industry has changed dramatically. Back in the day container loads of fabric would arrive for all of the designers that were making in NZ. Now majority of it is all off shore so business has changed. The industry work force is not like it once was, there has been a lot of change especially with businesses growing and then people want a better price so they go off shore.

Bulk cutting
Bulk material cut by the machine.

Tell us a bit about the technology and skills required to work in cutting.

I have had our cutting machine for about 6-7 years. We have a team of 5 people who work with the machine and the different software. These skills are able to be picked up over time by anyone who is willing to learn them. It is a valuable skill to have if you plan on getting into the industry or if you are looking to be a pattern maker. It is kind of like Photoshop, you just have to follow the instructions the designer requires and know how everything fits and locks together. You need to have an interest in problem solving and the technical side of things, like how to fit the patterns on the quantity of fabric without the wastage. It is handy if you do learn these skills through uni, but you are able to pick them up through us, as well as more. 

How has technology disrupted cutting in the fashion industry?

It has disrupted in a negative and positive way by turning everything digital. Negative because cutters have gone out of business due to the smaller runs that are made in NZ and also because they haven’t kept up with technology. It is also positive because it means time is saved in production on cutting as we can cut a bulk style out in a matter of minutes whereas it could still take cutters doing it by hand a day or more to cut out. 

Do you think new innovations will come out for cutting? If so, what are your predictions? 

There is already body scanning, which scans your whole body and then it puts your measurements directly on to a computer and automatically fits the pattern to it. This will be good for uniform companies who have to make bulk uniforms to many different sizes. If anything this innovation would be good for cutters as it means we will have more work. I can’t see any new systems coming out specifically for cutting yet though. 

The Power Cutting Services workroom.

What personal qualities do you need for this job?

You have to have an eye for detail to ensure the fabric is lined up correctly when you lay it all out to avoid any errors. Especially when you have a bulk amount of fabric to cut.

Do you think students should show more interest in cutting? Can you make a career from cutting? 

Yes definitely, we need the new generation coming through to learn about the business and the skills. There are plenty of jobs in the industry where we are lacking the skills because people don’t consider them as a viable option. Students should get to know how the whole system works to become an asset in whatever team they end up in and be able to grow through their careers.

Do you face any challenges?

Keeping people inspired to make clothing in NZ so they don’t end up making off-shore. Also, seasonal challenges. When the transition happened from all brands making in NZ to some choosing to create off-shore, it caused lull periods, meaning that work wasn’t consistent. It has made replacing quality staff a challenge because people don’t consider cutting as a career option. 

The machine used to cut the materials.

Power Cutting Services

John - 09-849 5000

Based in Auckland.

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