Young Ōpōtiki fashion designer making waves with luxury brand

Source: Seven Sharp

If you're looking for the home of high fashion in New Zealand your mind may quickly wander to the likes of Auckland's Ponsonby or the streets of Wellington.

Not many would think of the small East Coast town of Ōpōtiki.

Home to delicious seafood and gorgeous wildlife, and a store on the main drag that’s propelling the eastern Bay of Plenty town into the world of high fashion.

Twenty-four-year-old Jakob Carter crafts evening wear designed for international catwalks and celebrities.

“That’s one thing I try to do with all my collections is create something that’s entirely new and different to give people that wow experience," Carter said.

After building his company for five years, Jakob’s label provides candles and fragrances as well as high end fashion. His products are in 150 stores nationwide.

“It's honestly a very city vibe but I didn’t grow up in the city. I get my full creativity from my hometown. I’ve been inspired by people, by landscapes and so many different things. It’s a great place for a designer to grow.”

His latest collaboration is with homegrown Kiwi musician Stan Walker.

Jakob Carter's latest collaboration has been with Stan Walker.

“I think I did about a 15-page proposal and sent it to his manager and then I was in the airport one day and got a phone call from his manager and said let’s do it and I just remember jumping up and down in the airport," Carter said.

Carter says the most fun days at work are the ones he spends helping on the production line. At one point, the brand managed to make a thousand perfume bottles in one day.

After finding success within the last few years, Carter is looking to expand his brand to Australia, Europe, and the UK over the coming months.

“For the last year and a half, we have been struggling to keep up with sales which has been awesome, and the growth has honestly been the hardest part. The one thing I have realised is that we have definitely been able to grow and expand from here in Ōpōtiki. It’s something I didn’t know if I was able to do.

“I've had so many people tell me that it would never work. I think we are the perfect example of doing something big from a small town. You can totally do whatever you want from wherever you want in the world. You just have to make it happen.”