the Queen of the underground: Q&A with Margi Robertson

Metropol catches up with NOM*d founder and one of New Zealand’s top fashion designers Margi Robertson.


Margi Robertson


You’ve recently been to Paris, what was the highlight of Fashion Week for you?

It was wonderful as always to see the Rick Owens presentation. He has shown at the Palais de Tokyo for several seasons now (outdoors in the huge and amazing courtyard) with models ascending from the top level down the stairway and circling a huge tower structure which was set alight partly through the show. It was so cool – as well as great looks from Rick!

How do you describe your Jeepers Creepers spring and summer collection?

Lots of references to favourite TV shows, be it Looney Tunes or The Young Ones. Sitting as always alongside signature NOM*d looks, like reworked vests, easy fit pants, two way dresses, mesh and cotton t-shirts; all able to be mixed or layered or simply worn solo.

Who has been the most inspirational person in your life?

Rei Kawakubo, of Comme des Garçons. Since I travelled to Japan in the mid-80s, I have always looked to her for easy garments with unpredictable construction. It’s made me recognise that a brand must have a signature look and is recognisable no matter what season. It makes the garments ageless.

What is “the New Zealand Look” and how do you feel about being credited in the media for it?

I think it’s a little over-used. We were given that moniker when we showed at London Fashion Week with the NZ Four. Perhaps it’s something to do with dark and the All Blacks? I’m baffled and I don’t know who wrote it, but it has remained to this day!

You have Plume in the Central City so tell us your thoughts on Christchurch’s inner city rebuild?

It’s amazing how the CBD is coming together, and we are literally across the road from our previous High Street location! I think the locals are still a little apprehensive about going into ‘town’ as the one way streets take some getting used to. Every time we visit Christchurch, from Dunedin, there is a new development happening. We love our space and being in a new building we’ve been
able to create the interior with wonderful light and space.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your career what would that be?

We have grown organically with no business plan, I wonder if we should have had one? Not sure that it would have changed our progress.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Having to justify to our peers in the fashion industry why we have remained in Dunedin, and maintaining a presence. In some ways it’s quite nice to be a little underground and appealing to a fan base, almost a cult following. I imagine living in bigger cities there is a lot more pressure to conform and that’s not really our style.

How is working in the fashion industry different today from when you started out?

The biggest thing is the instant communication with the digital age we are living in. When we started retailing in 1975 or even producing our own collection in 1986 we pretty much operated with telephone calls and fax machines (until the late 90s).
Now we have thrown out the fax, every employee has a computer station and we use many software programs to compile and retrieve data for both manufacturing and retailing. Everyone can access anything from anywhere in the world in less than a minute!

What is the most memorable comment on social media you’ve read about yourself?

Had a much admired collaborator say she would like to be “just like me when she got to my age”.

If you weren’t a fashion designer, what other career would you like to do?

I’ve never had any desire to do anything else… even at 65 I don’t know what else I would do!

What are some of the things we can look forward to from NOM*d this coming year?

No predictions, not really our style… the new is the new, always.