Beach Knickers is the New Zealand label making vintage-inspired pieces locally

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“The label is growing up with me as I get older and go through changes.”

It was an undying passion for vintage fashion, and a desire to create her own version of it, that led New Zealand designer Rosie Ackland to study fashion design six years ago. She wanted to bring her vintage-inspired visions to life. Post-graduation, armed with the necessary skills, she launched her label, Beach Knickers, with a range of cotton bikinis and bloomers.

Gradually, Beach Knickers evolved into a broader offering, and dresses, tops, pants and skirts were added to its range. Rosie herself is the beating heart of the brand; she is featured in most of the label’s campaign imagery, and as she’s evolved, the label has evolved with her.

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Her Jane Birkin-esque aesthetic permeates Beach Knickers and lends a dreamy, seventies-inspired energy to her designs. Local production has always been a priority for her, and the relationships she’s cultivated with her New Zealand suppliers and production team are something she’s immensely proud of. Read on to hear about her journey in getting her label off the ground.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?

Hello! My name is Rosie, I have been working in fashion and retail since I was 15! [I] studied design and started my brand Beach Knickers the summer after I graduated. That was six years ago now!

I opened a store a couple of years ago called Dandie, it was located in Mount Maunganui and we sold Beach Knickers and lots of beautiful things made by our friends. I recently had a baby, Juniper, and we decided it was time to shut Dandie’s doors and focus on our businesses online. So now I work from home with my baby Juni and dog Billy.

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges.

Beach Knickers started when I stopped studying. I wanted to create things that I loved and wanted to wear. There are many challenges in having a brand and business – working for yourself, learning new things and trying to get everything working from design, production, marketing etc. The design for me is such a small part of the process, the making and running of a business take up more time.

Financially starting a brand is not easy, I think most people don’t talk about this but it’s good to be open! I always worked part-time at vintage stores or other retailers as I was investing all the money I could make into buying fabrics and paying for production.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

What I try to achieve through my brand is an authentic reflection of what I love. My partner and I take all the imagery and it’s supposed to feel real! The label is growing up with me as I get older and go through changes. Now Juni is in the photos because that’s my life now.

How would you describe Beach Knickers to someone who’s never seen it before?
Vintage-inspired clothing, made for friends by friends.
Where did the name come from?

The first things I ever made were cotton bikinis and bloomers. More of these to come in summer!
What are you most proud of in your work on your label?
I’m most proud of producing all our garments locally [and] the relationships I have with my production team and suppliers.

What do you wish you knew when you started?
Problem-solving is everything! Mistakes will happen and you won’t always get it right but there is always a solution to resolve things.
Who do you think is most exciting in Australian/NZ fashion right now?

[I’m] excited to see what Georgia Currie does next!
What about the Australian/NZ fashion industry needs to change?

I think the education around fashion could have some change, for example, our parent’s generation had the opportunity to do machinist apprenticeships, so you were paid to learn to sew and sew well. The same for cutting and patterning. Now the university courses encourage you just to be a designer so we have lost a whole set of skills and jobs.

Go-to dinner party playlist?
JJ Cale, George Benson [and] The Beatles!
Who is in your wardrobe right now?

My wardrobe is mostly vintage. I am a serious (well not serious) vintage collector. It’s what I draw inspiration from. The few brands I have in my wardrobe are Penny Sage for jeans, Doen for dresses and blouses and Beach Knickers.

How can we buy one of your pieces?