2016 marked 10 years in fashion for STORM, an impressive accomplishment for a brand that was launched during challenging global financial times and has persisted through a demanding retail landscape to bring women affordable, yet fashion-forward pieces.  Opening her first Newmarket store in 2006, STORM’s general manager/creative director, Deborah Caldwell, has an extensive background in the fashion industry, as Zara Overton discovered when she spoke with Deborah about the story behind this iconic kiwi brand.

 width=N. Having just celebrated 10 years in the business of fashion, STORM has managed to stay current and a staple in many a Kiwi woman’s wardrobe. To what do you accredit the success of STORM?

STORM has always stayed true to its moody design aesthetic with a focus on refined silhouettes, exclusive prints and high quality fabric. Although we have adapted to changes over the years in the NZ fashion industry, we have always tried to stay true to our identity as a brand. This is something that our loyal customers love and respect. We do however need to keep evolving and this is a reminder to stay true to our brand essence and core values.

N. Tell us about your journey to becoming a designer…

I started as trims co-ordinator on the factory floor at Jag clothing and slowly worked my way up working for Max Fashions and then started Storm.  It has been a long but very fulfilling journey over the 30 years I have been in the fashion industry.

N. STORM maintains a price point that is affordable, whilst also staying on top of current fashion trends, something that can be a challenge in the ‘fast fashion’ retail landscape. How has STORM evolved to keep up with this environment?

We aren’t dictated by ‘fast fashion’ trends but instead design our own take on seasonal colours and popular runway trends. We stand apart from others, holding true to the STORM brand essence. We have always tried to maintain an affordable price point without compromising our quality or design aesthetic.

N. Why did you decide to start your own label?

I saw a gap in the market. There was an opportunity to bridge fast fashion and high-end designer clothing, voila – Storm was born!

N. Who is the STORM customer?

The STORM customer is confident, edgy, sexy, and someone who wants to stand apart but not out from the crowd. Storm is not an age, but an attitude.

N. What is the inspiration behind the latest Winter 2 collection?

Tailoring is always a big player in our winter collections. The Winter 2 collection was designed to inject directional cuts and edgy accents into a winter wardrobe. It features a balanced mix of feminine tailored pieces and tomboyish silhouettes and asymmetric finishes.  We have also reinvented core STORM wardrobe pieces such as the leather jacket, merino knits and trousers.

N. Your Newmarket store opened in 2006. What was it about Newmarket that drew you to the precinct? width=

Newmarket at that point was just Broadway and we saw the potential in the area around Teed Street becoming the next boutique-shopping precinct.

N. How have social media and blogging changed the way you work?

We are a new player to the social media game. Since bringing on a Brand Manager, we have noticed a real change in the STORM brand presence. No one can deny the influence social media has on purchasing decisions but we will only work with bloggers and influencers who organically fit with our brand.

N. Where do you look to for inspiration and ideas when planning for your next season?

Catwalks, fabrication, print and colour, as a Creative I am very drawn to fabric and then the imagination expands from there.

N. Do you have any favourite international designers who you look up to?

I like a mixture for various reasons, but my two favourites would have to be Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester.

N. What would we find in your handbag?

Sunglasses and Kiehl’s lip balm.

N. What are some key trends for Winter?

Lacing, eyelets and sleeve detail. Tomboyish wide leg pants are also a key trend that we have recreated with a sexy accent.

N. Have you read any good books lately? If so, what are they?

At the moment I am reading The Girl on the Train and Grace.

 width=N. What is Newmarket’s best kept secret?

Cartier for Flowers. It’s not a secret but it’s an unexpected floral wonderland. It’s an inspiring store I love to visit.

N. It’s 10am on a Sunday, where will we find you and what are you doing?

Unfortunately not having a sleep in. I am usually at the side of a Basketball court watching my son Boston play.

N. If you were hosting a dinner party, what would be on the menu?

A beautiful seafood risotto, gin, a great bottle of wine and whiskey to finish.

N. What has been your best fashion investment?

My Louis Vuitton Montaigne MM handbag.

N. What’s next on the horizon for STORM?

Growth and expansion in the New Zealand market. We opened our new Christchurch CBD store a few months ago and Queenstown last year and have had an incredible response.


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