FAQ’s with Aroha McKerrow – the NZ Designer behind Promisedland

Q: What inspired you to start your own label?

A: After travelling to many developing countries and seeing so much poverty, I wanted to help get money from the western world, to people in less fortunate circumstances. I wanted woman to be able to buy stylish, yet classic pieces that fit really beautifully, and in turn provide an income for people in need in developing countries.

Q: Was it difficult to find a truly ethical source for your fabrics – how did you manage to find the people you’re working with in Vietnam?

A: My focus was to find a workshop to produce clothing that supported disadvantaged people in a developing country to earn a decent living to help themselves out of poverty. I did a lot of research and found Fair Fashion Vietnam; a garment workshop set up by an anti trafficking alliance to support rehabilitated woman into a chosen career. Yes, it’s definitely hard when you start looking into fair trade and ethical practices, I knew from the start that I would need to go there in person to see it for myself. I did a lot of research and was very blessed to find the workshop that supports such great causes. I looked into getting certified Fairtrade fabric and I couldn’t find anything even close to what I was after without carting it across the globe. So I decided to start with locally made silk, which is a great start. I am yet to see it in production; this will be the next step.

Q: What’s your favourite piece of clothing you’ve designed so far, and why?

A: Oooh that’s a hard one, the Eve top is a timeless classic. It’s a black silk top with a drop vee back. I love the bright silks and colorful prints too.

Q: Tell us about more about the ladies in Vietnam – what are their stories?

A: Such beautiful kind people and amazing tailors. Some sad background stories but now beautiful opportunities. One lady at a young age was offered a job as a maid in a neighboring country, and she regrettably took up the offer to support her family. Little did she know she would end up being taken to a neighboring country, repetitively raped and abused and forced into a life of prostitution. She was rescued by an anti trafficking alliance and rehabilitated over a number of years. Then was eventually able to live her dream to be a tailor and now works at Fair Fashion (which is where promisedland garments are made).

Q: If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: Jeans and a beautiful silk top, maybe a cool belt, sandals and a cropped jacket, definitely earrings and bangles.