High fashion in the Hunter

It may seem a long way from the cobblestones of Morpeth to the catwalks of Milan, but that hasn’t stopped a rich seam of Hunter design creatives putting their best stitch forward to create a career out of fashion.


Pursuing a career in fashion is a major juggling act for Fletcher designer Martha Ngoyi, who launched her label ÆGLE Couture two years ago while completing a Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology at TAFE and a double business degree at the University of Newcastle. Born in the Congo, Martha moved to Australia from Zimbabwe 12 years ago with her brother, sister and her mother, who she says inspired her to turn her hand to sewing. 


Sustainability is at the heart of another Newcastle-based womenswear label, VOUS. Created by Renee Verdon in 2013, VOUS carefully considers each garment’s environmental impact and the fair work conditions under which it has been created. The “slow fashion” advocate uses deadstock, traceable and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified fabrics in each collection and minimises waste wherever possible, producing less than 10 garments per style per season and creating Zero Waste accessories using leftover material that would otherwise be thrown out.


Inspired by a lifelong love of fashion, and surrounded by family members who made clothes – including an aunt with her own label – Katie McIntyre was destined to be a designer. After completing her Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology at Tighes Hill TAFE in 2014, the then 20-year-old launched her self-title label, Katie Maree. In the past six years the Morpeth woman has notched up some major milestones, including creating two collections of modern bohemian inspired garments, which are sold online and in a range of Hunter retailers. Her designs have also graduated to the red carpet, with Katie creating the outfits worn by Newcastle-based reality TV stars Cathy and Victoria Fren at the 2018 and 2019 Logies. “Cathy contacted me through my website and said they were looking for local designers to do their dresses for the Logies,” Katie said. “Initially when I got the email I thought someone was playing a joke on me … so just seeing them on the red carpet was pretty surreal and very cool. 

Read more about these young Hunter creatives in the Spring issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine. Available in news agencies or subscribe here and never miss an issue.
Story Michelle Meehan, photography courtesy of Martha Ngoyi, Edwina Richards Photography, Blake Chaney.