They’re in fashion: Federation sticks to its guns and brands its way to the top

“Unconventional, artistic, quirky, humorous and youthful” New Zealand streetwear brand Federation has been named the winner of the inaugural James & Wells: Fashion Communication Design Award, beating out the other two finalists Cybelle and Moochi for top honours. Developed in collaboration between Fashion Industry New Zealand (FINZ) and James & Wells Intellectual Property, the award aims to celebrate creativity and excellence in fashion-specific communication design.

Federation, which was founded a decade ago by husband-and-wife team Nick and Jenny Clegg, is now sold in 18 countries across the Pacific, Asia, U.K, Europe, Middle East and North America. It targets anyone who’s into street culture aged 18-35 years and has developed an aesthetic that involves taking elements of pop culture, past or present, and messing with them.

“This award means a lot to us, because we’re really conscious about our brand and how we tell our story,” says co-founder Nick Clegg. “Regardless of whether it’s an individual print, garment, look-book or Facebook post, everything is Federation. With us, it’s a case of deciding ‘this is what we’re doing’ and ‘this is where we’re going’; let’s implement it. And, that’s based on a combination of things, which often stem from bouncing ideas off one another. We have such a great team. These people are awesome and we’re not going to change who we are to try and fit every market. We have to stay true to ourselves.”

The judging panel was led by Mike Hutcheson, co-founder of Colenso and former managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi, who now heads Image Centre Group. He was joined by Carrick Robinson, partner at James & Wells Intellectual Property, and FINZ executive officer, Mapihi Opai.

“Federation is up-front in saying: ‘we design what we want to wear and don’t necessarily follow trends’. This implies honesty, creativity and self-confidence, which expresses itself in the personality of the brand,” says Hutcheson. “They really understand their target audience, because the communication design is deliberate, consistently slick and well integrated. This is an eclectic brand that you can’t pigeonhole. It’s always experimenting and continuing to evolve, which sparks your curiosity and makes you want to find out what’s next.”

And Robinson agrees.

“Federation has clearly and confidently delivered its message to the world. It’s great to see a company with such a firm grip on who it is as a brand, and a willingness to execute a strategy around this.”

Opai says Federation is a company that has a lot to shout about, but aggressive self-promotion just isn’t part of the Cleggs’ mindset.

“Instead, they choose to speak through the brand and it’s something they do exceptionally well, because that language transcends cultural barriers and is understood by people around the world.”

Federation will receive intellectual property services to the value of NZ$5,000 from James & Wells Intellectual Property, as well as an annual membership subscription from FINZ.

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