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Dressing up with W by Working Style

With 16 years experience creating bespoke menswear, Sharon Orquejo says it’s time the girls had a go.

Sharon Orquejo has three words for women after a quick way to sharpen up their look – “blazer, blazer, blazer”. And if anyone knows the power of a blazer, it’s Orquejo, who for the last 16 years has helped hundreds of people into the perfect tailored jacket in her role at New Zealand suiting institution Working Style.

The heritage brand, which has been in business almost 35 years, has predominantly focused its offering on menswear, but in late 2020 expanded into made-to-order womenswear — a welcome initiative that sees Orquejo well on the way to smartening up the female population too. “I’d love to see women in New Zealand dress up a bit more,” she says, “I think every woman should have a good blazer in their wardrobe.” And it’s not just blazers on offer — W by Working Style currently includes more than 30 women’s styles, including suits, jackets, pants and shirts that can be made to order in an infinite array of fabrications and colourways. Orquejo admits that even in the early days as a fashion and textile design student at AUT, she was strongly drawn to the tailoring. “I remember creating my first suit piece at university and the pattern must have been at least 60 pieces — so that’s a lot of pattern in one garment, and that was just a jacket! It’s one of those skills you don’t lose, if anything you just keep learning — I’m still learning to this day on certain alterations, things that I’ve never heard of but that can be done. I find it very interesting, anything that’s a bit different is a challenge for me, and I love a bit of a challenge.

The W range, which was instigated, driven and designed by Orquejo after she noticed “a real gap in the market,” was a year and a half in the making, and so far has been even more successful than they’d hoped — helped in part by a ready client base in their male customers’ partners. “I had been creating this for almost 18 months, but during that time I had organically been getting clients, the partners of those coming in to look at menswear, and they’ve loved it, so that’s when we were more keen than ever, because we knew there was a market out there.”

With her extensive experience and intuitive understanding of the Working Style brand Orquejo had a strong vision for what was needed to create a collection that referenced its roots, but also ticked all the boxes when it came to great womenswear.

The perfect jacket is the base for the collection, with polished cotton mills, velvet, silk and tweed just a few of the fabrications on offer. “The options really are limitless,” says Orquejo, “so finally New Zealand women can have what men have been enjoying from Working Style for the last 34 years.”

Orquejo says the W customer is women looking for something special, both a product and service that “really gets them”, It’s not just about getting a perfectly made suit or separates — although that is always the outcome — the experience is equally as important. “We really enjoy creating a personal, one on one experience. Just like with the men, we want to share that same experience, because I love that experience, and I’ve never seen anyone offer it to women. And it is so nice for us women to switch off for a bit, so it’s all about you for a minute. A lot of women are so busy, they just don’t stop – when I bring them in here, I’m telling them, “This is your time…”

The process starts with an initial in-store consultation and fitting, where the W consultant gets to know the client, their lifestyle and wardrobe requirements (over a gin and tonic or champagne if they’re in the mood), while looking through samples, taking measurements and talking fit, fabric and function.

Measurements for the more tailored pieces are then sent off to Working Style’s Portuguese atelier of choice, Davion, while the more relaxed-fit suits and shirts, designed specifically with Kiwi style in mind, are skillfully sewn by top local tailors. Ina maximum time frame of six weeks, the customer then returns for a final fitting and styling session.

While Europe is renowned as the epicentre of exceptional garment and fabric production, Working Style has also engaged top local makers in the creation of the collection, with a locally made suit with a softer, looser silhouette, and the brand’s very first New Zealand shirtmaker in charge of making a range for W by Working Style that includes a covetable boyfriend-style shirt.

“Tt’s been great to reconnect with these wonderful people and build a relationship while highlighting their incredible craftsmanship,” says Orquejo. “It’s nice to have options, and the New Zealand style is quite different from the other offerings, which are typically European in influence —a bit more nippy through the waist and shoulder, more tailored.”

“?’m working around our women’s lifestyles and I wanted to be able to produce something that could transition from work to dinner or be worn with a pair of jeans or shorts… Pieces we could get more wear out of as opposed to just the one function.”

The ‘New Zealand’ suit is also the only W style available to purchase off the rack – for now everything else is made to order.

Orquejo says pieces cut in their luxurious linens have been among the most popular to date, but there’s been plenty of surprise standouts, from soft pink and cherry red suits to one of her own personal favourites, a white satin pairing that is “glamorous yet sophisticated, for any special occasions from weddings to cocktail parties.”

SMARTEN UP

W By Working Style includes more than 30 women’s suiting options that can be made to order in an array of fabrications and colourways.

Why you should try waterless beauty + 6 products we love

Crucial to the formulation if not application of a majority of beauty products, consideration of water waste is a new frontier for the beauty industry in its ongoing quest to minimise its environmental impact: enter waterless beauty products. 

Among bold eye makeup and sweeping feathered fringes, you might be surprised to learn that water consideration is near the top of the list when it comes to key beauty trends right now.

Globally, and largely as a result of climate change, water is well on its way to becoming a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply. As this reality takes hold and we adapt our habits around water usage, so too beauty brands are adapting the way they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water.

Admittedly, waterless beauty products have been around for years. Consider bar soap — used for generations before falling out of favour, and now enjoying a renaissance as we recognise its many environmentally-friendly benefits, including its modern, botanically-led formulations and the minimal plastic and production waste it creates.

Happily, the variety of products and their uses continues to grow as brands innovate to find waterless and limited-water solutions.

What you need to consider when buying waterless products:

There are two key things to consider when it comes to beauty products and their reliance on water:

  • One of the most common ingredients in beauty product formulation, water is often used as a filler as it’s cheaply available. It can also help with texture and performance, making products nice to use and easier to spread.
  • Water consumption is often necessary to use each product — particularly relevant to shower and bath-related beauty items. A study by Watercare on water use in Auckland found that people typically use between 140 and 175 litres of water a day. The biggest portion of that (27%) was in the shower.

With these challenges in mind, it’s heartening to see brands recognising consumer demand for accountability, and addressing this by incorporating water usage targets into their sustainability plans, as well as innovating products that require less water to formulate, or in the process of using.

And the technologies are becoming more impressive. Effective anhydrous products (waterless beauty products) now take many forms, such as cleansing balms, moisturising oils, body butters, pressed serums and dry masks.

6 waterless beauty products to try

Solid beauty

Solid beauty bars are some of the most visible and popular anhydrous beauty products on the market. According to NZ-based beauty brand Ethique, a leader in the category, an average shampoo or body wash can be made of up to 80 per cent water. Conditioner is even higher at up to 95 per cent. Using solid bars to clean and condition your hair in the shower not only minimises water waste but cuts down on plastic, too. According to the brand, you will save at least three plastic bottles and 2750mls of water with one bar. There are also a number of good solid body moisturisers.

Powders

Similarly, powder cleansers and exfoliants that negate the use of water in formulation are taking off. Much lighter to package and ship, they have skin benefits, too. When mixed with water, some active ingredients can deteriorate over time; in powder form they retain their potency until activated. Additionally, they don’t require preservatives to ward off the bacteria that can thrive with water- based products. Tatcha’s popular Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder, which is available in classic, deep, calming and gentle versions, contains Japanese rice bran as well as rice and papaya enzymes and, when activated with just a touch of water, lathers into a foam to gently exfoliate, polish and deep clean skin.

Oils

Not only are skin oils incredibly nourishing for the skin, containing essential fatty acids and lipids similar to those our skin makes naturally, they’re easier to formulate without using water. Go-To’s Face Hero uses 10 plant and nut oils for a well-tolerated. treatment that helps to balance oily skin, hydrate dry skin, and calm sensitive skin.

Dry shampoo

Showers use approximately 10 to 20 litres of water every minute. There are a few ways you can minimise waste. Install a showerhead with increased water efficiency, limit your showers to no more than four minutes, or try skipping every second hair wash and getting by with a dry shampoo. Using a lightweight, spray-in powder will enable you to increase the number of days in between washing your hair, meaning you’ll consume significantly less water. It also helps to extend the life of your hair colour. Joico’s Weekend Hair Dry Shampoo absorbs oil, sweat and odour from hair in just 30 seconds and gives hair a touch of stylish volume and texture — perfect for second or third day ’dos.

Bar soap

Ditch the bodywash and liquid hand soap and switch to a classic bar soap instead. New iterations are a far cry from the old-fashioned lump of lard, instead full of gentle hydrating botanical oils. Jo Malone’s satiny hand and body soap contains nourishing shea butter and leaves skin delicately scented with the famous fragrance house’s best-selling perfumes such as Red Roses and English Pear & Freesia.

Sticks

Enabling us to do our whole skincare and makeup routine in minutes without tools, stick beauty products use less water content than their liquid relatives, and are foolproof to swipe on and blend in with fingers. The arrival of buzzy NYC-based Milk Makeup into Sephora stores here boosts the options significantly, with the vegan and cruelty-free brand offering a wide stick-based selection, from foundation and blush to toner, masks and serum — including the Watermelon Brightening Serum that boosts hydration and evens skin tone.

Looking for more beauty picks? Try these quick, sheer foundations