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67 Victoria Street West

‘SooKim’ was a combination of Suzanne (Sue) Bringans and Kim Panther, its Japanese sound perfectly capturing the rising influence of designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Commes des Garçons on the western fashion aesthetic.

They founded their fashion label at Cook Street Markets, a busy hub of creative enterprise with lots of young customers eager to wear the latest trends. At $25 the stall rent was relatively cheap making it possible for entrepreneurial designers to make a living from their craft. Sue was brimming with ideas and her then life and business partner, Kim Panther, was a skilled pattern cutter able to translate her designs and cut out the garments.

Soon they had enough of a following to consider a retail store and in 1983 the SooKim shop opened its doors. It was a large space with a sit down area, a conservatory down the back and captivating window displays. They didn’t just sell clothes. They sold applied art objects such as clocks made by students and Sue designed jewellery from recycled materials such as rubber stoppers and metal pieces. She was an inventive designer who was constantly looking for new materials. She re-cut old jerseys from the army store, added fur and sold them as glamorous recreations. Her rubber and neoprene bodywear and tops were featured on the pages of glossy magazines.

Sue and Kim closed their Victoria Street shop in January 1989 prompted by a rent increase and Sue’s poor health.

Read more at www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/sookim

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