Date29 Aug 2023
AOTEARAW Denim Co. (ARDC) is a denim house rooted in the global 'lifestyle' fashion market. Launched in 2009, ARDC takes the utmost care in producing quality goods to the highest standard.
Here, designer Daniel Tupara (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Hikairo, Mōrehu), shares insights into the whakapapa of ARDC and the thinking that guides their products.
Can you tell us a little more about the tīhate that features in Pohewa Pāhewa?
The t-shirt is named “Ronan” and is named after our whanaunga who is in the NZDF and has participated in defence tours and peacekeeping missions to ensure our nation is safe.
This design speaks to our history as a nation, the generations that carry historical mamae. and that our shared history is something that we have with us every day.
Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou to our many rangatira who fought to bring the importance of our history to the forefront, and as a result has allowed us to explore different artistic platforms to share our kaupapa, thoughts, and ideas. We continue to carry their wairua with us through our own expressions and platforms.
We used the wise words of Queenie Erueti to preface the Tīhāte! Project: Kaua e wareware ko wai koe, kia a kaha koe ki to whakapapa. Remember who you are, your strength is in your genealogy. This whakataukī speaks about the importance of whakapapa – how does this relate to your design kaupapa?
When designing our pieces we firstly look back to reference old whānau photos for inspiration and guidance – directly noting our rangatira within our whānau who influenced us, and how we can translate that within our clothing in a modern and relevant way. We use this to both acknowledge our whakapapa and rangatira ensuring we never forget those who inspired and influenced us, and who continue to.
As an example our Bobby jeans are named after my matua kēkē Tukino Bobby Tupara who was always in jeans riding his Harley. This is how we remember him!
Who are you designing for and why?
Our ARDC slogan is “Product of Culture” and we reference the whakataukī “Whiria Te Tāngata – Weave the people together”. We use our kākahu design to bring people together with a common interest and appreciation for fashion and design. We design for people of all cultures across the globe, to share our own culture and elements of Te Ao Māori, and passion for quality design.
We’ve found lots of practitioners describe themselves as a haututū when asked what they do – do you have other aspects to your creative practice?
I am absolutely no different! Alongside ARDC, R26 is our small but proudly Māori design agency and we have created mahi for global brands such as Asics, Asahi, Cotton On Group, Timberland, New Balance, and OPPO. I’ve been able to develop my creative skills and practices with mahi extending to commissioned and commercial work for lifestyle and technology brands across the globe, and I’ve been humbled to be able to travel the world learning while doing.
Do you have a favourite tīhāte?
That’s a really hard one, I have an archive I’ve collected over many years from different designers, but if I had to highlight one from ARDC it would be our “Rangimarie” tīhāte which we released in limited numbers over 13-years ago (watch this space). The proceeds were donated to the Māori Women's Welfare League who my kuia was a staunch supporter of – and now my tuahine is the National President.
Designers name: Daniel Tupara
Business/organisation name: AOTEARAW DENIM CO.
The key messaging for this design speaks to our past history as a nation, the generations that carry historical mamae, and calling out the fact of this by putting this message on the back and shoulders of the wearer to literally carry the message. This also talks to the quality weight of fabric (250gsm) for the t-shirt itself.
Whakapapa of Kaupapa in Pohewa Pāhewa:
The t-shirt design is named “Ronan” and is named after whanaunga who was our campaign talent when we originally launched ARDC in 2009. We named this t-shirt after Ronan who is in the NZDF and has done tours to ensure our nation is safe and delivered peacekeeping missions. So there are many layers to both the whakapapa and kaupapa to this design.