Just take a look at the sharply dressed staff at the Hotel Britomart, one of Auckland’s best addresses. The uniforms they sport– front-of-house, porters, housekeeping, food and beverage – are all the work of Tamzin Hawkins. The highly stylish linen-laden look goes way beyond first impressions. There’s a mix-and-match component (an odd tweak there, a certain collar change there) but the underlying ethos to this uniform approach is one of sustainability.

As Tamzin puts it, “We always push to design and produce our products with as little impact on the natural systems of the world as possible. Our practice focusses on the entire lifecycle of a product.” So, her gear is made to order; she uses predominantly natural fibres (locally made when possible); she repairs and revives items throughout their natural life, right down to re-dying aprons that might look a little weary, and when they’re done, the uniforms are recycled back to their raw materials, with a view to future use.

This is the business known as White Label Uniforms, which Tamzin started in 2016. Based in Nelson, it’s now run by Tamzin and partner Jonti (together with their wee one Nikau, who lends a little hand on occasion).

Tamzin has a Bachelor of Art and Design from the Auckland University of Technology, and has worked both abroad and for Dame Trelise Cooper. She says that when she started her label, she made a commitment to using only natural materials. “As a maker, I think it’s a moral obligation to look after the Earth. If you’re going to make consumer products, you’re responsible for what goes into them and what happens to them at the end of their life.” As an example, there’s more mileage yet in older aprons from the Hotel Britomart. The recycled textile, with the addition of wool, can be turned into the hotel’s slippers (the soles of which are made from recycled rubber tyres).

It’s not just the Hotel Britomart that has benefitted from the White Label look. Staff at Sherwood Queenstown, Pasture in Parnell, Homestead in Auckland, Ceres Organics and the Calile Hotel in Brisbane are among those who sport White Label, proving there’s a style for everyone.

All this from small beginnings. White Label came about after Tamzin made a set of hard-wearing aprons for a friend who ran a café in Wellington. My, how it’s grown. whitelabeluniforms.co.nz GERALDINE JOHNS