Paddy Patterns are just a pair of gals who make the loveliest handmade clothes (mostly tops) from funky, retro, preloved materials. Emily and Allie, both students at Otago, are the big brains behind Paddy Patterns.
“We’ve been friends since year seven. We started making some very debatable clothing then,” they said.
Emily and Allie started to take sewing more seriously at the end of last year, when their friends showed interest. “We were like, you know what, let’s make this into a little business and start selling from Instagram,” they said. “We just got way too many clothes but we didn’t wanna stop sewing, so we thought to make clothes for other people. We were already doing thrift-flips and fixing stuff, so that naturally went into making our own stuff.”
Paddy Patterns want to crack down on fast fashion, which is one of the reasons they started their business in the first place. “A big thing for us is reusing fabrics,” they said. “Everyone’s like, oh I need a new town top, time to go to Glassons. And it’s like, please don’t.”
“Personally, I don’t want to support fast fashion anymore because I know how important it is not to. I think about how sore my back gets from sitting there at a sewing machine, imagine the people who are doing that and not getting paid enough.”
The gals get all the material for their tops second-hand, from all around the country. “We use all this really cool fabric that sits in op-shops and would otherwise get used as rags. We’ve thrifted stuff all the way from Auckland right down to Dunedin.”
So, how do you get your hands on their creations? “We do custom orders for anyone. Just message us through Instagram. We’ll send pictures of fabrics, get the style and size, and then we’ll meet you at Uni or post it if you’re not in Dunedin.”
They’re quick as heck too, busting out pieces so fast it doesn’t even feel inconvenient to support slow fashion. “We try to bust out custom orders within a couple of days and get them sent out as soon as we can. Most of the time we sit down and do multiple orders at the same time, four in a night maybe if we’re going really well and concentrating”.
Their prices are incredibly reasonable, hurting your pockets no more (actually, somewhat less) than Glassons would. “We want to cater to students. We think it’s silly to be charging hundreds of dollars, or even $50, for a top. We don’t want anyone to be cheated out of their groceries for the week, it’s not about that for us.”
Emily and Allie clearly have heart and a vision. “We’re not trying to make an exclusive boutique brand. We want our fashion to be accessible for everyone,” they said. “We try to make all our stuff as adjustable and changeable as we can. We want to be as inclusive as we can; we want to make stuff to fit people.”
Family is a key part of their inspiration. “Each of our patterns and tops are named after someone that’s special to us. It’s all the things that we really love,” they said. Emily’s fashion icon is her brother, “only sometimes though. When he puts in effort, he looks really good,” she said. Allie’s current style icon is her “dad in the ‘90s”.
“Seeing someone wearing our tops is worth way more than getting the money out of it,” they said. “I saw someone in my lecture wearing one of our tops. I wanted to ask to get a photo, but I thought that might be really weird.”
Emily and Allie are keen to venture into the world of dresses next. “We made a dress that we’re still trying to perfect a pattern for. Tiered dresses, that’s next on the to-do list.”
Paddy Patterns are expecting to be at OUSA’s next market day this month (21 April). To get your hands on one of their tops, DM them on Insta @paddypatterns. Listen to Sunaina Born’s interview with Allie and Emily at r1.co.nz.