Viva editor Amanda Linnell reveals what's in store for New Zealand Fashion Week, which kicks off in Auckland today.

There's much more on the agenda at New Zealand Fashion Week than hem-lengths and front row celebrity spotting.

The biggest event on the local fashion calendar is returning to its original venue of the Auckland Town Hall and along with the traditional runway format is placing a key focus on sustainability, diversity and business success.

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"Returning to this venue after 16 years really shows how far Fashion Week has grown and evolved," says founder Dame Pieter Stewart. "We also now have a huge marquee on Aotea Square and have worked with Activate Auckland to ensure the event spreads throughout the whole city."

The change of venue has also prompted a rethink in the role of Fashion Week and the public-focused Fashion Weekend, says Stewart, who has created a programme that will see a focus on sustainability integrated across all elements of the event from designers, runway shows and seminars to workshops, markets, walking tours and onsite waste reduction.

One highlight will be a panel discussion on Socially Sustainable Business – Doing Well by Doing Good. Supported by the Ministry of Social Development and chaired by Michael Barnett from the Auckland Business Chamber, the two-hour event will include a panel of designers in the sustainable fashion spheres, including Mindful Fashion NZ, and will be projected live on to big screens in Aotea Square.

First down the runway after the official opening tonight will be designer Kate Sylvester, who has been pivotal in creating Mindful Fashion NZ and recently launched Re-loved, a website capturing the trend for recycling. Renowned for her thought-provoking shows, Sylvester plans to mix her new season collection with vintage Kate Sylvester pieces.

"We want people to keep loving their clothes," says the designer, "and we thought this was a great way to show how you can extend the life of a garment."

Other highlights of the week will be the first ever runway show for young designer Maggie Marilyn, who has forged a reputation internationally for her made-in-New Zealand and sustainability ethos.

Fashion Week has always had a strong reputation for supporting new-generation designers and Miramoda - a showcase for Māori designers - is now in its 10th year.

Thursday night sees fashion stalwarts Zambesi celebrate not just 40 years in business, but also 40 years of made in New Zealand – a major achievement.

Friday sees the start of the popular Fashion Weekend with a stimulating schedule of runway shows, seminars and interactive displays. Tickets for the Fashion Weekend are available at