First deaf Māori Fashion Designer

By Taroi Black

A young Māori deaf fashion designer will showcase his work at the upcoming Vancouver Fashion Week, but the excitement is two-fold for Cruze Kapa after also being nominated in the Attitude Awards that celebrates achievements in the disability community.

“The design of my fashion concepts really reflected on what inspired me and it needed to reflect on who I was”, he said.  

This weekend Kapa was nominated for an entrepreneur award at Attitude, which recognises his commitment to the fashion industry.

“It's quite overwhelming. It was unexpected I don't really know how it happened. I believe that perhaps a lot of people have been following me on Facebook and on social media and have acknowledged my work and interviewed me and perhaps that's where the recognition has come from and the recognition of my brand 'Cruze'.”

Kapa graduated from Otago University with a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) and it wasn't an easy feat.

“It was a big challenge because it was an academic learning environment and it was difficult me being deaf to manage that obviously difficulties with hearing people and it was a different lifestyle, the lifestyle of a university student.”

His inspiration was driven by his upbringing in Gisborne.

“I remember when I was a small boy watching my Nanna and she had a very small old sewing machine that she used that was great for using old garments and she'd make children’s clothes for the five children that she had. And I think that's where the seed was really planted.”