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My Life in Clothes — Dan Ahwa

Editor, stylist and sustainable fashion advocate DAN AHWA has developed a personal style, balancing mindfulness with not taking it all too seriously.

My Life in Clothes — Dan Ahwa

Apr 11, 2024 Fashion


This is a vintage shirt from Bruno’s Originals. They upcycle a lot of old textiles — it reminded me of something my nan would have made. It’s an old tea towel, basically. I’m on the Mindful Fashion New Zealand board. It’s been a good exercise for me to learn about textile waste, and that’s been a development for me as my personal style has evolved — investing in things that have been recycled or reused in different ways. My approach to fashion and my relationship with clothes has changed as I get older. Everyone seems to have this idea that if you’re a fashion editor or someone who’s covering fashion, then you’re constantly buying things, but that’s not quite the case. 


Vintage shirt, Lavalava



This is my first formal lavalava. Growing up, whether it was a family gathering or a traditional Samoan event, or a funeral, or a wedding, this was my go-to lavalava for special occasions. My mother bought it for me. I still like wearing it — there are so few opportunities to wear a lavalava and it’s a good way to acknowledge tradition. The last time I wore it was at a funeral earlier this year. Usually with Pacific Island funerals, you’re wearing the same thing for a few days or a week. It’s a sign of respect. 

I like to wear it with all sorts of different things. This shirt is a Dries Van Noten shirt that I bought in LA. Dries is one of my favourite designers. I like to incorporate some of that into things I wear every day — like, not saving everything for special occasions and just wearing things, whether with a pair of jeans or a lavalava. This would be a go-to look at this point at my life for a formal, traditional gathering. 



This shirt is Polo Ralph Lauren that I’ve worn since 2005 when I worked for Polo in Newmarket. That was my first job while I was at uni. I was obsessed with the brand from early on in terms of visual storytelling. That brand is so good at selling whatever it is that it’s selling that’s not clothes — a visceral world that just made me curious. This Oxford shirt represents that part of my life and my relationship with fashion and with luxury. I like heritage brands. I like that there’s a whole archive of stuff you can look through and be inspired by. Even if you’re stuck on how to wear something, you can look on the internet and go through the archives and get inspiration. 

I’ve put it with these jeans from this new menswear brand called Manaaki by Kat Tua. She worked with everyone — Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester — and she got picked up by Mr Porter about two years ago as part of its inaugural designer awards. I’m drawn to brands that have a really interesting story and she’s really about celebrating her Māori culture. I do styling work for her, and I’m really interested in working with brands that have a real personal connection to what they’re creating. 


Ralph Lauren Shirt, Wedding Blazer



This is my first Zambesi blazer, from 2010. It’s linen and designed by Dayne Johnston. It’s just one that I wear all the time. Every event I go to, I wear it. And there are some old Kate Sylvester badges on there. And this is my wedding suit. It’s Crane Brothers from 2018. It took ages because it was made in Italy. I can’t remember how I chose it, but the wedding was on the hottest day of the year — 28 January, Auckland Anniversary Day. I wore it with black sandals. Zoe and I got married at St Mary’s in Ponsonby and the reception was at the old Mission Bay Pavilion. A great day.



This is by King Kapisi for his Overstayer brand. My mate Emma Gleason caught this at Central Flea one Sunday a couple of years ago. I’d been looking for one for a while. The only piece that I had was a pair of jeans that had a back pocket like a woven mat. This is 2005. He’s so cool, his whole family is cool. It was so cool having those positive Pasifika role models who weren’t playing rugby, but were doing creative pursuits. That really inspired me. 


Overstayer shirt



This is a Prada shirt from 2015. I just love the illustration. There are only a couple of things I collect — Dries and old Prada. Some things I don’t wear anymore, but when I collect things for myself, they’re a nice time capsule. I remember moments in my life when I purchased it or when I wore it and from that you remember other significant moments in my life. It keeps the memory active. That’s what clothes can do sometimes. 

This is another Dries shirt I bought over lockdown. It is his Len Lye collab, which is an amazing story for New Zealand art, to have someone of that calibre looking through his archives and putting it on garments. That’s really special. This to me is like collecting a piece of art. 

My favourite Dries piece is this beautiful old blazer. It’s from like 1993 and you can tell it’s from the 90s. It’s the sort of thing some B-list celeb would wear to a movie premiere with jeans or something. I like things that are a little bit silly. 


Dires Van Noten and Prada shirts, Prada sweater.



I have this Prada sweater and when you tuck it inside your trousers it’s full on. I was wearing this around the newsroom once and everyone was staring at it. It’s super-subversive and I think that’s what I love about Prada in particular — it likes to fuck with you a little bit.

What draws me to Dries and to Prada is they always have a masculine and feminine energy and I’m always drawn to that about clothes. I like that they challenge masculine codes of dressing. They’re obsessed with the arts and the fund art. I just find there’s always a nice surprise in them — they’re intellectual but not pretentious. There’s a sense of humour, which I think is so important in clothes. You can’t take it too seriously.

This story was published in Metro N°441 with thanks to Showroom 22
Available here.


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Metro N°442 is Out Now.

In the Autumn 2024 issue of Metro we celebrate the best of Tāmaki Makaurau — 100 great things about life in Auckland, including our favourite florist, furniture store, cocktail, basketball court, tree, make-out spot, influencer, and psychic. The issue also includes the Metro Wine Awards, the battle over music technology company Serato, the end of The Pantograph Punch, the Billy Apple archives, a visit to Armenia, viral indie musician Lontalius, the state of fine dining, and the time we bombed West Auckland to kill a moth. Plus restaurants, movies, politics, astrology, and more.

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