Company of Strangers
Sara Munro’s Company of Strangers label balances a hard edge look with sexy femininity in the shapes she creates and the fabrics she chooses to work with.
It began with school holidays spent with her grandmother learning the calming meditative art of needlepoint, which led to a love of hand-sewing. Sara also learnt to knit and crochet, but she admits that finding enough time nowadays to stitch is impossible. Her mother still keeps busy, though, hand-knitting the scarves that appear in Company of Stranger's collections.
Sara's mother taught her to use a sewing machine, which she later broke trying to make a leather bag. Her first sewing project was a chartreuse bustier top made from an old t-shirt, inspired by Sara's childhood fashion icon, Madonna. However, Sara deemed the top a little too provocative to wear (she was only 12) and hid it from her mother.
Another project was an orange satin wrap skirt with contrasting purple ribbon, and matching backpack. The ensemble plus several other garments were part of a determined and, consequently, successful submission for fashion school.
Cheryl Vuillermin's gothic, grungy designs in the 1990s truly awakened Sara's fashion senses. When Sara was about 14, she tacked Cheryl's look book to her bedroom wall. "I thought it was so awesome and it made me want to make clothes."
Having completed an Otago Polytechnic fashion degree, Sara first worked as an outworker for NOM*d hand stitching rosettes made from mens’ vintage ties in her Wellington flat. After a stint adapting patterns in a Wellington workroom she returned to Dunedin to be a sample maker at NOM*d, where she spent six years honing her knowledge and skills. She has also practised photography and designed jewellery, bags and leather wear (Otago Daily Times, 3 April 2014).
Company of Strangers was born in 2008 and her Dunedin retail outlet opened in 2013. Sara loves building interesting creative relationships, and often collaborates with other designers including Harley Jones on prints, Anne Meike Ytsma and her Underground Sundae jewellery, Dr Margo Barton for millinery and Chaos and Harmony for footwear.
Text by Jane Malthus and Sarah-Jane Rowland. Banner image by Jane Dawber, © Otago Daily Times.
Published March 2015.