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PoliticsSeptember 20, 2023

Shop the fit: Debbie Ngarewa-Packer


This week in our campaign style series, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer mixes op shop finds, classic brands and on-trend pants she may have had since the last time they were trending.

The co-leader of Te Pāti Māori and in the running for the Te Tai Hauāuru seat, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has a knack for nodding at certain political ideas through her selection of clothing. In a profile, Charlotte Muru-Lanning notes the radical potential of Ngarewa-Packer’s style, calling it “a vivid expression of a new kind of politics”. There’s a lot of black and drama – created through voluminous silhouettes, and choices which invoke history. Her style draws on protest, but is polished and formal, equally belonging to the rooms of parliament as it does to the grassroots.

Good posture

Posture is everything but unless you wanna seem like a stuck up princess don’t go for the “I can balance books on my head” approach. Instead take a cue from Ngarewa-Packer and historical protest symbology to look powerful. If that’s not you, I can also suggest the Insta influencer classic of sucking in your tummy, leaning against the railing of a balcony with one elbow, crossing your ankles (but yeah you’re still standing up) and tilting your head to the side. Whatever you do, don’t just slouch there.

Op shop blazer

Ngarewa-Packer found her blazer in the men’s section of an op shop for about $10. My op shopping experience tells me we can all be so lucky, as those racks do tend to be full. What they don’t have is good product photography we can nab. Max claims to be selling the perfect blazer for $249.99 – it looks like it would do the trick, lots of tricks actually as I can’t imagine it not matching anything. You could certainly get distracted at this shop and accidentally buy yourself a lovely linen or green blazer, which I think would be acceptable as one day someone will invite you to a special event which requires it, just you wait. More affordable is Glassons’ oversized button front blazer (where else would a blazer button?) currently on sale for $59.99.

Adicolor classics SST track jacket 

Unless you are dressing up as a French person (I don’t see why you would do this because there are much better dress-up options) stripes are better as a detail rather than over the entire garment. On the top half, arms are the best possible stripe canvases, as they allow for the longest stripes. What I’m saying is, Adidas really got the stripes right, and there is no alternative. This classic jacket is on special at the moment – $84 down from $140. It’s a design from the 70s, but Ngarewa-Packer has really utilised it well underneath a blazer with a lovely accent in the sleeves.

Parachute pants

Ngarewa-Packer said she’s had these parachute pants for years, which is interesting because until the last year or so they hadn’t been available to buy in shops for ages. My grandmother would be very proud of her for holding onto them until fashion circled back around – they’re perfectly gorpcore, and obviously capturing the 90s and 00s renaissance. I’m going to assume most of us have grown a few centimetres up or out since the turn of the millennium, so we need to go shopping. If you’re looking for your pants to protect your legs from the biting wind, try aimn’s windbreaker parachute ones for $145. If your tween years didn’t ruin Supré for you, they have some with nice toggles for $69.

Dr Martens Audrick Ajax

Though they have the signature welt stitch, these are no ordinary Dr Martens. To begin with, there’s the chunky platform sole which, according to the website, not only looks cool but is also light-weight and comfortable. The cleated grip doesn’t look like it will be wearing down anytime soon so accidentally slipping over can be crossed off the list of embarrassing things which could happen to you. The majority of the upper is made from a fabric called “Extra Tough 50/50” a synthetic woven fabric made from 50% recycled plastic. Extra Tough 50/50 has got to be easier to wear in than the usual PU covered leather Dr Martens that tend to turn your heel-skin to ribbons. These extra tough boots currently cost $399.99 in pretty pennies (down from $499.99).

Verdict: Ngarewa-Packer suggested her total outfit was $200 including the shoes – but we here at The Spinoff are savvy about budgets. The shoes alone cost double this “estimate cost”. Either she wants to appear thrifty, didn’t even look at the price because the boots took her heart, or someone bought them for her and she did not adequately thank them for quite an expensive present. They’re considerably more expensive than any other item she’s wearing, but we must say that the price per wear must be pretty good, because she only seems to wear one other pair of shoes (white Nike Air Max 97s). 

Somehow the look manages to pull formality together with anti-establishmentarianism, lending Ngarewa-Packer both the feeling of being in opposition to power, and having a place in parliament. At its cheapest, and with blessings from the op shop gods, this fit will set you back $468.99. At its most expensive, it will be $878.98.

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