WOW™ - from small beginnings to iconic event

Client story  \  1 Jan 2018

Since its debut in 1987 as a small one-night show in rural Nelson, World of WearableArt™ has grown to include an internationally recognised design competition, awards show, museum and travelling exhibition. For more than 20 years, the firm has provided World of WearableArt™ with brand and intellectual property protection.


World of WearableArt™, also known as WOW™, was founded by Suzie Moncrieff in 1987 with a promotional event for a small rural art gallery in Nelson. The event was an instant success and the following year it moved to the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson. From there it continued to grow, eventually moving to Wellington and gaining audiences and entrants from around the world. The event has won many awards over the years including the Supreme New Zealand Tourism Award.

The WOW™ Awards is now a well-known international design competition. Held annually, it allows entrants from anywhere in the world to submit a garment to be part of a spectacular two hour performance. The show brings together music, dance, lighting effects, and many other art forms that vary from year to year. Each year winning garments are selected for awards in the various categories of the competition.

The World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum in Nelson is home to the collection of winning garments since the show first began. There is also an international travelling museum exhibition, showcasing garments from the past 17 years.

The challenge

WOW™ is at the cutting edge of creativity. This applies to the original and highly creative show and competition, as well as the unique and spectacular garments featured each year. Competition entries and the show’s audience continue to grow annually along with their global reach. These factors are what make WOW™ and its success unique.

As with any unique product or concept, intellectual property and a strategy for its protection are key to the continued success of the business. WOW™ has been working with the firm for more than 20 years. During this time their intellectual property needs and strategies have changed as WOW™ has grown and developed. Today, there are many aspects to the WOW™ business, including the competition, show, garments and exhibitions and the various relationships associated with each one.

“As there are so many aspects to our business including the relationships we have with others, our needs require a range of legal skills. As well as dealing with copyright and trade mark matters, the firm has assisted us with a range of commercial agreements and advice on a number of issues relevant to the entertainment industry” explains WOW™ Chief Executive, Gisella Carr.

The solution

Working closely with WOW™ for many years has enabled the firm to draw on its knowledge of the business and its range of intellectual property skills, including in the fields of trade mark, copyright, entertainment, music, domain name, commercial and contract law, to provide strategies and solutions that fit the business needs at any given time.

“Each time we meet with WOW™ there is something new and exciting happening. You can feel the creative energy and passion from everyone working in the business. As new ideas and business opportunities emerge so do some challenges from an IP perspective. Our longstanding relationship with WOW™ gives us the depth of understanding to recommend solutions that will work for them”, explains partner, Sue Ironside.

Having assisted WOW™ with their brand strategy over the years, we have worked to establish significant brand protection for WOW™ both in New Zealand and overseas. However, intellectual property challenges can still arise.

“We have encountered copycats and others trying to get too close to our name or what we do. The firm has assisted us on many occasions to come to a practical solution without getting into big legal battles” - Gisella Carr, Chief Executive, WOW™  

WOW™ currently has a strong focus on its international strategy. This includes its travelling exhibition and growing relationships with overseas designers, design schools, museums and the like. As WOW™ now has a global reach, their intellectual property protection extends offshore.

"With its extensive international networks and experience, the firm can provide the necessary support with issues that arise as we continue to expand beyond New Zealand", explain Gisella. The success of WOW™ and its founder Suzie Moncrieff are an inspiration to many and we are proud to be working with the business. In addition to creating a show that stuns audiences each year, WOW™ provides a platform from which designers and other creatives can gain recognition and explore new opportunities. For this reason, intellectual property protection is not only important to the WOW™ business but also to the designers and creatives with whom they work.

We look forward to supporting WOW™ in its continued growth and success both in New Zealand and beyond.