Fashion industry favorite Julia Ford still chooses to have fun in her wardrobe

The brilliant star Julia Ford and her husband are behind Sweepstake Winners, the gender-neutral clothing brand known for its bold design.


The brilliant star Julia Ford and her husband are behind Sweepstake Winners, the gender-neutral clothing brand known for its bold design.

Julia Ford (Ngāti Kahungunu) wears many hats, and even more pairs of heels. She was the first full-time employee of shoe designer Kathryn Wilson, starting in 2011. Her role as creative director of companies is varied; she designs collections with Wilson and also deals with wholesale customers.

At the end of 2018, Ford launched Sweepstake Winners with her husband, and the genderless clothing brand became known for its bold design.

It’s “born out of Matt and my mutual love for style and fashion,” she says. “I found myself rummaging through her wardrobe frequently and we were most often drawn to the same things when we were shopping for new pieces.”

Ford has been obsessed with silk scarves for as long as she can remember.


Ford has been obsessed with silk scarves for as long as she can remember.

This inspired them to create a selection of wardrobe staples, which are “playful, unique and perhaps didn’t fit traditional gender ideals.” Working within the confines of an already busy life, the contest winners do not adhere to the traditional seasonal versions. Instead, they make custom orders and release capsules when they have new – and still natural – textiles to work with.

* Kelly Christie brings a more inclusive approach to vintage shopping
* Anny Ma is a proud dress repeater
* Designer Natalie Bradburn is always impeccable
* Shaneel Lal: “As a trans person, the way I dress dictates my safety”

The business grows, but not without help. Ford is working with Te Puni Kōkiri to create cadet positions for Maori rangatahi who want to learn more about the industry.

“I currently have two cadets, one working on digital marketing and another learning the ropes of design and production. I love being able to share my experiences and knowledge with this young generation, help them launch their own careers and expand our little whanau of like-minded creative souls.

Five objects that I own and love

Wedding rings

My husband Matt and I got married in Las Vegas at the end of 2019, in a last minute, very unplanned ceremony at the Little White Wedding Chapel (sorry mom!). We went to the mall and picked our rings around 10pm and got married at midnight.

This little diamond ouroboros ring spoke to me as soon as I saw it. To celebrate a wedding of a different kind, Kathryn gave me another matching ouroboros ring for my 10th anniversary with the company.

Andy Warhol Eau de Toilette

It was originally my husband’s cologne, which I adopted as mine – not too sweet, neither feminine nor masculine, it’s my favorite scent.

We are currently at a dangerously low level, I look forward to being able to pick up more the next time we can travel.

competition winners track pants

For a long time, I couldn’t conceive of having regularly rotating sweatpants in my wardrobe, but the past two years have changed that.

That being said, if I have to wear them, they might as well be colorful and fun and made from 100% recycled cotton.

Hermes Sauvagine en Vol vintage silk scarf

I have been obsessed with silk scarves for as long as I can remember. Growing up I loved studying hand painted designs and I was obsessed with knotting cards for all the different ways I could style them.

I inherited this one from a best friend’s mother when she passed away, it’s the most valuable in my collection.

gucci bag

I bought this at Ginza several years ago and think it sums up my shopping philosophy perfectly: Always go for the funniest and most exciting colourway and you will love it forever.

Four things I would like to own

Kathryn Wilson ‘Delacroix’ pumps

The perfect style to unwind after a few months at home. They’re super comfy with the chunky heel and in my favorite shade of kelly green.

Bottega Veneta ‘Mount’ bag

It is not so much a desire, it is rather a need! I love the outrageously oversized gold chain and the ocher leather will pair well with just about any outfit.

Stine Goya dress

This colorful banana leaf print screams summer and the simple and timeless shape of this dress means you can wear it in different ways throughout the seasons.

Jacquemus sunglasses

I love bold, colorful frames and they are no more cheerful than these hot pink and orange numbers – my favorite color combination for this summer.


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