Jon Dyball

Obi Black Designer

“When kids were outside kicking soccer balls, I was inside on a sewing machine”.
Jon Dyball, Designer of Catalyst and Obi at High Society, grew up in rural Bay of Plenty, with the knowledge that he was going to be a fashion designer.

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t make clothes. I made my first pattern – a pair of shorts – when I was eight years old.”

Taken under the wing of his ‘talented and patient’ grandmother, who spotted the youngster’s creativity at an early age, Jon was taught sewing, patternmaking and cutting at an early age, principles that he still uses to this day.

“I now have my grandmother’s machine in my house that I was taught to sew on”.

Realising at 16 years old that his fashion career options were limited in Rotorua, Jon moved to Auckland and was employed by a small family-run fashion boutique on Ponsonby Road, where Jon met another inspiring mentor in Susan at Susie Bear who taught Jon the in and outs of commercial fashion design. At only 17 years of age, Jon began creating bridal and eveningwear garments for private clients.

Eleven years at Working Style Menswear followed, with Jon discovering his penchant for quality fabrics, and talent in tailoring. After tiring of creating yet another variation on the ‘blue checked shirt’, ten years ago Jon left Working Style and began his career in womenswear.

“I love the creative freedom that womenswear offers me. Once I found my niche in womenswear I have never looked back”

Jon spent six years at David Pond, another close-knit family run fashion company, and four years ago joined longstanding ragtraders High Society, as designer of the Obi and Catalyst labels.

“I consider myself the luckiest designer in the country. We have a fantastic team, and I feel so supported by the highly experienced pattermakers, cutters and machinists who work alongside me.”

Jon travels internationally, scouring the globe for the next ‘big thing’, but more importantly travels New Zealand extensively, catching up with his 80 retailers throughout New Zealand, most of whom, after his long career, he now considers friends.