You may have thought I was being overly harsh about New Zealand in my last post, even unnecessarily superior. So this post is the counter point if you like, including some useful tips and suggestions should you find yourself despatched to the end of the World by your government or employer.
The sad thing is that, despite the reluctance of most men to take an interest in their appearance, there is a thriving independent designer scene and some perfectly solid antipodean high-street retailers.
Aside from Rixon Groove in Wellington, which I’ve already highlighted, if you’re in Auckland then the areas known as Parnell and Newmarket are the places to start. Parnell is mainly boutique style stores, interior design, art galleries and jewellers, not to mention cafes. Newmarket on the other hand is clothing orientated. All the outlets I encountered were home grown or from next door neighbour Australia. The creativity and originality, for a country with such a small population, really puts the monotonous high streets over here to shame.
In terms of easy high street options there is Rodd & Gunn, a very rough approximation would be a Kiwi version of Hackett -presenting a stylised notion of their nation’s sartorial traditions and qualities of manhood. That means simplicity, subtlety, comfort, practicality and quality. This last point, quality, is particularly welcome; all Rodd & Gun clothing comes with a two year guarantee. Their motto is: “If it’s not the best, we don’t sell it. If it’s not perfect, we’ll replace it. If it’s not guaranteed, it’s not Rodd & Gunn”. All the clothes have an outdoorsy feel, and they’re also the official clothier of the New Zealand All Blacks. I’ve bought bits on my sojourns to New Zealand and have been very happy.
In addition to this you have Australian retailer Country Road, a Gap equivalent, with some good basic kit and a sound overall aesthetic. If you’re looking for business shirts then try 3 Wise Men. Founded by three guys who wanted a London type shirt retailer, they approximate to TM Lewin/Thomas Pink. While they haven’t quite learnt how to copy an up market Jermyn Street shirt as Lewin’s has, they nonetheless have a nice cut and good, high, well designed fused collars, with removable collar stiffeners. I have a few of their shirts and prefer them to many London high street offerings.
So, if you find yourself out there, the sartorially inclined need not abandon hope.