Posts Tagged ‘Clothes’

Buying New Zealand made: Five minutes of terror – Ignite Talk – Aftermath

November 10th, 2011 3 comments

My Ignite talk when off without a hitch. A huge thanks to everyone who came to support me and laugh at my lame jokes, and much appreciation to Kristina D.C. Hoeppner for her coaching, feedback, and being my test audience over and over again.

I’ll link to the video on youtube as soon as it’s available.

If anyone considers doing one of these, please don’t underestimate how long it takes to prepare. Two weekends were lost to the preparation of this. Given the opportunity, I could have talked for half an hour. Slicing and compressing all that content into five minutes with a merciless clock ironically takes quite a bit of time.

Buying New Zealand made: Five minutes of terror – Ignite Talk

October 9th, 2011 Comments off

In one of those sterling examples of where the full implications don’t sink until much later – I volunteered for an Ignite talk about my year of only buying New Zealand made clothing.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’ll be speaking for exactly five minutes in front of close to five-hundred people at Ignite Wellington 4, at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday 8 November, 2011. An allegedly fun contest will run from 6pm, and the talks, including yours truly will run from 7:30 pm until approx 9:30 pm.

Do I have five minutes worth of content? Will my somewhat sarcastic baritone become a wavering soprano, or will I simply freeze up on the spot and have to be carted off like Han Solo in carbonite? Register, and come find out! If you don’t, the organisers will put up everything on youtube, and you can watch it that way.

Buying New Zealand made: Shirts and Shorts

March 21st, 2011 Comments off

My year of buying only New Zealand made clothes is almost at end. I made this commitment on the 5th of April, 2010. As it wore on, I became worse and worse at blogging my purchases, because I ended up going back to the same stores over and over again, and frankly, there’s only so many things you can say about a pair of suit pants. However, I did notably find a pair of organic denim shorts ($120) at Duncan & Prudence this summer, and  couple of custom printed tshirts ($60) print at the same. The shorts are excellent, and properly fit my quintessentially kiwi ass. The tshirts softened after a couple of washes and routinely garner comments wherever I go, because nobody else has anything like them. Since I’m rubbish at photography, the picture below was hacked together from D&P’s online tshirt builder. The actual shirt on the right has the pohutukawa in bright blue.


Buying New Zealand made: Cactus WK Shorts

January 17th, 2011 Comments off

Bivouac continues to get a good run out of me. The blazing heat this summer reminded me of the dearth of shorts in my wardrobe, and so about six weeks ago, I procured a pair of Cactus WK Work ShortsCactus WK Shorts for the not particularly cheap price of $139. On the upside, if I ever discover the urge to go hiking a decade from now, I’ll probably be taking these, because they won’t have worn out.

What the picture on the right doesn’t completely convey is that before they’ve been washed a few times, they stand up like that all by themselves. On first wearing, the fabric is more reminiscent of the material used to make tents, because these beasties aren’t regular twill cotton, but rather, are made from 14 oz canvas.

The care instructions tell me not to hand wash the first few times, and to “…always use a mild soap rather than the traditional NZ industrial grade laundry powder…” which I should have paid attention to, as my pair has now developed a few light character creases where they folded in the washing machine.

The construction is a fairly generic five pocket pant design, similar to a pair of cut-off jeans, with a generous fob pocket that will easily take a set of keys or a medium sized smart phone. They are quite comfy once softened up, though I would have appreciated a crotch that was perhaps an inch lower. My only real complaint is that they pick up stains with disturbing ease which do not simply brush off like such accidents would on a pair of polyester shorts – and there’s no room for weight gain, because there’s no way these will stretch. Ever.

Buying New Zealand made: Chalky digit Helipilot pants

October 5th, 2010 2 comments

Helipilot pants, by Chalkydigits

I’m working on a follow up to the question I put forward at the end of my last post, but I haven’t yet managed to massage the swirling thoughts and ideas into a cogent coda. In the meantime, I’ll talk about some new pants.

I purchased a pair of oddly named Helipilot pants made by the oddly named chalkydigits online from bivouac from their clearance sale.They were ordered on a Saturday, which the server processed and emailed me about immediately, but weren’t packaged for delivery until late Tuesday, arriving in my doorstep early Wednesday morning. Given that I paid via credit card, I would have hoped for a slightly speedier response. They were priced at $139 including delivery and GST, down from $199.

They are, surprisingly comfortable. Along with the merino jersey of toastyness, these pants are making a surprise run on being one of my favourite items in my wardrobe. The current fad of skinny jeans does not sit well on my tōtara-like thighs. The Helipilots go in the other direction and have a nice wide straight leg cut that gets excellent circulation, which is important for my Wellington wind tuned metabolism. The 60/40 polyester/cotton is good at keeping the wind out, and dries phenomenally fast. So far, it’s also proved resistant to stains, which probably says more about me than the pants.

Despite being a relatively simple cut, there’s a surprisingly large amount of subtle design work involved. The knees have folds at the side to pad out the fabric, and prevent pre-wearing. Likewise, there’s a double sewn crimp about eight centimetres above the cuff on the rear side, if you’re the type to deliberately wear out the cuffs, then this should prevent that horrible tear heading up your calf.

While I’m on the detailing work, I’ll mention out that the pair I received lack the garish logo shown on the website, instead substituting a much more refined embroidered logo on the right thigh. And finally, there’s the enormous pockets. The single rear pocket reaches all the way from the centre seam at the back to the right hand side seam, and is spacious enough to take two wallets, with ample room left over for my phone. However, this isn’t necessary, as the coin/watch pocket has bowed to modern pressure and is nicely sized and shaped to take a cellphone.

Downsides. The legs are a bit long, though the cuffs sit properly on my shoes when I’m sitting down, and cotton/poly simply doesn’t breath the way cotton or wool does.

But, they’re pretty awesome. In the half dozen days I’ve worn them since I received them, they have garnered at least a couple of comments, and despite my misgivings, nobody has accused me of wearing parachute pants.

Buying New Zealand Made: Shirts and Cloth

July 12th, 2010 Comments off

Rixon Groove has a sale on. Having put sufficient time in at the gym to get rid of the effects of my holiday indulgences, and then having gone so far as alter my profile into the bargain, this seemed like a good opportunity to address the the fact that none of my shirts fit me any more.

I had intended to see if there were any short sleeves shirts going, but alas, it’s all the winter stock. I had planned to get a couple of short sleeve shirts made up, but settled instead for getting measurements, and buying a pair of long sleeves shirts for around 50% off, for approximately $90 each.

So what exactly, does a shirt with an RRP of $180 get you apart from warm fuzzies for a supporting the local economy and a lower carbon foot print?

In a word, quality.

It’s the little things, such as buttons that are properly tied off, cuffs that end on the wrist, a tail that sits properly over a pair of jeans, a top button that can be moved if you have a big neck like I do, and of course, the quality of the fabric. The black shirt is a heavy cotton and linen mix. It wouldn’t be suitable for a hot summers day, but I can wear it in a cool office without feeling the need to don a jersey. I also purchased a purple article in exceedingly light 100% satin cotton.

Rixon Groove will also make shirts to measure. I wish I had written the detail down, but from memory, it comes down to about $160 dollars per shirt, plus materials. They have a large selection of fabrics in a swatch book, including some incredibly nice cotton from Egypt.

Buying New Zealand Made: Slippers

June 23rd, 2010 2 comments

Sheepskin slippers from Golden Fleece via NatureShop
Since I’m completely useless at crafting a cohesive argument at the moment, you can read my totally scintillating story of my (New Zealand made) slippers. They were made by Golden Fleece New Zealand, and shipped to me by Nature Shop for the princely sum of $64.00 including shipping.

I ordered the slippers on a Saturday, which shipped on Monday morning from Tauranga, and they turned up early Tuesday morning.

In hindsight, I probably should have shelled out an extra $40 and picked up sheepskin boots, as without socks, I suffer greatly from cold ankle syndrome. Otherwise, they are quite toasty, despite being very light.

Golden fleece states on on their website that they manufacture “mens and womens slippers… ….using only the best quality sheepskin available”. I find that hard to believe. The slippers are not poorly made as such, but “best quality” is pushing it. Still, the construction is solid, and $64 for New Zealand made, carbon neutral footwear is a damn good deal.

And yes, I totally stole the image from the Nature Shop website.

Buying New Zealand Made: Woollen Jacket from Mandatory

June 9th, 2010 Comments off

Green Wool Jacket, Mandatory Clothing One green wool jacket from Mandatory (108 Cuba Mall). Price; $380.

Would not look out of place while worn riding in the cupola of an army tank. Like all such military inspired gear, if I make the effort, it can look quite dashing, and if I haven’t shaved, it makes me look a bum.

The jacket is decently warm for something so thin, and does an excellent job of keeping the wind and rain out. The construction is decent, if slightly plain. The pockets are good though, using some creative stitching to keep the front storage pockets closed without fasteners, as well as providing separate hand pockets from the side. My only complaints is that the zip is about 1.5 cm short of the collar, which is somewhat annoying when you want to bundle up for that really cold weather. It would also be nice if it had been finished in merino, rather than standard wool, as the collar riding up into my chin can be a bit scratchy.

Time will tell how well it standards up to regular use (abuse?).

I have cold feet. I have ordered slippers.

Buying New Zealand Made: D&P and Mandatory

May 19th, 2010 Comments off

This weekend, I finally made my way to Duncan & Prudence (161 Riddiford Street, Newtown). While they do not manufacture all items of clothing themselves, everything I laid eyes upon appears to be made in New Zealand, often to the point where Duncan (who was quite happy to chat to me about my project) could name me the exact person who had made a given piece of clothing. In the back room of the store, they also manufacturer t-shirts, of which a speed-up montage of the process is displayed on an LCD. These retail for $60, though the quality of the cotton certainly appears to be far superior to that of your average Hallensteins shirt, and roughly on par with a Enclothe (American Apparel) tshirt.

They also stock a good variety of jeans ($195) in both organic cotton and not-so-organic cotton varieties, which I believe they also produce on-site. Apparently their experiments with organic denim showed that it does not wear as well. Chino style pants are a similar price, as are off the rack shirts, though the style of the two I tried on did not suit me, though I was impressed with the quality. There were a number of jackets, ranging in price from $289 to $438 in a variety of styles and fabrics, principally merino and synthetic.

I eventually parted with $238 for a zip up charcoal jumper, which was also available in black and with a hood. It appears that they also sell cotton underwear, thus eliminating at least one of my exception areas. At some point, I shall return, and purchase a couple of tshirts, and see how well everything holds up with wear.

Earlier in the week I stopped in at Mandatory (108 Cuba Mall) in search of a jacket after experiencing some particularly stormy weather. Likewise, I found friendly staff who were intimately familiar with their product and who led me to a reversible merino green/black hooded jacket with a synthetic inner to keep the wind out. The price tag of $420 and my Eurotrip spend-up prevented me from purchasing that night, though I suspect I will be back. They also had a good variety of shirts and pants, at around the $200 to $250 range.

I had originally considered much of what was on display at both stores prohibitively expensive, because so much of what I is purchased on sale. Nevermind that the quality was almost universally better than everything I was wearing, I simply wasn’t used to prices in that range. My favourite jeans are Levi 527′s, and they have a RRP of NZD$139. But I’ve never paid that. Consider Briscoes, it runs sales so often that people only buy things between sales if they absolutely have to. I no longer think of sales as the occasional opportunity, but as normality. Clearly, the only way to compete with that, is to provide better quality – and that comes at a price.

Buying New Zealand Made: Adventures in Online Shopping

April 29th, 2010 Comments off

It’s been nearly three weeks since I announced my New Zealand only apparel purchasing requirement. So far the results have been a lot of googling, and very little buying.

I did buy a shirt ($189) and silk tie ($119) from Rixon Groove last week for the annual Green Gala WYP ball. They are very nice, though I just about wept when the assistant gave me the price. True to my word, they were both made in New Zealand, and there is an appreciable difference in cut and quality of cloth. Time will tell how well they both last.

The week before, I broke down when trying to find a cowboy hat for a costume party, and eventually paid the $3.50 for an exceedingly lousy costume hat, knowing that I was probably only going to wear it once, possibly twice.

Generally, the experience has been incredibly frustrating. Not only because I now must walk past all the specials at Munns and Hush Puppies and feel guilty whenever I probably support child labour by purchasing cheap costume frippery, but mostly because New Zealand manufacturers and retailers seem loathe to put useful information online. Far too many websites have slogans like “More products in store!” or worse yet; “POA – Price On Application” splattered liberally over their paltry product lineup.

From the customers perspective, the point of having a website site is to avoid wasting the inordinate amount of time required to physically check every store. Clearly this point has been lost on many retailers. I personally suspect that some merchants believe that they will lose their sales edge without a human presence to badger me as I walk around their store. What really happens is that I see the above slogans and completely destroy their edge by not bothering to turn up in the first place. For any product that’s not of the electronic variety, I’m all for turning up and seeing it in person – especially clothing, where I’d like to try the item on – but I would like the opportunity to browse through the products in peace.

Therefore, if a single New Zealand manufacturer or retailer reads this and takes home one piece of advice, it should be this;

Put your catalogue online.

Put it all online. Put up prices, sizes, units left in stock, shipping costs. Put up every single piece of information you can think of, because if I can’t find out what I want to know, I’m going somewhere else. If you don’t let me buy direct from the website, I’ll go somewhere else. By the time I get to your store to try something on, I expect to know what products you offer, what sizes are available, what optional extras I can get, what colours are available, and last – but most importantly – how much it’s going to cost me.

If you are a manufacturing business only, and are genuinely not equipped to sell directly to the public, then please include links directly to retailers who do. Telling me to go scurrying around all the local stores searching for a specific item does not endear your brand to me.

This is not the eighties where I phone up for a catalogue in the mail, and it’s not the nineties where a brochureware site and a quaint “Email us for a quote” form is vaguely admissible. This is the 21st century. Please start acting like it.

Rixon Groove, this includes you.