Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand made’

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 in the Bathroom, and Man Soap

February 22nd, 2011 3 comments

Over the past nine months, I’ve started looking a lot closer at where my purchases come from, particularly the items I buy on a regular basis, such as food. Some items, such as coffee, are clearly not, and never will be grown here – and that’s fine, but other items, such as garlic (China), grapes (United States), oranges (Australia, California), and tomatoes (Spain) are commercially produced here. Apart from the economic issues, I simply can’t justify supporting the thousands of air miles required for me to enjoy grapes in the middle of winter because I’m a bit impatient.

The bathroom is a little trickier.The following is a list of what I use, it’s country of origin, and roughly how much I pay at my local New World supermarket.

  • Soap – Knights Castile, Australia – $4 per 4x100g pack
  • Toothbrush – Colgate Value Pack, China – $3 per twin pack
  • Toothpaste – Colgate Triple Action, Australia- $4 per 220g
  • Razor – Schick, China  – $8 per eight pack
  • Shaving Cream – Primal Earth Aloe Hydrate, New Zealand (hah!) – $9 / 175ml
  • Deoderant – Brut roll on, Australia – $4/50ml
  • Hair gel – V05 hair putty, Australia – $9/130g

Clearly, there’s some room for improvement here. I’ve been eyeing up the shaving gear at Goodfella’s to take care of my shaving needs, if for no other reason that replacing single-use non-recyclable gear appeals to my environmental and financial sensibilities. I’ll report back once I’ve ordered a set and used it for a bit, and in all fairness, a quick bit of googling shows a variety of deodorants, for which I mainly need to locate a store for somewhere in Wellington.

Toothpaste is a bit of a problem. The evidence suggests quite strongly that fluoride based toothpaste fluoride is effective in both preventing and treating cavities. I credit this fact, along with my regular night and morning brushings as to why I still have no fillings at twenty eight. Until I can get New Zealand made fluoride toothpaste, I’ll stick to my Australian made Colgate.

Which brings me to soap.

The manufacture of soap in this country appears to be mainly the concern of middle aged woman with too much time on their hands. When browsing the various websites of soap manufacturers, phrases like, “hand crafted”, “gift baskets” and “beautifully scented” far too often.

I can’t get behind that. No self respecting straight man is going to lather himself in soap smelling of honey and strawberries. I’m not opposed to the idea, but the few of these that I’ve got up close with are overpowering, and distinctly feminine. Furthermore, this insistence on ‘hand crafted’ means they are all incredibly expensive, which isn’t helped by the high cost of the ingredients. Far too many of the soaps are made with expensive bases like olive oil (imported), palm oil (imported), coconut oil (imported), and sandalwood (imported).

However. There is a solution. Arguably, the best soap is made from tallow. Tallow is rendered beef or mutton fat. The New Zealand dairy industry has such an excess of beef fat, that it sells it in bulk for around 70 cents per kilo. I think there’s a market opportunity here. Fonterra already sells yoghurt, ice cream, and iced coffee under their Mammoth Supply Co brand. I propose that they create a related product line with the following slogan;

Mammoth Man Soap: Made from Cows

I’d buy it. I suspect more than a few other men would also, especially if they knew it was made from cows.

Update: 1-March-2011: In my under-caffeinated and sleep deprived state, I said that the study in Nature magazine proved that fluoride toothpaste did nothing, which was completely the opposite of what I meant to say. I’ve corrected this.

Update: 6-March-2011: I have purchased a Goodfella razor. First attempts did not go well. Using a good shaving cream is a must with these, otherwise, bad things happen.

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 – Jeans?

September 12th, 2010 2 comments

In my last post, I indicated that I had a side project that had chewed up a bunch of my time. As part of the Bright Ideas Challenge, my flatmate and I had been investigating the plausibility of making jeans in New Zealand. After much research and spread sheeting, we determined that it was not economically viable for us to pursue this venture.

This is not to say that it’s not viable for someone else to pursue, but in my current job as a programmer, the extra supplemental income doesn’t match what I would make by going contracting and working sixty hours a week for a bank. The hours would be the same, but with more consistent income, and without the added hassle of juggling jobs and chasing up suppliers.

Our target market was the men’s denim market at around the $140 retail per pair price point. The observant among you will note that this is approximately the price of a pair of red tab Levi’s. In order to make it worth while for both us, it would have required around the fledging company to have taken or generated around 20% of Levi’s market share in New Zealand. That’s much more difficult than it sound.

Finally – this simply isn’t our area. If you’re in fashion design and manufacturing, it might be possible to make this work, but for an accountant and a programmer, we were going to have to contract in everything, and we simply don’t have the contacts to cut the kind of deals required to make this work.

So – what did I learn?

Firstly, New Zealand suppliers are awful. In May, I gave Ross Green of Drive Technologies a hard time for his statement in a NZ Herald article where he lambasted local manufacturers for not keeping up;

“But the simple fact was we just couldn’t get the subcontractor support locally, and we couldn’t get the logistics performance locally,” he says. “Local subcontractors just didn’t understand the importance of meeting dates.”

This matched up all to well with my own experience. Almost nobody in New Zealand was willing to give quotes, talk about schedules, time frames, or anything involving numbers. Several of my calls and emails from a few weeks ago are still unanswered. One contractor said the she did not have the equipment to sew denim. I asked how many would be required to make it economic to buy the equipment – in effect, subsidising an upgrade. She was not interested in doing that as it was “too much of a hassle”. Anyone familiar with Kiwi culture may find this all too familiar.

In contrast, my discussions with overseas suppliers were much more constructive. An organic producer in Australia happily gave me a full price list with bulk discount options, and then if asked if I’d like a sample book of swatches couriered to me, even though I had stressed that we were merely at the information gathering and concept stage. That’s service.

When we purchase a good at a retail store, we pay, in part, for the convenience of not having to deal with the myriad of details that involve the supply chain. The more complications and difficulties that beset that chain, the more the final good will cost. I can’t help wondering, how much the glacial responsiveness of the New Zealand fabric and garment manufacturing industry impacts on the final price of locally made clothing.

Which brings me full circle to my original question a few months ago – if New Zealanders aren’t ready to pay workers a first world wage for common goods, how can we expect to maintain a first world lifestyle?

Buying New Zealand Made: Shoes! (McKinlays)

July 14th, 2010 2 comments

I popped into the The Last Footwear store (41 Cuba Street, Wellington) this weekend with an eye to seeing if they had any New Zealand made mens shoes. I was led directly to a range of McKinlays shoes, and ended up purchasing a pair of ‘Cargills’ for the sum of $249.


Previously, I have purchased Hush Puppies for my formal shoes, and found the quality to vary wildly between excellent and downright shoddy. So, in a complete lack of fairness, I’m giving the McKinlays exactly one chance to show themselves to be better. The leather and general all round construction is somewhat heavier than I’m used to, being more on par with a pair of safety boots than office shoes, so I have high hopes.

The downside of this heavier construction is that the shoes will need wearing in before they can be called “comfortable”. I’m hoping the corresponding advantage is that I have found a pair of shoes that will handle my endless traipsing around Wellington for more than a year before deteriorating past the point of public acceptability . The retail assistant had told me tales of shoes from the same company that had lasted ten years, and promised me that when the soles had worn out, I could return them to the store and have them resoled by the factory, for much less than a new pair. I hope these shoes turn out to be equally as sturdy.

I shall report more in six months or so once they have a bit more wear on them.

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.