Field Notes


27 April 2018

Posted in: Industry, H&F Presents, Environment

The last week of April kicks off Fashion Revolution Week, where we find out who is behind the production of our clothes. This is the one week yearly that encourages consumers to ask fashion brands, who made my clothes. The consumers then hope for the response from these brands to find out who was behind the making of their clothing.
Hawes & Freer are taking part in this global campaign for the second year in a row, to have an open and honest conversation with those in our fashion industry. Who are the people in the NZ fashion industry? What is their background, and do they value the importance of NZ made clothes as much as other Kiwis do?
We have the answers. New Zealand meet the people behind your NZ made clothes.
Ronald from RJB Design

How long have you been involved in the industry and where did you start?

It’s scary when I think about how long – I started when I was 17 working through the ranks, from shop floor to assistant buyer, to running a well-established men’s clothing company and at about 23 decided to take on the UK. I had that Kiwi attitude that anything was possible, and it was. I took on the role of General Manager for Ermenegildo Zegna, established there made to measure in England and opened there new Covent Garden Store.

My wife and I only returned to New Zealand to get married but once you come back you fall in love with the country all over again, so we stayed and eventually opened RJB Design. The philosophy was to take what we had learnt in Europe and create a store that focused on made in New Zealand complimented by the best from Europe.

Why menswear?

My father got me a made to measure suit at 16 for a family wedding and it evolved from that point.

You used to get your suits made in NZ, with what has been happening lately, what has changed?

RJB Design still offers New Zealand made but we are proudly offering a made in Europe option. With the larger NZ manufacturers closing their factories in New Zealand we had to adapt to the changes – however made in New Zealand is something we are very passionate about and it is important for our clients to have the option to make in New Zealand and they still can. I would love to say it was easy to move from one manufacturer to another, but we are a small country and with the big companies closing their doors to making in New Zealand it isn’t easy. We need to nurture our locally made products and encourage more students coming through to learn the craft. 

How has this effected your point of difference?

It adds to our point of difference we can now offer New Zealand or European made to measure or bespoke from tailors that are exclusive to us. Having our client know the country of origin ensures the products quality, performance and design. It is well known that the country where products are made is the marker of quality.  

Do people appreciate the benefits of these? Why or why not?

Our clients are intelligent, they do their homework. They want to know where their garments are made and by whom.  So yes, they appreciate the benefits. We recently had a client that was getting married and he wanted to know all about where and how his wedding outfit was getting made. Through talking to him we discovered that he was avid supporter of all things New Zealand made, sustainability and knowing the history behind his purchase. He chose a completely handmade bespoke New Zealand made garment for himself and his 2-year-old son.

Just like our clients, I love to hear the stories behind our suppliers.  The fabric that was grown in the South Island and sent to Dormeuil, a family business established in 1842. The silk tie that is made from only the finest Italian silk and made in New Zealand by Parisian, who has been making in New Zealand since 1919 and is still owned by the same family.

Why should people consider getting a tailored made-to-measure suit instead of buying from the rack?

Its point of difference – Our clients can have a suit exclusively made for them.  They choose the fabric, the details, where and how their suit is made and then it’s made exclusively to fit them. 

We have clients that choose fabrics where only 100 metres is made worldwide. You can buy a beautiful suit off the rack from RJB Design or you can go that one step more and create a suit exclusive to you.

What do you think are the benefits of knowing where your clothes are made?  Especially for your customers.

Knowledge is power –Knowing where your clothes are made and the story that goes with the fabric, the make, the history gives our client the knowledge to choose what they want to wear.  They can choose made in New Zealand, made in Europe or neither – it’s their choice.  It our job to impart our knowledge and passion so they can make an informed decision.

At RJB Design you will find all the elements needed to create the total look or the ultimate wardrobe with handpicked ranges from New Zealand and Europe or by taking advantage of one of our Made to Measure services.  With extensive European experience and utilizing the best in fashion innovation RJB Design brings you a store that you can feel comfortable in making the right decision.

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