New Zealand is a goldfish bowl. We all know it. Nevertheless, when I went to meet Chris Dobbs, owner of Working Style, for a tour of their new Parnell store yesterday, we were both surprised at our six degrees of separation. I’ve been good friends with the head tailor of the Parnell store for years, went to high school in Christchurch with the head tailor of the Chancery Store, and stayed in New York with another former Working Style employee a few years ago.
But I digress…
What was once a simple two-room, upstairs/downstairs suit shop has expanded to become a four-room menswear experience. New additions include a full suit-hire department and an expansive open plan room with top-shelf suits, shirts, shoes, and themed fitting rooms – one even has vintage rudie pictures on the walls. (Chris was quite keen to show me THAT room but held off when he saw me blushing furiously at the mere suggestion.) The store offers the total menswear experience, made to measure, off the rack, drinkies, signed pictures of the old Bond girls and loungey couches. It’s the type of place you want to spend an afternoon at, debating your alliance to peak versus notch lapels.
Speaking of alliances, I’ve long been a staunch supporter of Crane Brothers and so I’ve always held a prejudice against Working Style. But after going in there yesterday and seeing what they do first hand, I’ve realised that I can support both companies. As Chris said to me, “I used to be freaked out by competition, but now I embrace it. It makes us all work harder to make better clothes.”
And that suits me.