#253 NZ designers feel the pinch of the recession

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It’s been a savage few weeks for New Zealand’s design and fashion industries. First, on this blog, Murray Crane announced Little Brother’s closure and subsequent distribution deal with Barkers. The very next day, news of Eon Design Centre’s receivership was made public. Then last Tuesday, Isaac Likes revealed that ACP will be shutting down Runway Reporter, “New Zealand’s online home of Fashion Quarterly”.

It didn’t end there. On Friday, in a press release sent out by PR agency Mint Condition to the fashion media, Adrian Hailwood (pictured above) announced that after seven years in retail he would be shutting down his eponymous Karangahape Rd store. “It’s not been a hard decision,” Hailwood said, “retailing from this location in this market is simply not sustainable. To continue to do what I love doing I need to focus on keeping ahead of the current climate.” The store will close in February 2009, and Hailwood will not be delivering his Winter 09 collection to stores. The label will however continue to run and trade online. Purchases can be made here.

But wait, there’s more.

Yesterday Isaac Likes heard rumours that Keith Matheson would be shutting down all its stores on 10 January 2009. A phone call this morning to Leigh Matheson, Media Contact for Keith Matheson, proved that rumour to be incorrect. Almost. According to Matheson, the Keith Matheson store in Christchurch will close down on 10 January, with the Wellington store following suit one week later. There are no plans, she said, to close down the Auckland stores.

What prompted Keith Matheson’s closures? A fire of all things. According to Leigh Matheson a fire broke out in their Parnell based workroom, destroying all stock. A quick web search found no news stories whatsoever on the fire – which is not to say that it didn’t happen – but intriguingly that no news service picked it up. Isaac Likes had heard nothing of it before today.

UPDATE: Since writing the above post I have learnt that the Keith Matheson fire was reported on both TV3’s and TVNZ’s 6pm news, but simply as a ‘warehouse fire’ rather than a Keith Matheson fire.

But New Zealand isn’t the only country hurting. High end Australian retail chain Herringbone is struggling to stay afloat, according to this news.com.au article. The company’s directors are reportedly “scrambling to raise money” from friends and family in an attempt to get the business back from administrators.

Isaac Likes has a feeling that the worst is yet to come.

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  1. Anonymous says

    More of them will fold before the end of next year; especially since most small designers have neither the finances nor the business acumen to float them through a rough patch.

    Seriously though, if they think they can keep making all these black garments, over and over again, year after year after year, and continue to stay in business, they’re quite deluded.

  2. Anonymous says

    If small designers don’t have any overheads, they are fine and will survive this storm. (ie. no rent, sharing)

    However, it’s the mid to bigger houses that will suffer – especially if they have retail outlets…

    Designers have to be really small or really big to survive this mess.

  3. Anonymous says

    I agree, I have a small wholesale business and am really happy we have not expanded so much recently.

    If we were bigger we would have so much more to lose.

    I think that if we lose a few small stores we can survive but if we were a medium sized business we would be totally screwed.

    All the same I am slightly worried about how things will go over xmas.

  4. Anonymous says

    he didn’t say he was absolutely closing up his brand.. just moving to a more profitable business model… selling on-line or through the stores of others perhaps? or have I got the wrong end of the stick here?

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