Barkers Men’s Clothing (BMC) opened its doors in 1972. I was a mere twinkle in my father’s eye at that point, so my memory of vintage Barkers only extends back as far as the 90s when everybody who was anybody was rocking a pair of the labelled sweatpants alongside that tee shirt printed with an image of three power-dressed guys. More recently, Barkers has been seriously upping its game in the menswear department – first, with the introduction of Little Brother to their stores; more recently, with the appointment of Paul Biddle as Merchandise Manager (Creative Director, in English); and now, with the launch of 1972, an in-house magazine complete with articles and profiles of prominent Kiwi men (this issue includes All Blacks coach Graham Henry, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd and Little Brother boss Murray Crane).
According to Barkers, “We are all familiar with the expensive and time consuming process of putting [a lookbook] together, only to have it languish un-loved and un-thumbed in our stores. We thought; why not just make a magazine, something for people to read, something interesting and relevant?? We’ve put together a great line-up of some of New Zealand’s best journalists and columnists to interview some of the people Barkers collaborate with, as well as write features and columns about subjects we feel that you, our customers, will find entertaining and enlightening.”
I was given a preview of the new Barkers collection last week, and it includes a few pieces that I literally could not believe were created by a New Zealand chainstore. The peacoats are amazing, as is the merino knitwear (in eight colours) and there’s even a lambswool fair isle sweater in the mix. The shirting is still erring a bit on the rugby/Friday night clubwear side and the suits are largely black, but it’s a hell of a good start.
I also got up close and personal with the Little Brother duffle coat and it is a triumph – the best $399 menswear jacket I’ve seen come out of this country. (For the record, I have no commercial ties whatsoever with Little Brother, besides the fact that they occasionally advertise on this blog.)
The collection has been dropping into store over the past few weeks so do go check it out. And pick up a copy of 1972 while you’re at it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.