Best is on Cuba Street
In our Best of Wellington poll Capital Times readers voted Mandatory as the best men’s clothing shop and Frutti as the best shop for women’s clothing. Both are locally owned small businesses with clothing that is individual, sometimes quirky, and made in New Zealand.
Mandatory founders Clare Bowden and Fiona Edwards met at design school, but it was a few years later, when they bumped into each other at a party, that they first discussed setting up a fashion label together. They’ve now been designing, making and selling clothing to men for 15 years. Bowden says Mandatory’s secret to success is that the partners control every phase of the business from selecting fabrics, designing and making the clothes, to selling them in their Cuba Street shop. Volumes of each design are kept small and new fabrics and designs are being added every week.
“We need to keep things moving so that they’re fresh and individual,” says Bowden.
Bucking Wellington’s reputation as a city of black, Mandatory has very little in black. There are greys, but colours are a feature with silvers and blues set to be big this summer, as will linens and Italian fabrics.
Bowden says Mandatory has grown a loyal customer base both locally and internationally.
“Men tend to buy clothes when they’re away from home, so we have a large number of customers from Australia who love the New Zealand design and quality.”
Kiwi design is also centre to what they do at Frutti. The shop is a haven for original “Made in New Zealand” designer clothing and accessories, including Wellington designers Surge, Devot, Who is Dead Martin, Stylists, Own and Rush. Frutti also sells jewellery, belts and accessories, 85 percent of which are Kiwi made.
Frutti founder Sandy Jeffs, started out 20 years ago selling locally designed clothing at markets. Today her Cuba Street shop is full of colourful garments, quirky accessories and the scent of lemongrass oil.
It must also be the only clothing store in Wellington boasting its own art collection, and works by Jeff Thomson and Paul Raynor are among those hanging on its walls.
So when it comes to shopping they may call Lambton Quay the Golden Mile, but when it comes to fashion, the best of Wellington is on Cuba Street.