In 1989 two young Aucklanders had an idea to create one of New Zealand's leading fashion houses. This is their WORLD! Meet Francis Hooper.
We’re thrilled to be stocked in World. How did the brand begin?
35 years ago and it was a wonderful idea, 2 young Aucklanders, kinda frustrated with life really, not getting anywhere, not doing anything. Literally just thought, let's do what we love and start a business. And we started World and it's been true to itself, which is a personality brand and really lovely product that we believe in. So as a retailer we only buy and sell what we like. It's not just about the margin.
Where do you find inspiration from for the World collections?
The inspiration actually comes from the team around us, its the people around us everyday and actually we are lucky that we get our excitement from our customer and that's something that's just been a gradual thing. The only thing that we did do in the beginning when we weren’t so confident, we made a rule of never looking at magazines, and there was no internet at the time, so it made us very sure of our signature and our own signature became very strong, without copying. As otherwise by nature you think oh that's really good I want to do something like that. So we made a point of never looking at other peoples work and it was a positive for us, it made us very unique and visually different.
How many collections do you design per year?
Oh we’re lazy, we just do four, 2 women's and 2 men's a year, so we are up to our 70th collection.
How many stores does World have? And which was the first to open and when?
Four Stores, the first was in Auckland High St, we’re Aucklanders, we are very much urban and CBD people so all our stores are in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Central, and we are now in Britomart instead of High St in Auckland along with Ponsonby.
How has the retail landscape changed in New Zealand since you first started?
Oh my goodness its changed incredibly, when we first started there was no Sunday trade, Saturdays we had to shut at 1 o’clock. It was a desert. When we first opened we were very much, now in hindsight I can see, opening at a very opportunistic and positive time in retail because there was just nothing in New Zealand. It was a shithole for shoppers. We had a nirvana moment because we made these white t-shirts and printed on them and sold them, and we were one of the first stores in the country that offered customers t-shirts with prints on them. New Zealand was that barren. So we grew very quickly because we were doing cool stuff that people had never seen, or only seen overseas. And now of course New Zealand has not quite caught up with the rest of the world but definitely the internet changed everyone once it got going and the world came to everyone's phone. Retail wise, we are probably about 5 years behind everyone else, but it's a good thing, change is important.
What does a brand need to have to be stocked in World?
A brand needs to have a very strong personality. It has to have not just a good product, it's the relationship, in the end I learned the hard way that 80% of all business is relationships. If you trust the people that you work with its done and it works. And the product, you trust their business acumen, you trust their radar and their choices with your choices and so the supply chain is really positive. For us if you come into our store you have to be reasonably exclusive and really, really characterful.
The best thing about New Zealand?
The best thing is also what drives us all insane, our isolation, our personality, the NZ personality is very introverted and quite psychotic! And that's the worst and also the best thing about us. We are a small society and small cities and small everything so we are all very connected so that's a good thing. You know you ask a kiwi if you’re overseas, oh where are you from, and they say oh yeah I know where that is, I know your Mum! Nowhere else in the world has that, you go anywhere else in the world they don’t have that, and the people are hard and we’re soft and that's a good thing and we must never forget that. You think I've got to be hard to make it. No, we are so unique and that's a good thing.
World Britomart, 60 Tyler Street, Britomart Precinct, Auckland 1010
World Christchurch, 11/181 High Street, Christchurch CBD 8011
World Ponsonby, 179 Ponsonby Road, Auckland 1011
World Wellington, 102 Victoria Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011