The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

2AWA: Best apparel store

by Joanna on November 16, 2007 in TAWA

Whether you’re a nu-rave kid or a glorified dandy, being well-dressed is partly a matter of taste. Nevertheless, if you’re keen to spend some time on your personal appearance, you’d do well to start out with these Wellington stores for clothes and/or accessories.

Does my bum look big in this? Who cares if it’s big – it looks awesome!

Get dressed after the jump

A. Dandylion

Dandylion is tucked away in the Left Back near that anarchist hotbed Oblong. Lorene Harris’s shop is big on the kind of individuality that will help you fit in on Cuba St. To get your indie on, or to dress appropriately for a big trip to Dunedin float on down to Dandylion. A lot of the clothes and accessories are made from recycled materials, there are second-hand shoes, hand-selected op-shop finery for hire and a goodly range of zines. Lorene’s own zine is easy to spot; pink and adorned with cherries, filled with poetry and sketches, handmade on beautiful paper with the pages sewn together. Nice, very nice.

But we digress, this category is about being best dressed after all. Everything you need to be well put together is here – bags, belts, shoes, badges and the old craft fair favourite; hand-knitted fingerless gloves. If you want to keep in real in the down to earth NZ socially responsible style without tipping over into feral territory I recommend that you let Loren’s sewing machine do the sewing, leaving you more time for activism and gardening, both of which are worthy pursuits.

B. Good as Gold


Good as Gold certainly has a reputation around town; owner Reuben (of David Hartnell’s best-dressed fame) has created some kind of a following with stylists, sneaker freaks, and young neon set. If you can pull off a cropped distressed denim waistcoat, bold fluro prints or/and that oversized thing that the Japanese kids do so well, all power to you and you may well have found your spiritual home. A hoodie purchased at Good as Gold can be spotted by a trained eye among the weekend crowds in Wellington, so if you are in need of this wardrobe staple you best check them out. A recent visit on a rainy day saw a stylist popping in for a chat, a girl shopping for skater gears for her boyfriend and an extremely stylish dog just kicking it with the staff. Something about dog plus crates plus streetwear plus toys plus mags feels very Japan influenced. Bring on the Asian Invasion we say, we guess these urban yoof culture shops have a similar flavour all around the world influenced by international design magazines and urban environments. The coffee machine is sadly now gone but on the plus side there is now a whole lot of room to display sneakers – priorities eh? If you are already a fan show some love and vote Good as Gold.

C. House of Hank + Wellington Hatters


How did we live without a Greek fisherman’s cap? What would we do without a tweed trilby to match a hacking jacket? The irrepressibly energetic Hank Cubitt will help you stand out from the baseball-capped masses, and his shop is a godsend for the well-dressed chap or chapette about town. Hmm, we think that a Fez would be just the thing for summer…

WINNER!!!
D. Madame Fancy Pants


If you truly aspire to be best dressed it takes more than just brand clothes picked from the pages of glossy magazines. The clothes alone at MFP are exquisite, you would well attired for high tea or a jaunt around Soho or Omotesando outfitted in their unique and well-made garments but what really sets them apart is the dizzying array of accoutrements.

Our first introduction to Madame Fancy Pants was wandering up Cuba (like you do) and seeing someone applying fabulous gold birds to the walls of the yet to be realised shop. We later found out that these gold birds were actually silk-screened wallpaper from New York. Not long after, a chandelier appeared, then all manner of goodies made themselves at home on the shelves and hooks. Since then we have been a window licker/tire kicker par excellence, crossing the road frequently to stare longingly at the beautiful vaginally inspired Anatomy of F jewellery made by Japanese jeweler Kyo Hashimoto. Mannequins attired in beautiful crisp cotton blouses and silk skirts with wooden buttons inspire us to a higher tax bracket or some damage on the credit card.
This shop reminds more of a zakka-yathan just a straight up clothes shop. Jewellery, check. Shoes, check. Fabulous baby wear, check. Whimsical stationary and badges check.

Wellington is well served by shops with a tight focus on Aotearoa-designed and made goods. The Vault and Beckon on Willis St spring to mind, we also have shops like Iko Iko and PopUp that bring the Asian and pop-art inspired goodness. What Madame Fancy Pants does well is bring that international feel with a fantastic shop design, beautiful clothes from Australian and NZ designers and accoutrements from all over. Our wish list grows exponentially with each visit due to the warm inviting attitude of the staff and the steady stream of new stock. Top of our lusted after list at the moment are a pair of these shoes and as good fortune would have it, the shop conveniently has little want cards perfect for dropping around as little birthday hints…

Ask the staff for the story behind the Lola and Bailey range of necklaces (but we have dibs on fourth kiss so don’t you dare!) Soooooooo romantic. While the prices of goods such as this delicious Deadly Ponies handbag are a bit ‘aspirational’ for some Cuba St denizens, we think this shop deserves to be a destination for those seeking something well made. May they succeed and prosper.

E. Mandatory

What could be better than stylish yet comfortable locally-designed menswear? Buying it in a shop with charming and expert staff who are always happy to find you the one pair of trousers that maximises your gluteal pulchritude, that’s what. To top it off, Clare and Fiona are tireless promoters of the Wellington fashion and creative scenes, and their pieces somehow manage to be both directional and timeless at the same time.

F. Ziggurat

Kate Bryant, current owner of Cuba St vintage retailer Ziggurat, surely counts as a Wellington fashion institution. Not only does Kate dress herself jaw-droppingly well – two consecutive weekends at the Mighty Mighty have seen her appear in a daring jumpsuit/racing car driver on acid one-piece, followed by a latino frock split up to here and accessorised in spectacular style – but she has also been dressing and influencing Wellingtonians for years with her distinctive sense of style. Co-founder of Ripe clothing back in the brightly coloured ’90s, Kate left Wellington after going it alone with a Ripe store, also on Cuba , but her travels around the world styling and dressmaking eventually brought her back home, where she bought up and drastically revived the old Ziggurat boutique.

Once a Kelburn-Karori navy-and-stripes maven haven, Ziggurat now boasts the most mouth-watering collection of vintage and retro frocks, accessories and everyday wear (that is, if your everyday dressing routine involves looking sharp as a snake, cute as a button and perfectly pressed – I know mine does). Closely related to the man behind another of the nominees in this category, one has to wonder what the Bryant familia were putting in Kate and Ruben’s (and artist brother Jarad’s) cereal in their formative years – and can we have some please?

Joanna McLeod

Joanna McLeod has started calling herself the Empress of the Internet because she can. As well as wrangling the other site contributors and Getting Shit Done, she likes to eat, drink and write in equal amounts. Yes, she would love to be invited along to your event in order to do those things. Joanna's also the best person to talk to if you're interested in advertising on the site.

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