Strong and effective design was a prominent theme at last night’s NZ International Business Awards, which recognise new approaches that businesses are taking to achieve international success. And it was smart design that resulted in Pumpkin Patch collecting the Judges' Supreme Award. The judges were impressed by the way Pumpkin Patch used good design to increase sales and felt it had the culture and processes in place to achieve further international success.
The entire Pumpkin Patch collection is designed by an in-house design team who garment a distinctive design signature. Part of Pumpkin Patch’s uniqueness comes from taking the latest global kids’ fashion trends and giving them a twist of New Zealand flair.
“When I visit other countries now, I don’t see a Pumpkin Patch lookalike anywhere,” says Pumpkin Patch chief executive, Maurice Prendergast. “It’s a funny thing, but it’s because Pumpkin Patch products are our own interpretation of what we see internationally in fashion. "
Pumpkin Patch designers, he says, start at the base. “They will go overseas to buy artwork, or use our in-house artists, and this acts as the inspiration for our ranges. This artwork, and our interpretation of international trends, builds from the fabric to the garment, making sure our range is unique to Pumpkin Patch.
“We’re a design-led company, and have been right from the very beginning. We don’t pick a t-shirt up off the manufacturer’s rack and say, ‘Give me one hundred of those’.”
Design is not limited to clothing with Pumpkin Patch. Every one of the 230 company-owned stores has a standardised layout, with clothing strategically placed around the store. Branding is all done in-house, as is the production of the catalogues.
Prendergast, who has been with the company for 17 years, describes the addition of Chrissy Conyngham as head of design as a milestone for the company.
“She’s been overseeing the design of the range for 17 years, and today has around 30 people working in the design and sourcing team. We have always been a design-led business.”
More than 80 percent of Pumpkin Patch’s business is now from international markets, achieving what few other specialty apparel brands have – exporting to 22 countries around the world. Pumpkin Patch is being worn by kids in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, with markets fast developing in the Middle East, India, China and Malaysia.
“Our designers make our products unique. Part of our uniqueness is that we get our inspiration from international influence, but give it our interpretation.
In summing up the winners of the night, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) chief executive, Peter Chrisp, says the winners have done the hard yards in understanding how to create value in a fast-changing and competitive global economy.
“They all have successes, failures, insights and opinions about how to export – and crucially what it takes to be an international operator whether in commodities or in design-led value add products and services,” says Chrsip.
Chrisp sat down with the chief executives from the finalists companies yesterday afternoon, to share a few stories of what has worked – and what hasn’t.
“The common themes in these stories are about growth – through differentiation, through brand, through design, through the exploitation of knowledge. And in so doing commanding higher margins. Of course all of this is underpinned by inspired, risk-taking leadership.”
You can check out the rest of the award winners HERE.