T-shirts have become an artform, a canvas for wit and quips, and there’s nobody better at showing off uniquely Kiwi phraseology on a shirt than Christchurch-based Global Culture.
What started nearly 40 years ago as a simple screenprinting business has become a national brand with outlets in tourist towns and a growing online shop. The Global Culture retail brand is best known for its early tees incorporating clever reflections on the Kiwi way of life and our passion for sport.
Now it has seven stores and two branded franchise branches, plus some ‘store within a store’ concepts; three years ago it added Alpine Island New Zealand-made merino, outdoor wear and accessories to its range, and last year jewellery and giftware.
“Designing T-shirts and controlling our own network of shops has given us an unrivalled opportunity to draw on clever graphic designs, strong colours and kiwiana,” says retail manager Jessica Fearnley.
“The market for T-shirts has moved. Now a large part of our market is smartly casual, modern urban people."
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
“Most people that run a business from a Christchurch base have a new take on what business risk means now,” says managing director Chris Brocket. Global Culture lost its concession in the Auckland Airport international terminal and then the earthquakes forced it to shift its factory and review its business strategy and processes.
However, the company is planning on expansion nationally this year and is focusing on two areas.
One is creating a sharper brand positioning and point of difference – the team sees a ‘sweet spot’ in bringing together New Zealand-made jewellery, accessories and giftware with the same focus on design, quality and art.
It's also working on expanding into Wellington, Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, and to that end, is looking for other retailers that might be keen to work together.
“Our existing stores have a mix of 45 percent locals and 55 percent overseas visitors as customers," he says – the Global Culture slogan is "worn out all over the world".
"We want to talk to retail partners in towns where there are both local shoppers and the traveller market."