Situated in the southwest Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is an island country that is composed of 2 main land masses and numerous islands.

The indigenous people are the Māori, who arrived from Polynesia in waves between the 9th and 14th centuries. Europeans came in increasing numbers towards the late 18th century. Today’s ratio is about 1:5, respectively.

Apparently, Dutch cartographers named the islands after the Dutch province, Zeeland, which eventually became a British colony. Upon independence, New Zealand went down in history as the first nation to grant women the right to vote!

A third of all New Zealanders live in Auckland, the city of sails, which lies on and around an isthmus with a harbor on each side. As the country’s most cosmopolitan city, Auckland is home to a vibrant fashion center, COCO PR, which seeks to promote and represent some of New Zealand’s most stylish brands of menswear.

Founded in January 2007 by Shideh Olafsson and Miranda Likeman, COCO PR also runs a showroom where clients’ collections are continually on display. This week, I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing Miranda. With a BA in Communications and numerous years of editorial experience in the fashion industry, Miranda is wealth of information on the topic of menswear in New Zealand.

So, Miranda, what can you tell me in general about the men’s fashion scene in New Zealand?
The men’s fashion scene in New Zealand is still developing, so there is a ton of opportunity for persuasion and direction in practically any area, as well as room for extension in a range of categories, though primary formal wear, accessories and occasion wear.

How about in relationship to the world?
The Fashion scene in New Zealand is under immense pressure to develop its own standing in the international fashion scene, and figures like Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper have proven it can be done. We can only wait and see whether a New Zealand menswear line can achieve the same success overseas.
Could you sum up for me the essence of the New Zealand male?
While the New Zealand man is comfortable in his appearance and content in his current style, which tends to be predominantly towards the casual end, he has come a long way in recent times and progress only promises to continue.
What particular characteristic would set him apart?
The New Zealand man still shrewd in his search for apparel –a bargain is an iconic part of kiwi culture and a good deal never goes unnoticed. But in saying that, there are few cost-effective solutions for the New Zealand male currently available and added competition coupled with international influences encourages NZ men to spend money on higher priced items.
New Zealand is a multicultural society… Is there a typical or stereotypical male image?
Because we are such a multicultural nation, it is innately problematic to even begin to define the ‘typical’ New Zealand male; as such a person arguably does not in fact exist. We have so many cultural influences from Europe, China, India, South Africa and more so that the NZ male has a myriad of choices and options with regards to how he wants to dress and where he selects his clothes. As a result, the fashion scene in New Zealand is incredibly diverse.
Photo top right by Duschann, Public Domain at Wikipedia.
Photo by copyright holder Ester Inbar at Wikipedia.
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