New Zealand’s Rodd & Gunn Brand is Conquering America

Just like Lorde, Russell Crowe and the guys from “Flight of The Conchords,” New Zealand-based men’s lifestyle brand Rodd & Gunn has found impressive success in North America. Debuting Stateside six years ago, it is sold in numerous U.S. boutiques and department stores and recently started opening its own stores in America, including one in Newport Beach, California, and a second one in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn – with more doors coming soon.

Affordable, stylish (but not too trendy), and immensely wearable, Rodd & Gunn’s wardrobe-enhancing clothes and accessories are worth more than just a gander. The company’s CEO, Michael Beagley, recently gave The Manual a look at this smart Kiwi label during a visit to its new Brooklyn outpost.

How old is Rodd & Gunn?

We go back to 1946, but its current form began in 1987. The brand and logo was developed in 1946, but our part really started in 1987. We started out as an outdoor shoots type of business and over a 20-year period we became more of a lifestyle casual brand.

Why?

Our customer has a great appreciation for going outdoors and enjoying the outdoors, but never has the time to do it. It’s the Range Rover theory, where you buy a Range Rover to go off the road, but you never get off the tarmac. We are a lifestyle brand now and we do everything that meets our customers’ lifestyles, from luggage to shoes to hats and caps – basically every part of a man’s wardrobe.

What are your current bestsellers?

Our outerwear is not weather-dependent and it has been one of the most surprising categories for me. It’s soft sports coats, jackets, and outerwear.

And the next one is footwear. I am absolutely staggered how much footwear we are doing in our own stores and the response we are getting from our wholesale partners. There is a big, huge potential for our footwear. It is all European made and it has a sensibility that fits in with our brand ethos.

What is that ethos and what sets Rodd & Gunn apart from other brands?

No one else owns a country. We own a country and have stolen New Zealand. Without paying the government anything, we have actually stolen the ethos of the country. One thing that Lord of the Rings did was put New Zealand on the map. A lot of people previously used to think that New Zealand was part of Australia or whatever. New Zealand is clean, green, and a friendly place with one of the lowest levels of corruption in the world. It’s those honest roots that we engender in our a brand.

What are the biggest highlights of the current collection?

Printed short sleeve shirts have been huge this season. We were pushing short sleeve shirts before the American consumer pushed it as a fashion thing. But at sales meetings the reps would say, “That’s a barbecue shirt.” And we’d say, “No, no. This is fashion.” Now short sleeved printed shirts are on fire. We work with Italian mills we’ve been with for 25 years or more to make them.

How big is every collection each season?

Bloody big! It’s about 400 different color-style options. In retail we deliver a new story every two weeks and we have a few sprinklings of capsules per year. So new, new, new! We’re not really into fashion but it’s keeping the energy of freshness and letting customers know that we do sell out so they should buy it now.

What’s next for the brand?

We’ve got a long way to go in America, but we are looking at different countries and are likely to do some things in the UK. But in America we’ve got our own stores in Newport Beach, here in Brooklyn, and we are opening Century City in L.A. in August, La Jolla just north of San Diego in October, and Dallas in early 2018. And then we have other things coming in behind that.

Who is the Rodd & Gunn customer, especially in North America versus New Zealand?

Our demographic is slightly younger here than we are in Australia, which is slightly younger than we are in New Zealand. But the core consumer is the guy who wants to dress up and wants to dress down, has a relaxed attitude toward life, and is not hassled by things. It caters to his lifestyle and it is sort of ageless in lots of ways. You can be 74 or 25.

From a fit point of view, we can do that more fitted European look without being as extreme as Europe. I think that one of the things that we’ve got is a mix between Europe and America that we’ve been seeing through our Southern Hemisphere eyes. So our point of view is different from everyone else’s.