Glowing Sky – New Zealand Merino Clothing
Glowing Sky – New Zealand Merino Clothing
Wool is finally on the comeback trail. Coveted as a cloth for luxurious garments, resilient enough for harsh outdoor environments, the finest stuff is still found on the back of merino sheep up in the South Island’s high country.
Aficionado’s of merino wool have always known its natural attributes outperformed synthetics. Now sustainability and ethical provenance are also key influencers in customer choices and the wool of kings is enjoying a valuable advantage over its traditional rivals.
Deep down south, those qualities were never in question when Glowing Sky’s New Zealand merino clothing products, proudly made by a local sewing crew, first hit the shelves in 2005.
Now with their sixth shop about to open its doors in Akaroa and a new global e-commerce site launching to cater for their international clientele, former crayfisherman Dil Belworthy and his wife Cath realise they have come some distance since they founded the company screenprinting T-shirts out of a a small shack on Stewart Island in 1997.
Dil said their shoestring origins and determination to keep things sourced and made in the area has resonated with customers.
“A lot of New Zealanders love that we are a truly unique local company making our stuff proudly here.
“We find overseas visitors also love our story and the authentic experience of Kiwi friendliness and fun they find in our stores.
“More and more we hear from people that in a world increasingly dominated by big global corporate brands, they appreciate finding a unique genuine local company doing their own thing locally without compromise.
“We often are told that visitors love meeting real locals who are directly involved with a true local product, and that they feel our clothing represents a direct link to the place they are loving visiting. They seem endlessly fascinated by the story of a Stewart Island fisherman who started a company at the edge of the World!”
The South Island provenance that is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity starts with the wool itself Dil says.
“We only use ZQ sourced wool (a New Zealand Merino brand), and Designer Textile fabric made to our specs. All the wool we have ever used has come through our fabric supplier Designer Textiles, who have sourced solely from New Zealand merino.
“We also manufacture purely here in NZ giving us control over production sustainability, fabric handling and quality of manufacture. We feel these combine to place our merino clothing at the highest level of quality.”
With their own stores in Invercargill, Dunedin, Wanaka and on both Waiheke and Stewart islands, and a sixth getting ready to open for summer in Akaroa, Glowing Sky Merino clothing has a bricks and mortar presence which is rapidly being augmented by the global reach of e-commerce with a new website due to strong demand in online sales, Dil said.
“As you’d expect from an unlikely starting point as Stewart Island, we are looking far away. We are looking at a strategic plan that targets our own shops in overseas locations that we currently have strong visitor and online customer bases. Melbourne, Adelaide, Seattle, Vancouver, London, Stockholm.”
It will be interesting to compare it to the company’s first website which was cobbled together between fishing trips back in 1999 by Dil in his bushshirt and gumboots on Stewart Island.
“At that stage there were very few working e-commerce sites, and we understand ours is one of the oldest continuously running e-commerce sites in NZ.”
With exciting times and challenges ahead, the origins and core values of Glowing Sky could be its strongest asset.
“We are locals from the Deep South and have a huge connection to and pride for our land and people. We love to know that the Wool is from places we deeply know and love, and grown by people we know personally who share this beautiful Island of ours. Our whole team is connected in that South Island way, where we all have connections of family and friends and places and events. Being South Islanders together and proudly making our stuff here is absolutely a foundation value to us.”