How did Working Style get started? With seamstress support from my mother and her friends in the Wairarapa in 1987, I began selling made-to-measure shirts, going office to office with my cloths and measuring tape.
I thought I was just filling in time between the end of my business degree and the beginning of my future career, but interest quickly took off. I conscripted my brother Tim, and we developed a suiting and accessories range, then opened a flagship store in Parnell, which is still going strong today, along with four other stores in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. All of the original founders are still at Working Style, and a second generation has started working in our stores, including the son of the man who I sold my first-ever shirt to. We’re still selling to many of the ad men, architects and professionals who were our customers at the beginning.
How did you develop your aesthetic? Our look doesn’t shout across a room, it speaks on a more personal level. The finest cloths and leathers are the building blocks for garments that are contemporary, understated and that last years. Our tailors can make fully canvassed suits out of the world’s best cloth and put on hand-stitched Milanese buttonholes. That’s the top construction available, and it’s something few companies around the world offer.
What’s it like in a Working Style store? When you walk into a store, you’re dealing with someone who’s in it for the career, who’s experienced and supremely knowledgeable about tailoring. They’ll be there the next time you visit and they’ll remember your name.
Can you tell us about the link between Working Style’s design process and archi- tecture? There are strong parallels between modernist architecture and our tailoring and we’ve highlighted this by photographing our collections in homes that inspire us like Athfield House’s organic curves, Brake House’s light-filled cedar pavilions and Vlad Cacala’s clean lines and exposed interiors. It’s our salute to enduring local design. Much like the modernist notion of removing unnecessary embellishments and exposing construction details, we’ve been doing lightweight tailoring that exposes the elegant inner workings of our garments and removes much of the excess lining that traditionally hides it. This results in something understated and soft, that flexes with movement and breathes. Gone are the days of being rigid in tailoring.
Do you suit lots of grooms? Absolutely. There are so many decisions to make and our service makes things easy. We arrange fittings with all of the groomsmen, and we create stunning outfits to flatter the groom, the father or the brothers. We know exactly how to handle wedding suiting.
What should guys look out for when buying for an occasion? A grand occasion like a wedding is an opportunity to get something a little bit more special than usual. The photographic evidence will be with you for the rest of your life so it’s important to choose something classic and properly fitted.
Have you noticed any new trends lately? Increasingly, men who are frequently suited formally for work are opting for a jacket and trouser ‘spezzato’ combination for daytime weddings, instead of matching suit garments, it’s a slightly relaxed look that perfectly suits the heat and outdoor venues for antipodean weddings. You should use your venue as a guide for your look, and take hints from your fiancée on how formal you should go to ensure you match. Sometimes a formal suit on the beach isn’t quite right. Subtle styling can make an outfit look fantastic, and clever expressions of individuality, like accessories, personalised embroidery or special linings and trims can make the big day extra special.