The Future of Crane Brothers

Crane Brothers’ success as a leading menswear fashion brand

A stalwart presence in the sometimes fickle world of fashion, Crane Brothers’ success as a leading menswear fashion brand comes down to its fidelity to tailoring excellence and to the consistently excellent customer service in store.

Crane Brothers, under the stewardship of founder Murray Crane, has encountered many twists and turns in a quarter of a century. Founded in 1999 in an abandoned hotel space on Auckland’s High Street, the brand began life, and remains, a contemporary men’s tailor. In the realm of fashion, change is the only constant, yet an unwavering commitment to a quality product and service remains integral to the brand’s success, as does the original flagship store, which has recently undergone a significant renovation.

Twenty-five years ago, the menswear market was a vastly different landscape. Although traditional tailoring was and continues to be the foundation of menswear, it was lacking in innovation and modernity — something Murray Crane identified while working for iconic New Zealand brand Zambesi, and which would later inform his own brand.

“I was travelling to Europe regularly during the 90s, which exposed me to groundbreaking brands like Costume National, Helmut Lang and Paul Smith, designers that were really modernising traditional tailoring, which fascinated me.

“New Zealand’s market has unique needs, distinct from other markets, so as a brand, we’ve always embraced our Antipodean roots and ensured we focus on making styles relevant to local tastes, budgets, and climates.”

Crane’s European travels underscored the importance of quality in both materials and workmanship. Crane Brothers garments are characterised by their simplicity and cleanliness, leaving no room for error. This meticulous attention to detail ensures that every piece stands the test of time, a fact proven by clients who return with suits bought 10, 15, or even 20 years ago. These suits, often remodeled or passed down through generations, are a testament to the enduring quality and craftsmanship that define the brand.

Crane Brothers proudly serves a multigenerational clientele, with many having experienced a milestone moment in the brand’s early days and remained loyal over a lifetime, while the brand has simultaneously attracted a new generation of clients. Murray attributes these long-standing relationships to the brand’s unwavering commitment to customer service. Spending most of his time in his stores reinforces his belief that the retail experience is central to the brand’s success:

‘New Zealand’s market has unique needs, distinct from other markets, so as a brand, we’ve always embraced our Antipodean roots and ensured we focus on making styles relevant to local tastes, budgets, and climates.’

ABOVE: Founder Murray Crane sources fabrics and accessories from European businesses with shared multigenerational values.

Photo by Lato Photography.

“At Crane Brothers, the customer always comes first – and the retail experience is at the core of everything we do. This philosophy is deeply ingrained in my team and what I believe sets us apart from others.”

“The beauty of made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring is that we can create a product for anyone who walks through our doors. We don’t limit ourselves to one category or niche. While our clients are predominantly male, we’ve also tailored men’s suits for women. Our clients are wide-ranging – tradesmen, professionals, artists, judges. Like-minded individuals who value passion and craftsmanship gravitate toward us, regardless of their industry or vocation.

It’s widely known that Crane Brothers is the definitive destination for grooms and groomsmen. Many who walk through the doors of the esteemed High Street store in Auckland’s CBD have always dreamed of getting their wedding suit from Crane Brothers. Murray believes the wedding market is a good barometer of what’s happening in fashion overall.

“Weddings have always been significant events, but in recent years, grooms have placed more emphasis on their attire. Traditionally, weddings focused on the bride, but now men are keen to dress up, influenced by spousal pressure and the desire to look good for themselves. The rise of formal weddings, despite the casualisation of daily wear, reflects this shift. Men now have fewer opportunities to dress up, so when special occasions arise, they embrace the chance to go all out, often choosing tuxedos for their ultimate formality and style.”

“There’s also been a shift towards smaller weddings, with fewer guests, more intimate venues, and more discreet ceremonies. However, grooms and guests still want to dress up, so this aspect hasn’t changed. A made-to-measure tuxedo or suit is still seen as an investment and a non-negotiable part of the wedding budget.”

“We offer a personalised service, including a post-wedding valet for suits. This attention to detail and genuine engagement with our clients make the experience special. We become invested in their big day, ensuring everything is perfect, which sets the standard for our brand.”

Murray has always been a style advocate for the wedding industry. In recent years, he and his team have forged close relationships with leading bridal designers such as Juliette Hogan, Katie Yeung of Hera Couture, Anita Turner of Vinka Design, and most recently, Caitlin Crisp.

“There’s a lot of synergy with what these brands are creating in the bridal space and how we collaborate with our grooms. For instance, they may share a colour palette or style of gown so that we can coordinate it with suits and shirts to ensure a cohesive look across the wedding.”

This collaborative approach ensures greater consistency throughout the wedding. Smaller guest lists mean more harmonised elements. Despite fewer attendees, budgets often remain the same, allowing for more investment in details like fashion, florals, styling, cuisine, and upscale venues. The result is more curated and picturesque weddings that reflect each couple’s unique personalities rather than sticking to traditional norms.

Once a made-to-measure relationship is established, whether for a wedding or another milestone moment, it often marks the beginning of a marriage of sorts. Wearing Crane Brothers makes it hard to settle for anything less, and clients genuinely enjoy being part of the Crane Brothers community.

If you choose a Crane Brothers made-to-measure suit, there’s a high chance you’ll personally experience the exceptional service and skill that Murray and his team are known for.

A big part of that success is the partnerships Murray has fostered with his Italian artisans.

“Our ‘Made in Italy’ label signifies a truly vertically integrated product. Everything, from mills and accessories to fabric and production, happens in Italy. We’ve collaborated with some of these suppliers for over 20 years, forming intergenerational relationships with skilled artisans.”

“Italy has a deep pride in handmade products. There’s no stigma in working with your hands or in an atelier. Many artisans are happy creating beautiful products, like the team at our suit factory, where three generations of women— grandmother, mother, and daughter — work on the intricate Barcheta pocket on our suit coats.”

This hand-crafted detail, impossible to replicate by machine, symbolises the quality and tradition of Italian production and encapsulates the essence of Murray’s partnerships and the pride in craftsmanship that defines Crane Brothers: timeless quality and tailoring that transcends trends.

“As Miuccia Prada so eloquently put it, ‘Elegance is what stays with you, not fashion’.”

What will Murray be focusing on over the next 25 years, in order to remain the authoritative brand for tailoring and menswear in New Zealand?

“Looking back, I’m proud of where the brand has come from and where we are today. The brand signifiers that we always look to, and will continue to, are important now more than ever: quality, craftsmanship, endurance, not just for the suit itself, but the man who’s carrying himself in it. What does that look like now? What does that look like in another 25 years?

“In the changing landscape we find ourselves in, it always comes back to our clients: how can we enhance their experience? How can we improve our products and delivery? What unexpected touches can make our client’s experience truly memorable? How can we continue to excel alongside them?

“We are nothing without our clients. They influence every move we make. This is something we all take extremely seriously. I am always amazed by the level of support and love for the brand we receive from clients new and old. We are privileged to be intimately involved in some of the most significant moments they will experience and that level of trust is something I will always take very seriously.”

See more here: | @cranebrothers