Designs on high performance
The founders of Alchemy Equipment have international ambitions, with a launch at a Munich trade show in January. There, the business was selected as one of the top five new brands globally in the category of "Style".
This kickstarted the business into supplying its collection to stores in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, the US and Korea.
The heart of the business, however, is in Christchurch.
The company's shop/showroom/design space/office opened at the Tannery last month. It was a logical place to open the shop for co-founder Campbell Junor, with many design shops as neighbours, and his favourite bakery 20 metres away.
The shop is at odds with traditional outdoor brands. There are no bright colours and heavy discounts. The clothes are black, grey, brown, with a hint of dark red for women, and down jackets are priced between $400 and $550.
"We're not trying to be the cheapest," Junor says.
For him, price is the fourth consideration after quality, finish and specialness.
"More and more people are willing to find refined performance products," he says.
Junor and co-founder Quentin Hart created Alchemy Equipment last year after long careers in the design industry. Junor was creative director and co-owner of Macpac and has more than 20 years' experience working with technical clothing and equipment with brands including Fairydown and Kathmandu.
Hart worked for Tom Ford and Jasper Conran in Britain.
The pair decided to start their own equipment business so they could design the clothes they wanted to wear in town and in the mountains, without compromising on quality.
Their concept is simple: clothes that will look good in the high street, and perform in the high mountain. An alchemy between style and performance, Junor says.
The company's products are described in technical terms in Alchemy's catalogue:
Junor says outdoorsy people understand performance fabrics, especially in New Zealand.
Getting a business started can be daunting at times, Junor says.
He invested his own equity in the company - a "sizeable investment". He estimates the company will generate $1 million revenue in the 2014-15 year.
"We're building a brand that the business can grow internationally."
Leaving a comfortable position in the design industry to create a special product was risky, Junor says.
"But the riskiest thing in business is to play it safe."