Designers join forces for Thing Thing
It's not very often that two competing companies join forces, but such is the case with new clothing label Thing Thing.
Dan Buckley was the founder of Huffer, and Drew Gregory a menswear designer at Federation, before both men left their posts to branch out on their own.
Gregory and Buckley had watched each other's work for years and, after a taking break from the fashion business, they decided to combine their talents in a new venture.
Their new streetwear line, a clothing and accessories label producing both men and women's pieces, was launched last week.
Buckley, a skateboarder, and Gregory, a snowboarder, draw inspiration from their sports, and combine it with an essence of popular street style to create relaxed and wearable designs.
Although most of the pieces are pitched at teens and those in their early to mid-20s, Buckley's famous renegade attitude towards the fashion world means the range often breaks its own rules.
"We're trying to build something that's pretty original in every degree," Buckley, 38, says. "We don't want to be set in any kind of mould."
The name Thing Thing plays on the idea of two halves, or a dual-functioning entity.
One half, the women's line, is called A Beautiful Thing, and plays on a tomboyish character mixed with a lighthearted sexiness - something that Buckley and Gregory see an essence of in most Kiwi women.
The other half, the men's line, is described as A Ripping Thing - skateboarder speak for something cool and awesome. It blends hard-wearing workwear with slouchy sweatshirting, tidy, tailored pieces and Gregory's innovative and quirky prints that he has become well known for.
While the men's and women's lines are very much their own separate units, Buckley explains that the ranges also have some parallels.
"It's nice to have a couple of common links as well. So we might have a couple of colours that run across both ranges, and we might have fabrics, too, that run across both ranges."
Stocked in 30 stores nationwide, such as Amazon, Thanks and surf and skate outlets, the product is produced offshore, but finishing, washing and overdyeing are done out of the team's Auckland-based office.
This overdyeing and dip dyeing can be seen in some of the men's shirts in stores now.
Buckley has been designing clothes since he was 18, founding Huffer while he was studying his Diploma in Clothing Technology at the Auckland University of Technology.
He left at the beginning of last year after running it for about 15 years and started to design for Thing Thing.
"When I left Huffer, I contemplated jumping the fence into other industries, but then I got the urge to make stuff again."
Buckley approached Gregory about coming on board with his new brand.
"We were in the same fields so, of course, we both have had eyes on each other for a long time, with him watching my work, and me watching his work."
Gregory, 37, studied graphic design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada.
The self-taught designer also designs most of Thing Thing's prints and has worked as an art director for advertising campaigns in both the fashion industry and snowboarding industry.
Alongside designing garments, Buckley, who has always had a creative drive, has been trying his hand at product design by making specialised Thing Thing shelving units for shops.
"I consider what we are doing with Thing Thing to be some kind of artistic output," Buckley says.
"It's not like a piece of art that you hang on a wall, but because I'm a pretty spastically minded person, I couldn't do a painting after a painting after a painting.
"I've got to make a piece of clothing, or a jean or something, and that, to a degree, is art."
With this year's summer range in stores, and the autumn-winter 2013 range mostly designed already, Thing Thing is now working on its spring-summer 2013 range.
The next steps include launching the official website, which is due to go live on Saturday, and Thing Thing has a view towards international export in the not too distant future.