High-end fashion boutiques World and Plume to open stores in Christchurch's McKenzie and Willis precinct by Christmas

Benny Castles, designer and director at World.

Benny Castles, designer and director at World.

Two fashion boutiques that lost their premises in Christchurch's High St in the earthquakes are reopening in the central city.

The high-end stores, World and Plume, have both leased space in the new $50 million McKenzie and Willis precinct and will open their doors by Christmas.

Before the earthquakes, World was on the corner of High and Lichfield streets. It now has an outlet at department store Ballantynes, and stores in Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown.

Plume owner and designer Margi Robertson.

Plume owner and designer Margi Robertson.

Plume had been in High St opposite C1 cafe before the earthquakes, and since then has been in Merivale. It also has its original Dunedin store.

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Lower High St had been a boutique strip before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes as small fashion stores moved into heritage buildings.

McKenzie and Willis developers and landlords 181 High St, headed by Richard Peebles, have been keen to add boutique retailers to their mixed-use precinct of eateries and offices.

The McKenzie and Willis development at the corner of High and Tuam streets in central Christchurch.
DOUG RICHARDSON

The McKenzie and Willis development at the corner of High and Tuam streets in central Christchurch.

Last year, they successfully fought off court proceedings taken by Cashel St landlords aimed at blocking retailing in the development, which is within the innovation precinct. Wedding boutique Paperswan Bride is already in the complex.

Plume's creative director and founder, Margi Robertson, said Plume had always planned to return to the central city.

"We looked at several different options but we like this area of town and the surrounding developments are exciting," she said.

Little High Eatery in the McKenzie and Willis redevelopment.
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF

Little High Eatery in the McKenzie and Willis redevelopment.

The store stocks brands including Robertson's NOM*D label, and first opened in Christchurch near the Bridge of Remembrance in 1992.

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World designer and director Benny Castles said Christchurch was one of New Zealand's exciting growth areas.

He described their new location as "fantastic" and said they were delighted to be bringing their full collection and other brands to Christchurch. The store will be their third-biggest.

Nick Doig of Colliers, who is handling the leasing of the McKenzie and Willis complex, said they were in "advanced negotiations" with other prominent fashion designers interested in the location.

"In terms of rental levels, it's an affordable area for many of these design-led stores," he said.

The McKenzie and Willis development is a complex of new buildings behind the restored facade of the old McKenzie and Willis furniture store. Other developments under way in the block include the rebuild of the Billens building, and the restoration of the Duncan's buildings.

 - Stuff

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