Vintage New Zealand Fashion Labels

I have lots of posts brewing in my brain but I kinda don't have time to give them the energy they deserve, so here is something for the interim. A couple of months ago I was photographing my favourite labels on some of my vintage made-in-New-Zealand clothing and forgot about the pictures, so here they are. I always get super excited when I find vintage that was made here, especially when I find it in opshops. I am really interested in the history of the fabric and garment trade in NZ and I would love it if anyone has recommendations of books about it, other than The Dress Circle. There is very little information on most fashion labels from 20th century NZ and I fantasise about creating some sort on online directory of them when I have imaginary spare time. I have plenty more in my collection- El Jay, Glengyle, Ballantynes, early Dotti, Katie's, HOT Warehouse, Rico of Holland, Truly Fair, VIRUS, Lulu by Lenbry, Isadora Duncan, Reno, Thornton Hall, Andrea Biani and lots more, but these are my favourites.

'Freckles' by J. M. Bartlett & Co., from a 1950s day dress I got on Trademe, worn here aaaages ago.

My two Horrockses dresses, the first woolen one made in the UK in the 1950s and bought for a mere $30 from a vintage shop here in Wellington, worn here and the second made in New Zealand in the 1960s, picked up from an opshop for me by my friend Alex in Christchurch for $6 and worn here.

My amazing 1960s red woolen military dress by Bobbie Brooks that I thrifted when I was 15 or so for $4. I remember skipping last period (sorry, mum) on a fine Friday to go opshopping with my friends and being so happy to snag this in the middle of summer, along with some rose-print rayon shorts that I have no idea what happened to. I was wearing this in the photos used in our first ever blog post, where we were photographed by a local street style thing for the newspaper. This one deserves far more wear than I give it.

An amazing and very modest 1950s Bobbie Jean swimsuit that I plan on wearing under sheer skirts and dresses when it warms up. My friend Margot's mum sold this to me for $5 when I found it in her costume box, haha, and I've worn it here and many other times that have remained undocumented.

A Rayana Production, on a perfect 1950s royal blue velvet dress that I got off Trademe. Worn here in perhaps one of my favourite outfit posts ever.

Mod-ish 1960s Freddie Allan dress that I got from Recycle Boutique. Fun fact: soon after I moved here I saw this dress being taken to Recycle to be sold and decided that I needed it, and then 3 weeks later I saw a shop assistant pricing it and putting it out on the rack and snapped it up immediately.

Jennie Casuals, on these amazing late-1970s embroidered high-waisted short shorts that I don't think I've ever worn on here. These almost perfectly match a pair of ABBA-esque flares that I got from Two Squirrels for $5 years ago, even though I don't wear jeans- they have matching red and yellow floral embroidery.

Lots of things from this Frankie label have passed through my hands in my time at the opshops, all of them seem to be from around the 80s. I managed to persuade Christie to sell me this dress after years of coveting it openly, and it's one of my favourites. The light fabric and butt-skimmingly short length make this perfect for hot days, hence why I wore it here in Singapore.

Perhaps my favourite of all of these, California Cottons, made in New Zealand in the 1950s. EDIT: It looks like I just wasn't Googling hard enough because I found a few mentions of this label including some amazing ads here and here. Does anyone own this book and have any info on the brand? How something made in NZ can be in any way Californian is beyond me, but hey, it was a different time. I got it off Trademe for a very small price, and wore it to see Bon Iver earlier this year with purple 60s high-heeled suede mary-janes by another enduring NZ label, Andrea Biani. You can kinda see it in this terrible webcam photo.

Also I would really truly love to see other photos of labels from the vintage collections of other Kiwis, so if you have any please please send me links or email me (georgianess at gmail dot com)! I would love to do some sort of master post on them, or something.


  1. you've got some really pretty clothes, they don't make labels that interesting anymore!!

  2. I'm such a label trollop so I loved having a look at yours. The stuff the fabulous Helga sends me often has groovy vintage labels and it makes me love them even more when I wear something with a New Zealand label on them. x

  3. I have quite a few Frankie and Horrockses pieces!

  4. I love old clothing labels. I think maybe NZ just had an obsession with the US in the 50s because I've got a 'Florida' label dress that's made in NZ. I think I'll have to copy you and do a post on my vintage labels and then you can add them to your master post if you want.

  5. i love to pay a little look an vintage lables... fun names and designs ... my fave label is called 'impatient'. i think it's from the us.


  6. Hey! I am a new follower :-) nice blog, love the theme and wow I envy you because the place where you live it's beautiful. I'm from Italy :-)

  7. I really enjoyed this feature! The vintage labels are one of my favourite things about vintage clothing too! xx

  8. Jaysus,I only just saw Brodie's post on this, and obvs followed it onto yours...EEEK! I'm sure I have some Kiwi labels,def a Jennie Casuals somewhere!
    Of course,my beloved So Obviously Rex handbags are one!!!
    Liz at Advantage in Vintage collects English Horrockses frocks,incidentally!XXX

  9. I hyperventilated a bit reading this. I hunt out NZ labels, I have a few hidden in my closet, notably some Freddy Allen coat that has a massive hole in it that I need to learn to mend. You are an NZ clothing label queen!

  10. Hi there
    I couldn't help but notice that you mention California Cottons. I am a long time lover of this particular brand which was actually established in England and has NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER to California apart from the California Cotton mills. This information is according to research and speaking to sellers. If at any point you should decide to sell your CC dress, please let me know!

    Holly, UK

  11. I have a vintage Thornton Hall dress from the early 90's. It was my mum's . I am going to be listing it on trade me this week. If u are interested take a look. SellerAmb25

  12. I have a vintage Thornton Hall dress from the early 90's. It was my mum's . I am going to be listing it on trade me this week. If u are interested take a look. SellerAmb25

  13. Hello - just stopping by to say I share your love of vintage/retro made in nz labels!!
    i have put together a wee round up of blog posts featuring such things and added this one and your 2.0 post - i hope you are ok with that :)

    1. http://whatthemagpiesaw.blogspot.co.nz/p/label-love-ade-in-new-zealand.html

  14. Hello, today I found an item of made in New Zealand vintage fashion and wondered if you could shed any light on it? I have Googled the label with no success. The label says 'A Dawn Garment' Made in N.Z.

    Regards :)

  15. I also found a gorgeous dress by A dawn garment- made in nz with Google not shining much light onto its history.

  16. So interesting! What ever happened to Thornton Hall? I loved them in the 80s before I went on the OE … and stayed a bit too long …

  17. All of your posts are well written. Thank you. post free ads


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