Twenty-seven Names

Fashion Quarterly - - Profile -

On a guided tour of the in­ner city with Rachel East­ing and An­jali Ste­wart, founders and de­sign­ers of fash­ion la­bel Twenty-seven Names, I get to ex­pe­ri­ence Welling­ton’s com­mu­nity spirit first-hand. “It’s a very small scene. So ev­ery­one is good mates,” ex­plains Rachel. From their Ghuznee Street stu­dio, they take me to Cus­toms Brew Bar – home of cel­e­brated Welling­ton cof­fee com­pany, Cof­fee Supreme. Twenty-four hours into my trip and I’m feel­ing a lit­tle over-caf­feinated, so Anj sug­gests I try one of Cus­toms’ half-size ‘lit­tle red cups’, and her lo­cal knowl­edge comes up trumps. My cof­fee is dainty, but not di­lute.

From there we head to Six Bar­rel Soda. “They’re an­other Welling­ton suc­cess story,” says Anj, ex­plain­ing that Six Bar­rel’s prod­ucts (in­clud­ing a cof­fee syrup made in con­junc­tion

with Cof­fee Supreme) are stocked in cafés and eater­ies all over New Zealand. When we ar­rive, owner Joe Slater im­me­di­ately stops what he’s do­ing at the soda ma­chine to show the girls the new la­bels he’s been work­ing on. They give their seal of ap­proval in ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’.

Back out on the street, Anj ex­plains that re­la­tion­ships be­tween Welling­ton busi­ness own­ers are bol­stered by the fact that there are far fewer in­dus­try events to at­tend than there are in Auck­land. “You don’t see each other ev­ery week,” she says. “So when you do catch up you’ve ac­tu­ally got some­thing to talk about.”

With their sched­ules not over­loaded with launches and lunches, Rachel and Anj have time to fo­cus on the brand and the peo­ple and places that in­spire them. City Gallery, where they take me next, is a big one for Rachel who did a Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts at Otago Poly­tech­nic (Anj did a Bach­e­lor of Fash­ion at Otago). The fi­nal art­work Rachel cre­ated for her de­gree was dis­played at the gallery in 2007 as part of the the nan­nual Tele­com Prospect ex­hi­bi­tion. Now, she says, their ex­hi­bi­tions ro­tate ev­ery three months or so, “so we make sure we get down and see each one”.

Come Oc­to­ber, Rachel and An­jali will have been in busi­ness for 10 years. Dur­ing that time, Twen­ty­seven Names has be­come a well-oiled ma­chine, with two col­lec­tions re­leased each year. The girls also opened their third re­tail store in New­mar­ket, Auck­land, in March, and have plenty more projects in the pipe­line – our morn­ing to­gether is fairly rushed as they’re fly­ing to Syd­ney in the af­ter­noon for a busi­ness meet­ing with a mas­sive re­tailer. With so much on the go, Welling­ton’s lowkey vibe suits them per­fectly. “We hi­ber­nate so hard down here,” says Rachel. “It’s re­ally nice to be able to hun­ker down and not worry about what else is go­ing on.”

“We hi­ber­nate so hard down here. It’s re­ally

nice to be able to hun­ker down and not worry about what else

is go­ing on”

Rachel in the Twenty-seven Names


Rachel and An­jali with Joe Slater of Six Bar­rel Soda.

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