MURRAY AND ANGELA BEVAN
PR DIRECTOR / MODELLING AGENCY FOUNDER
If you’re a brand looking to make a splash on the New Zealand fashion scene, few would dispute that Murray Bevan is your man. With an enviable client roster, this mastermind behind some of the country’s most stylish events and activations — not to mention gatekeeper of every important NZFW guest list — is like the godfather of the local fashion industry; his PR company, Showroom 22, the Corleone compound. Of course, big sister Angela Bevan has another way of putting it. “He’s a bit like the Pied Piper,” she remarks. “As in, lots of people following and listening to his whistle and doing what he says.”
Fittingly, if there’s one person Murray could be said to have followed in the footsteps of, it’s Angela. A model scout and founder of non-traditional Auckland-based modelling agencies Hoipolloi (1999-2001) and more recently The Others (established 2016), Angela discovered many of New Zealand’s breakout modelling stars, including Zippora Seven, Derya Parlak and Sophia Frankish. Also a freelance writer with communications and marketing experience, she was appointed head of editorial at Britomart Group in 2016 — a role that involves editing the celebrated fashion, food and business precinct’s self-titled, biannual magazine.
Before all of this, however, Angela made her start as a sales assistant at Karen Walker — and set her younger brother’s career in motion while she was at it. “At a staff meeting one night,” recalls Murray, “Karen and [husband and business partner] Mikhail Gherman asked if anyone knew of someone who could come in and do odd jobs. Angela volunteered me and the rest is history.”
The facts of that history are as follows: Murray spent two years at Karen Walker, delivering stock to boutiques, helping retail staff and personally assisting the big boss. During this time he established the connections (including with Karen and Mikhail, who remain close friends and key clients) and developed the skills he needed to go out on his own. And that’s exactly what he did — opening Showroom 22, which celebrates its 16th birthday in April, when he was just 22.
It was a bold beginning that, to this day, Angela talks about with pride. “Murray took a big leap as a very young man to start this thing that nobody really understood, and that lots of people probably thought wouldn’t work.” But work it did, and as a consequence Murray has been able to repay his sister’s favour on many occasions. “Auckland’s a small town so Angela and I open doors for each other in different ways. Sometimes a quick introduction over email blossoms into an opportunity years down the track,” he explains.
Working in the same industry has other advantages. “We are good sounding boards for each other because we are never going to go, ‘I don’t know that person,’ or ‘I don’t get it,’” says Angela, adding that a mutual understanding of and appreciation for each other’s work means she and Murray can be very genuine in their encouragement. “And with the industry landscape ever-changing, we know what challenges our futures might hold so we can nut those out together too.”
With no shortage of shared work acquaintances and overlapping projects to discuss, Angela admits that keeping shop talk to a minimum at family events can be difficult. “But we would never let it consume us and it would never have the power to challenge our friendship.” Both agree that Angela’s three sons — in particular 20-year-old Myer, who Murray is especially close to — keep them grounded. “That’s the main thing that keeps us from drowning in industry gossip,” says Angela. “We’ve always had much more important things to talk about.”
And indeed, Angela’s proudest professional achievement isn’t fashion industry-related. It’s to do, instead, with bringing about a memorandum of understanding between community and family services charity Lifewise and the YMCA, which has allowed homeless youth in crisis to be housed quickly while waiting for permanent help. “She commits many personal hours to helping others less fortunate than herself — namely the homeless and imprisoned — catch a break,” says Murray.
It’s a trait that he has always admired in his big sister. Another is her patient persistence. “So many people expect overnight success, but Ange isn’t one of them,” he says, adding that people new to the industry “don’t get it until they’ve been in the trenches for a while”. And on the odd occasion that Murray forgets his own words to live by? You can bet it’s Angela giving him the refresher course. “Where our work crosses over, there’s no conflict,” she says, before Murray cuts in with one exception. “Maybe when I think a story deserves a cover and a six-page spread and my sister tells me I’ll get 50 words and a thumbnail image!”
Siblings Angela and Murray Bevan.