Papakura Courier

Golden jubilee for NZ garments

- NIGEL MOFFIET

Ron Jamieson had no idea how to cut a garment when he started his own clothing company.

Now the Papakura business he founded, Fashion Uniforms, is celebratin­g its 50th anniversar­y and is still producing his original designs.

Jamieson was made redundant from another uniform company when he started his enterprise in 1966.

The first factory was in Onehunga with around 12 staff.

‘‘I was a marketer, not a tailor. To have complete knowledge of the business, I learned how to cut and produce garments.

‘‘Within a short space of time I was making my own patterns,’’ he says.

The company assembled a range of workwear and its very first customer was Farmers Trading Company in Papakura with an order of around 60 garments.

The business then moved to East St, Papakura in 1973. Jamieson stayed until he sold the company in 2006.

‘‘We couldn’t get staff in Onehunga ... Papakura in those days was an outer suburb and we did manage to get good staff out there.’’

The business grew and at its peak employed around 53 people. There were also a number of challenges, Jamieson says.

Offshore manufactur­ing and economic reforms saw the company meet its greatest hurdle during the 90s.

Manufactur­ing partnershi­ps in China and Fiji were formed and now around 25 per cent of its clothing is New Zealand made.

‘‘We had to import and had a sinking lid policy with staff but didn’t have to sack anybody.’’

The company also saw the rise of more sophistica­ted working uniforms with jackets, skirts, pants and blouses.

‘‘It gets more fashionabl­e as time goes by. When we started it was more smocks and we tried to improve on that.’’

District health boards and cooperativ­e Foodstuffs are now some of its major customers.

There are now 22 staff including manufactur­ers and machinists with ‘‘unique knowledge and skills’’ at the Papakura factory.

General manager Chloe Sharplin has been at Fashion Uniforms for five years and says the company is a ‘‘survivor’’.

Its strength is making ‘‘what the customer needs and what they enjoy wearing’’, she says.

 ??  ?? Fashion Uniforms founder Ron Jamieson and general manager Chloe Sharplin at the Papakura factory.
Fashion Uniforms founder Ron Jamieson and general manager Chloe Sharplin at the Papakura factory.

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