News this morning that Norsewear may be sold and moved offshore. Now while i understand the factors that fource a brand to consider a move to offshore manufacturing, I do somewhat cringe when there website says things like

“We’re proud to be 100% NZ owned, with all our products being designed and made with passion in New Zealand”

Their CEO has gone on record being a staunch defender of NZ made. It reminds me of a couple of years ago when Macpac moved to far east manufacturing after spending years decrying others who had done the same – sometimes these changes create something of a credibility issue.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Ben,

    Here’s the model for clothing manufacturing in New Zealand.

    1. Have an utterly differentiated product – some mad thing that is so mad that the rest of the world gives you a wide berth.

    2. Don’t bother if price will affect your viability (and before anybody gets pious with me on that one – bugger the floating dollar if you own a gold standard.

    3. If no’s uno and due are out of reach…get used to shopping at the Warehouse.

    I wrote a story in idealog magazine about a clothing manufacturer you might enjoy

  • David – Thanks for the advice – we already do all of that, and make money, and are sustainable!

    And yep – we know of N-Zone


  • I’m proud of you Ben.
    No irony at all intended.
    You’ve got it all goin’ on.

    But I don’t think that manufacturing in New Zealand is something to be proud of. Ask yourself what your core business is. If you think it’s manufacturing you don’t get marketing.

    if I put my Master of the Universe hat on – where I’m the boss of everything and doing my strategic plan for the next thousand years or so I have to ask: do I want my people working in factories or creating IP?


    How hard is that to consider?

    Any thing that isn’t core business – outsource.

  • OK David – I’ve been happy to be corrected by you in the past s now it’s my turn. I disagree for a number of reasons.

    1) You seem to think that we can go from concept to overseas sourcing in one step. This is patently not the case. A vibrant local manufacturing scene is imperative in order for our designers to prototype and build scale. The minimums our of Asia are still sufficiently high to required a degree of scale before going down that line. Icebreaker would never have been viable with out domestic manufacturing in the early days

    2) You seem to have a surprisingly narrow view of what IP actually is. My contention is that it is much more than a concept or a brand. IP also includes competitive advantage. There are a number of brands that gain a significant competitive advantage from domestic manufacturing – mine is one of them

    3) In your analysis of the world there would seem to be no reason for Xero to cut code in Wellington – they’d outsource it to Bombay. Similarly I guess Idealog would outsource editorial content to a lower cost economy> No the reason Xero cuts code here, th reason we manufacture here and the reason that there will always be physical stuff done here is much more complex than your analysis would suggest

    I absolutely agree that we should NOT compete as a low cost manufacturer (should not / cannot). However when you ask “do I want my people working in factories or creating IP?” my answer is “I want my people working in factories to create IP!”.

    BTW – Our core business is the design and manufacture of high quality, specialist use outdoor produts. We cannot design them to their utmost potential without having a manufacturing presence here and similarly we cannot manufacture them well without design. It’s a feedback look that requires both sides of the equation

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