Company of Strangers Store

by Insiders Dunedin

Since its inception in 2008, Company of Strangers has seduced a cult following with a proudly 100% New Zealand made range of high-quality garments, leather and jewellery. Garments are meticulous yet experimental reflecting a modern simplicity, combining luxury fabrics with contemporary functionality. Particular consideration is taken to create silhouettes that are strong, but sensual, timeless, pieces that are adaptable to any wardrobe and any season. COS have hand selected the best local craftsmen to manufacture their products to ensure the highest quality is maintained. With this brand what you see is what you get, these are investment pieces that are built to last. Kelly O'Shea from the brand's flagship retail space called Company Store explains to us the store's ethos, who their customers are and explains the importance of having regular in store art installations. 

Tell us about the Company of Strangers aesthetic and how it is embodied in the store?
The Company of Strangers aesthetic is influenced by art, architecture and rock n roll muses, and of course the amazing design team Sara Munro, Amelia Hope and Diane Rohtmets who scheme and dream right here in Dunedin!  This results in a beautiful balance between the darkly subversive, while still being feminine and romantic.  Because of this cross over there can be a lot of room for experimentation and diversity in the design process.  This paired with luxury fabrics and artist collaboration means a pretty lush display of garments in the store dominating the look and feel of the place.  The garments are shown in store on industrial style racks next to white walls, a painted concrete floor and alongside some powerful contemporary art by local artist Phillip James Frost, finally topped of by the earthy tones of Moroccan rugs and lush greenery.

What made COS open a flagship store?  
After such successful beginnings for early COS pieces within national stockists and beyond, it felt like a natural progression to support the brand even further by opening a shop of our own!  This has given us an opportunity to showcase our seasonal collections all in one place.  It also means we can compliment the Company of Strangers aesthetic with some of our biggest fashion crushes, pairing up national and international designers with our unique Dunedin style.

What are some of the other labels sold in store and where do they come from?
We host clothing by: Daniel Palillo (Helenski, Finland), Lela Jacobs (NZ),  Equipment (France), P.A.M (AUS), Emma Mullholand (AUS), Strangelove (NZ).  To compliment these collections we have an exciting range of accessories too like; Underground Sundae (Melb, AUS), Pamela Love (NY,USA) Blue Blank leather (Auk, NZ) &Attorney footwear (AUS), Valley Eyewear (AUS) and our course own now Company of Strangers Jewellery and Leather range too.  Accompanied by Aesop Skincare (AUS) , and George and Edi candles (NZ).  Later this month we are introducing Frame Denim to our store, we are the first store to have this brand in New Zealand so are very excited about showing this to our customers! 

What are your customers like?
Our customers are as diverse as our pieces!  We have a fantastic range of customers of all ages and aesthetics, from fashion lovers to the first time shoppers looking for something locally made or totally unique.  

What experience do you try to create for your customers?
A friendly and personal one.  We believe that everyone should feel welcome in the store and leave feeling that way too. We would like our customers to feel like they had an experience beyond the usual shopping engagement, whether that is from trying on an amazing garment, or having a great chat with one of us!  And because each piece we stock is so beautifully hand -crafted and special, we endeavour to treat our customers in the same way so they know they have left our store with a real indulgence.

What are some of the differences between running an online store and a brick and mortar store?
Well despite the geographical challenges,  we find having both the online store and a physical location a complimentary balance when engaging with our customers.  In both meetings we try and make it as personal as possible. All online store customers receive a handwritten postcard with every purchase just so we can go beyond the computer which is important in this day and age.  Even our local customers use the online shop for valuable research into our pieces so they are all ready to try on when the come to the store.  So the online store is a really handy tool to extend our pieces nationally and into the world, while being able to invite those customers from afar the opportunity to visit when they are in town too.

You hold regular in store art installations that become window displays can you tell us about that?
COS has a strong history of exploring the area between fashion and contemporary art, so the window series means our designers can have fun and push the more abstract inspirations behind their collections. Currently Blue Blank has a installation in the window, showcasing her latest leather bags and accessories but also having fun with composition and different materials too. It means that the shop is ever changing, and having a dynamic window extends out into the street through people stopping to take a moment to just look.  Art is a pretty powerful way to engage people and hopefully compel them to come inside too!

Company Store
320 George Street
Dunedin, 9016 
New Zealand 
+64 (3) 471 8969



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