Monday, June 20, 2011

Interview: Jane Robertson of Bird Boutique

Photo: Deb Smith
If there is a sartorial oasis in the middle of Hamilton, as incongruous as that may sound, it is Casabella Lane, off Barton Street in the city centre. For a region better known for cowbells, woollen singlets and gumboots, Jane Robertson's three fab stores; Bird Boutique, Maude and The Clothes Horse provide welcome relief and do much in their own way to beautify the city. Readers of Black issue 12 may have read of Jane's importance to the Zambesi label before love took her to the Waikato.

Black: Jane, why Hamilton?

Jane Robertson: After spending 25 years living in Auckland, I moved to Hamilton late 2005 for marriage reasons and I soon realised the need for a beautiful women's fashion store.

B: Tell us about your long term relationship with Liz and Neville Findlay and the Zambesi label.

JR. I started working for Liz and Neville Findlay in the late 70's and part way through the 80's. It was such an incredible time, the economy was very buoyant. Liz and Neville had started wholesaling the Zambesi brand to exclusive stores around NZ. Liz was very inspired by Japanese fashion, its designers, their construction and use of fabric and she travelled regularly to Japan. Zambesi is such an iconic New Zealand brand, it's so genius....sophisticated in a very edgy timeless way. You really get so much pleasure wearing their pieces. It's not about dotting I's and crossing T's. Talking about my time working for the Findlays and Zambesi conjures up quite a few was a real sense of belonging, they were like family. I feel like their ambassador. It's such a priviledge to have 'Zambesi' at 'Bird'.

B: What did you learn from Liz and bring to Bird Boutique and Casabella Lane

JR: To appreciate beautifully constructed garments and fabric, do what feels right and don't get caught up in what others may say or think. Be passionate and enjoy the journey. Liz  has true 'Mana' she's one of the most grounded people I know, I greatly admire her....hard working, unflappable with amazing values. I think it's really important to value what's important - your health, family, friends and to love your craft whatever it may be.

B: Explain Casabella Lane

A. The best destination shopping in Hamilton's CBD. Reminiscent of the type of little lane's you'd find around the Marais in's very quaint.

B: Which labels do you stock and why do you stock them?

JR: Zambesi, Beth Ellery, Camille Howie, Katie Battersby, Ingrid Starnes, Pearl, A La Robe, Standard Issue, Tologa Bay.... NZ designer's consistantly delivering beautifully constructed interesting garments.
International brands stocked are Mina Perhonen, Kristensendu Nord, David Szetso, Jac & Jack, Acne, Graham and Spencer, Velvet T's and still evolving.

B: Does Bird have an online store?

JR: We don't offer online shopping (at this stage). The site is to entice and delight and to showcase our other stores Maude and The Clothes Horse.

B: Tell us about Maude?

JR: Maude is a beautiful new store in Casabella Lane stocking shoes and accessories designed and created by some of the best makers from around the world.

B: The Clothes Horse?

JR: Designer recycle clothing, it sits in the loft above Maude.

B: Who is involved in the shots on the website, photographer and model etc.

JR: It has been such priviledge to have the amazingly talented Deborah and Mark Smith work on the images for the site. Apart from directing the shoot, Deb organised the lovely fresh look model Molly, Matt Stevens (Deb's talented brother in law) is the web designer and Alan Deare is the graphic designer extraordinaire from Area Design Hamilton.

B: What's trucking out of 'Bird at the moment.

JR: Everything...there's alway's bits and pieces coming and going.

B: What do you hope Bird to be

JR: A very talked about store.

B: Bird in three words

JR: Very beautiful clothing.

Bird Boutique, Maude and The Clothes Horse, Casabella Lane, Hamilton. Ph: +64 7 838 3180