Seems like yesterday when Maggie and I first set out on our Swazi Adventure. We had three kids under the age of 3 and if that wasn’t enough work, we decided to begin an outdoor clothing company. The skin market had just crashed. I decided if I was an expert at any one thing, it was getting wet and cold. Maybe that knowledge gained as a trapper could be used to create durable gear to keep outdoor folk dry and warm.
I remember shipments of fabric arriving at home, filling our old garage to bursting point – in fact for a while the overflow was stored in our bedroom. We used to clamber over a mountain of polar fleece just to find our bed. Of course, the kids all thought it was a huge amount of fun!
We opened our first plant in the old Levin Railway Station. I painted the bottom half of the station in the Bruce tartan. As a child my mother had often told me the story of Robert the Bruce, as he sat in a cave, watching a spider repeatedly trying to string a web. The spider showed great fortitude and eventually succeeded, as did the Bruce in his next battle. I’ve always admired people who get back up when they have been knocked down.
Right from the outset people took an interest in what we were building. A brand that wasn’t about clothing. Wasn’t about me. It was a brand built around our customers. Our creed here at Swazi, if you like, has always been it is our customers who are legends. And it is their deeds which are legendary. In marketing talk it’s called a Brand Community. I prefer the word Clan. Today I consider myself to be both privileged and extremely lucky to have met so many amazing people along the track. The cool thing is, I know in the years to come I will meet even more.
Those early days were heady days, alive with pace and passion. New technology, and a focus on bringing our customers the very best in outdoor clothing and equipment. Swazi gear then, as now, was considered to be fresh, innovative and practical. Bushmans Tees, Micro Tops, Driback® pants with waterproof seats, quiet rainwear... There is always some pretty darn cool stuff being rolled out of the Swazi stable.
As to be expected I guess, people copied so many of our products. Hell, there are some companies who have copied just about everything we’ve ever made! They tell us things like, you should be flattered we’re taking your designs to China to make. Wow.
No. I’m not flattered. Not then and not now. These people don’t just steal our designs, they steal jobs from decent folk here in New Zealand. Progress? Hmmm. I liken it to greed. Honour and integrity? You be the judge.
In a world where consumerism, complete with its throw-away mentality, has become the accepted norm, why then do we continue to craft our products here in New Zealand? Again, it’s not about the clothing. It’s about our people. People with self-esteem, selfrespect and a belief in a better world. People who make a difference.
Swazi people do make a difference. And what a huge difference it is! Both here in New Zealand and around the planet, there are countless projects being undertaken by Swazi Clansmen; conservation programmes, search and rescue, activities with outdoor youth adventure and journeys of self-discovery.
For those who work outdoors, Swazi represents more than just good gear. They too are aware the small shield on their clothing sets them apart from the ordinary, from the mundane. Because that shield truly stands for something. Swazi is more than clothing? You bet your bottom dollar it is!
How exciting then at this point of the journey we set off on another Swazi adventure. From the moment you read this, Swazi will become available to you DIRECT.
You can order online on this website, by phone or by mail-order.
Welcome to Clan Swazi. We look forward to getting to know you on a more personal basis. We are confident that we can make the world a better place. Together we can make this a reality.
DAVEY HUGHESLevin, New Zealand