Thoughts on New Zealand

Advertisement

new-zealand-thoughts

New Zealand is a country with so much to offer, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you visit it at least once. Indeed, my recent second visit left just as profound a mark as my first.

However, for all my admiration I think if I lived there I would go off my rocker. Firstly, I didn’t see one attractive woman – other than the one I took with me. Secondly, and most importantly, Kiwi men are utterly unrepentant in their desire to dress badly. Indeed, they almost revel in it.

Any kind of interest in clothing is viewed as effeminate. It was as though the last forty years in male clothing and grooming hadn’t happened. Something as common place in Europe as a pink shirt is viewed with the very greatest suspicion. I was even pilloried for deck shoes. It was considered great sport by my girlfriend’s family to get me to wear a pair of jandals (read flip-flops).

So what do I mean by badly dressed? For the most part I’m talking about a complete a lack of flair, care, quality and above all effort. The antipodean stereotype of stubbies (short short), singlet and work boots was all too common. But even going out to dinner it was not uncommon to see men in flip-flops. At best you’d see an excess of the purely mundane – poorly tailored jeans and uninspiring tops and trainers or work boots.

In some ways this is a factor of the outdoorsy, active lifestyle New Zealand provides. You’re not going to wear a linen suit on the beach, but there are ways to dress well and comfortably. Well tailored shorts and polo provides both comfort and, depending on colour and pattern, a degree of relaxed elegance, if done right. For the most part all I saw were men throwing on cheap, scruffy clothes without effort or care. Harmony of pattern and colour was for the most part absent.

Of course every country has its poorly dressed contingent, even in metropolitan centres. But for all the country’s natural beauty, even in the most cosmopolitan of NZ’s cities, I still couldn’t claim to have seen anyone I regarded as well dressed.


Advertisement

Andrew Williams blogs at www.bespokeme.com and is based in London. For him style is a frame of mind not just a state of dress.

Comments

  1. Steve says:

    I notice your comment at the end about finding the same thing in cosmopolitan centres but I’d contend that all of what you describe is found outside of Auckland.

    Certainly the areas outside Auckland tend to be as you describe. The biggest culture shock I had moving to the other side of the globe (Auckland to London) was not from the locals but from the ex-pat contingent who were not amused but actually annoyed by my attire.

    As for the women, well, let’s just say I’m glad to be here :)

  2. Andrew says:

    That’s an interesting point about the ex-pat community, and I certainly thought Auckland was better.

  3. keith says:

    agree wholeheartedly.

    It’s even harder for a local who’s trying to change the way he dresses.

    Having said that, what it has made me do is learn the art of dressing well without standing out like a peacock.

    If you were in wellington and auckland, you should have seen at least some attractive women. Well, at least tourists?
    haha

  4. Raymond says:

    Andrew, I am a Kiwi living in London and I have to agree more or less. I think NZ men don’t dress ‘stylishly’ but I have to say I quite like the ‘independent I don’t give a toss’ style that we have going. Obviously a few NZers won’t take it too well though I don’t think having a go at you is going to do any good apart from painting us immature as well as badly dressed. I loved the article and found it very funny. I thought I’d probably have a go at someone about being gay if they wore a pink shirt but only very good-humoredly. I have several myself! I’ve been telling my Pommy mates for years that Kiwi birds are average and was pleased that finally someone said it!
    However, I think you Poms should be a bit worried as the more ‘fat’ is accepted as ok as it seems to be recently then you’re not exactly going to have a new batch of lookers yourself. That doesn’t mean to say Kiwi girls are fat, just a little rural perhaps. Good work on the article but you yourself sound a bit gay. Haha.

  5. SC says:

    Lifestyle, culture and clothing reflect each other. I’d rather have the relaxed lifestyle of NZ than the workaholic, keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle of London, even if it means being surrounded by “badly dressed” people. Your opinions about “style” and what is “good style” are just that, opinions, and totally subjective. If you couldn’t live somewhere because you consider the people’s style to be inferior, that really reveals something about your values. Likewise your comments about the attractiveness of NZ women are totally subjective. As for women farting, I’ve seen drunk women urinate in the street in the UK. I’ve only lived here for four years, in all my years in NZ I’ve never seen that! Anyway, women are human too! Also, you should consider how many NZers saw your style, or perhaps in their eyes, lack of style. Shoes at the beach in NZ are considered as bizarre as jandals on Bond Street in London! The vast majority of NZers are less hung up on class and status than the British, and I think this is also reflected in their dressing styles. By the way, I’d be interested to know what your girlfriend’s family think of your comments now they’ve ended up in NZ’s biggest newspaper. Can’t say my family would be too thrilled in the same situation, especially since your girlfriend’s family seem to have gone out of their way to host and entertain you.

  6. Blair Haddow says:

    Well don’t you sound like an absolute plonker with your over generalised comments about New Zealand or perhaps you are one of the many pale balding Londoners that sleeps on a mattress on the floor in some damp basement flat and spends all his money on D&G at Harvey Nicks, like the many Londoners i met when i lived there for 4 years. You visit the most beautiful country in the World when most Kiwis I know including myself are enjoying summer ( do you know what this is) at their bach ( holiday home )with family and friends. Yes I can wear my Ozwald Boateng to a gallery opening, function or fabulous restaurant just like you, you small minded twat, but i certainly didn’t have an opportunity to wear my FLIP FLOPS when i lived in the UK unless i went on holiday to spain where you see the most feral english people dressed in the most appalling summer clothes one could eber imagine. So get your head out of your arse and open your eyes.

  7. I normally do not weigh in on article debates that I am nothing to do with but I thought the comments were beginning to sound a little unfair.

    “you yourself sound a bit gay. Haha”?

    “you are one of the many pale balding Londoners”?

    “you small minded twat”?

    It’s nice to see that New Zealanders take commentary on their style with such grace.

    “the most beautiful country in the World”

    You’ve visited every country in the world then, have you?

    “I quite like the ‘independent I don’t give a toss’ style that we have going. Obviously a few NZers won’t take it too well”

    If you ‘don’t give a toss’ then, why do you actually give a toss?

    I don’t necessarily share all of Andrew’s views on this point but there are a number of personal attacks on him that disappoint me a little. He generalised, from his own experiences, but it is unlikely that he has met or even seen any of the commentators that have reacted with such passion. I like debate and encourage it heartily but instead of explaining why New Zealand’s relaxed style is actually a valid style of its own, and has its own measure of creativity, it seems the most popular reaction is to direct anger at London (bizarre), Andrew and British people in general (which, in relation to the Spain-holiday goers, I actually agree with).

    That New Zealanders are actually visiting Mensflair is perfect evidence that there are style-conscious Kiwis who are, perhaps, interested in more than the relaxed style of their homeland.

  8. SC says:

    I think the tone of most people’s comments is similar to the tone of Andrew’s original post. Since these comments were printed in the NZ Herald (Auckland’s daily newspaper) I suspect some of the people commenting here have found their way to Mensflair just to comment! If Andrew was really interested in starting a debate about “NZ style(s)” he would have written differently, and would have received more responses elucidating said style(s). Andrew says “It was a throwaway line to see if I could rattle a few people and get a response”, which is what he has got, rather than a debate. He also says “But if you want to go to dinner in flip-flops, you can’t scratch your head and wonder why you’re not in the GQ best-dressed list.” Personally I’ve never had a conversation with any NZer about this and I’m curious to know if Andrew has.

    Link to the NZ Herald article:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10620665

    and Isaac Hinden-Miller’s blog about ‘Thoughts on NZ’:
    http://www.isaaclikes.com/2010/01/1031-dressing-habits-of-nz-man-addendum.html
    The comments here are maybe more what Winston Chesterfield is looking for.

  9. Steve says:

    “the ‘independent I don’t give a toss’ style that we have going.”

    - absolute nonsense. Most of NZ is incredibly uptight about anything not fitting in with their point of view. The biggest displays of prejudice I’ve seen have not come from the more stylish amongst us but from “middle New Zealanders” who are desperate to wear the right thing and to not wear anything stylish.

    As for New Zealanders who actually have style and are offended by Mr Williams’ comments, note that he recommended Rodd and Gunn and Country Road, so clearly has no taste himself!

  10. Greg says:

    Prince Philip said it years ago and it stands true today, NZers are the worst dressed people in the world. When I come home to NZ I fall in to the trap of not giving a damn fairly quickly and find myself wearing track suit pants in the shopping mall and bare feet to the supermarket, at least I fit in.

    The women look like men. As soon as a woman is 30 she cuts her hair short and dyes it some godawful shade of red or blond.

    Even in business on NZ’s so called ‘Bond Street’ people are wearing poorly fitted suits right off the rack made of even poorer fabric.

    The only thing you missed is the amount of truly obese people walking the streets!

  11. Andrew says:

    Most of your comments are surely based on the style of dress in Hamilton, which is hardly surprising. It would be like me traveling to Liverpool and saying “I can’t believe how badly all these Scousers and Chavs dress. Anyone would think they were of a lower class.” Had you spent more time in Auckland and been in the right places you’d have seen the style you were looking for. Sorry, but for someone who has lived in NZ and traveled to dozens of countries around the globe I’d have to say you couldn’t be more wrong.

    And as for the women, perhaps you should cast an eye back to the orange-tinted, muffin top having, classless tarts over in the UK. You see, people from NZ can travel and critique your country too and from what I’ve seen over there, the only beautiful women are those visiting London from abroad. Once again, shall I suggest that your trip to bum-fuck Hamilton was not the best place to base your analysis of NZ on.

    Let me conclude this small rant by saying that you, sir, fail miserably.

  12. Trevor says:

    Winston,
    Please understand that Andrew impugning our women demands a robust retort. It is disrespectful. How would you feel if someone came over to your neck of the woods and demeaned the quality of Britain’s young men? I’ll wager you’d feel miffed.
    Furthermore it rankles just a little that a chap with a fashion heritage boasting little more innovation than tweed and the necktie can come over here, judge New Zealand on the basis of Hamilton over the holidays and then declare that we should be wearing more polo shirts. Clearly Andrew is merely reflecting his own beliefs, but still the cheek of the fellow!

  13. Richard Prosser says:

    I can’t think of anything more sad than to be trapped in a world so shallow, with a life so pointless, and a mind so small, as to regard something as vaccuous and irrelevant as fashion, to be of any importance whatsoever.

    You poor sad townie git.

  14. Che says:

    Andrew,

    I challenge you to a fist fight for slandering our women.

    Please name a time and place to settle this matter.

    The rest of your post was very entertaining.

    Cheers

    p.s. awaiting your reply ;)

    pp.s. winging Kiwis sound much much worse than winging Poms.

  15. Kai says:

    Why so much hate for the author? This article is written half-seriously and probably there’s some truth in it. Though I’m not a fan of that comment about women I think it meant that he hadn’t met a woman that took care for her appearance. The same that applied for men.

  16. Grant says:

    Wow – what a load of grossly, over generalised nonsense Andrew.

    I think your opinions are misguided & unfair, both to Kiwi women & Kiwi men.

    Your comments especially about Kiwi women are particularly unfair, as for one, you hardly saw every woman in New Zealand did you! However you state “Firstly, I didn’t see one attractive woman” – go figure.

    This sort of misguided drivel that you write, are purely loaded remarks, which deserve equally loaded responses, which I see you are rightfully receiving.

    Are you frustrated with the fact that New Zealand hammers your country at Rugby nearly every game? Surely, that must hurt, after all, you guys invented the game. :)

    I feel sorry for your Kiwi girlfriend, having to put up with such an upstart such as yourself. Her parents must feel hurt by your remarks & for your girlfriends sake & her parents, lets hope your relationship goes no further.

    New Zealander’s generally have a laid back attitude & most people that visit our country love that, because it’s so vastly different from their own country. We don’t have such a class society like the English & we quite frankly, we like it like that.

    New Zealand has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world & it’s good to note that cared enough not to trash that as well. Maybe go to the Far North, Bay of Islands, Mount Maunganui, Coromandel & the South Island next time you venture down our way. Don’t expect everyone to be dressed up to the hilt though, because in New Zealand, we actually have a Summer & we get to enjoy the sun, so we dress appropriately. You must be enjoying your English Winter now, -18 degree celsius temperatures in Winter, maybe it’s making feel depressed, hence your outlandish remarks?

    It’s very disappointing to read your comments & it indicates a total lack of insight on your behalf. I’m sure if a New Zealander trashed the English women or the way English men dress, like you did, you might be a bit miffed as well.

    Please think before you write next time, about your offensive remarks.

  17. Barry says:

    Never been here before. Judging from the comments from many of my countrymen, you might have mentioned in your article the number of touchy morons that inhabit this beautiful land.

  18. Try not to take the negative comments too much to heart, Andrew. The sorry state of Kiwi men’s dress sense is something I’ve been blogging about since moving home 2 years ago.

    Jeans and chambray shirts still seem to be acceptable attire for a wedding. Polar fleeces appropriate for the office.

    In our defence, we don’t have the large, well priced, cutting edge department stores (topshop, zara etc etc), that democratise fashion in the UK.

    Even so, however endemic to Kiwi males’ lack of interest in dressing well is the antipodean culture of ‘laid back’ – ever ready to drop work and hit the beach in board shorts and jandals. It is also underpinned by a subtle fear of looking like a ‘bloody shirtlifter’.

    Ironic, given the homo-erotic overtones of our national sport.

    I commend you for your brave honesty. Perhaps a little negative international press will tuck a few shirts in.

  19. Justin Thyme says:

    Andrew – well said. As an Englishman living in NZ I would say that most of your comments are spot on. New Zealanders in general lack style, confidence and class and have a huge chip on one shoulder about Australia and a matching one on the other about England. In Auckland, which many of those above seem to think you couldn’t possibly have been talking about, status anxiety is rampant and much of middle class society is riven with desperation and neurosis. In many circles there is some sort of shared delusion that they are not living in an insignificant backwater but are somehow intimately connected with the true style capitals like London, New York and Paris. Its all pretty tragic. As for all the comments about NZ being “the most beautiful country in the world” – they must surely be made by those who have never been to England, Scotland, France, Italy, Scandinavia etc etc.
    Don’t get me started on the women – let’s just say any form of glamour or style is rarely encountered. Heavy drinking and promiscuity are far more prevalent.

  20. John says:

    Hey Selwyn – Andrew admitted this, relating to his remarks “Andrew says “It was a throwaway line to see if I could rattle a few people and get a response” to which he did get a response.

    Therefore he is getting what he deserves & thus his opinions are null & void.

    I suggest you STFU & stop trying to inflame the situation.

    Are you Andrews ex boyfriend?

  21. John says:

    @ Justin

    You call the rest infested, rubbish strewn streets of London “true style” – good game mate.

    You call the drunken’ louts fighting in the streets of London “true style” as well?

    I think you have been walking around with your head up your arse for too long & have forgotten what London is really like.

    If you have so many complaints about NZ, then fuck off back to Britain.

    Finally, NZ does have “some” of the most beautiful scenery in the world, I have spoken to countless tourists & all they love it here & are taken away with the beauty.

  22. Gareth Down says:

    All I say say is that you, Andrew, are a bit of a tosser (a great term I picked up in England). England is the only place in the world that I have seen what I would roughly describe as women walking on a beach in high heels. Which shows the mentality of the locals, and perhaps yourself.

    After spending 10 years in the UK and then coming home to NZ, the contrast is amazing, gone are the slappers (another great term) walking around smothered in make up. Gone are the idiot males all wearing the same clothes, and haircuts so that they fit in. The woman over there are generally awful looking, whether rich or chavs. Your view of the world is bent by the sh*thole of a country that you live in, there is a bigger world out there, and it doesn’t all look like yours.

  23. Jason says:

    You speak the truth. I just got back from there: a beautiful country but the women all look like butch men-wannabes…
    They wear big shorts and tshirts and have thick arms. They have short lesbo hair and are gross.

  24. John says:

    What’s wrong with lesbians Jason?

    Are you one of those little English fags who wears a pink shirt & enjoys taking it up the behind?

  25. Steph says:

    hahhaha these comments are amazing, so hilarious and well said!! keep them coming! (particulary enjoyed your comment Gareth Down)

  26. E ] Smith says:

    Andrew who…?

  27. Brian says:

    I think you’ve missed the point. Kiwis generally see things differently and couldn’t give a toss about clothes or fashion. It’s quite refreshing. As for the women, mate, your binge-drinking, chav scum, muffin-top, pie-eating, fat slags seen spewing on the streets every Saturday night are hardly an advert for feminine beauty.

  28. Simon says:

    lol, you come to a different country, on the other side of the world, in a different hemisphere, in a different climate, with a different culture and different national history, during a different season to the season your country is currently in, BUT you think your ideas of good fashion/good looks should be the same as in your country?
    …..yeah WHATEVER!

  29. @john
    Thank you for illustrating my point that most kiwi men assume anyone who takes pride in their appearance must be gay. I’m not sure if you’re comically ironic, or just plain stupid. Either way, I’ll bet your badly dressed. on a wider note, i do wish we’d learn not to break out in a national rash every time somebody says something bad about new zealand.

  30. form ge says:

    Hey Andrew is that you in the photo?

  31. Vernon says:

    I have been here since I was a baby and though normally derisive of Godszone I cant bear to join sides here in the deciding of NZ’s merit.

    If you like to hunt or fish NZ is great. If you like a temperate climate with no dangerous critters NZ is great. I could work hard and save for a house in 2 years or much less in country towns, in NZ it is is still quite easy to own your house.

    I have had plenty of attractive kiwi girlfriends, but they have all been nuts

  32. form ge says:

    Calm down lads and ladies, it was obviously not to be taken too seriously. The result of all this does show how proud we are as a nation…so that’s good.

    Andrew, if it is you in the photo, then you may have a bunch of revenging rugby heads hunting you down in London wanting to cave your face in, whilst repeatedly saying “what you say about my women!”

  33. AColourfulGuyDrowning says:

    Hi Andrew,

    here’s my response to your article on my own blog: http://acolourfulguydrowning.blogspot.com/2010/01/andrew-williams-kiwi-men-revel-in.html

    In all honesty, when I first moved to Auckland from the US 11 years ago I thought Kiwi guys dressed shockingly bad also. However, after being here awhile I understand why they do: Really nice clothes are shockingly expensive in NZ and the inexpensive local stuff is horrible. Also, the very laidback Kiwi lifestyle isn’t really conducive to high fashion.

    In writing all of the above, I do like to dress well and have managed just fine to do so here despite some obstacles. However, the stuff I like is mostly Italian, the local stuff I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  34. kim says:

    I love the way NZ men dress, I think they are sexy, and manly, I lived in Europe (not just London) for 4 years, and I hated the fact that everyone got dressed up to go to the supermarket, thats not pride thats vanity. So as a good looking kiwi female I don’t agree with you about the male attire… mind you most men are better with their clothes off than on… and what makes the man, certainly not the clothes… personality everytime. As to your comment about ugly woman, thats cause we don’t need 3 inch make up to make us look we pretty… read article re Great Barrier woman… cocky english woman go there thinking they are the bees knees,and the men laugh.

    Each to there own!

  35. Kylie says:

    As a good looking half-Kiwi female, I’m offended!

    And just because a bloke doesn’t ponce around in designer gear doesn’t mean they’re ugly.

  36. Steve Hale says:

    Kia Ora Andrew,
    To be honest I don’t know any NZ blokes who wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worried sick about which scarf we’re going to wear the next day to match their shoes. Call me a philistine but men who work physically tough, draining jobs generally dont worry too much about playing dress up. Many of us live a pretty hardy outdoors life here. Your generalisations make you sound a tad pretencious and snobby. NZ isnt about outdoing everyone else, you obviously dont understand our lifestyle or culture. I’m pretty well travelled to and am able to accept that some cultures place more importance on different things. We arent out to impress everyone here on a daily basis and we certainly dont earn the amount of coin you do to flit around sampling designer labels. Next time you are over here, give me a bell and I will happily take you into the bush for a pig hunt. Then you might be able to appreciate what the sterotypical NZ male is all about.

  37. Steph says:

    haha ha I enjoyed your comment Steve Hale. So true!
    Comment by Simon on the 17th summed it up really well too.
    All these comments are so well written it’s really cool to read :)

  38. Jimbo says:

    “All these comments are so well written it’s really cool to read”

    It’s official. Kiwis have an inferiority complex.

    In actual fact, this series of comments is one of the worst adverts for New Zealand I have ever seen.

  39. winston says:

    New Zealanders dun take too kindly to any form of criticism at all.
    Once there was a survey on foreign students in NZ. A few of the comments were like
    ” NZ is beautiful and peaceful but boring”

    You should see the number of angry comments after that. A lot of them were in the form of
    “Go home, if you dun like it”

    Just my observation, which is true,
    With regards to dress sense, i dress shabbily but dun really care. Cheers

  40. Sean says:

    I don’t think citizen’s of *any country* would appreciate generalised & nasty comments about them.

    These comments were directed at New Zealander’s in general & all they show are Andrew’s very superficial opinions.

    He has not taking into account that in NZ we have a completely different lifestyle to that of his homeland & WE LIKE IT LIKE THAT!!

    Maybe he should man up & get a real job, instead of commenting on clothes – how boring!

  41. I’m part Maori/Raro/European from Auckland originally, and I wholeheartedly agree. I guess it’s the weather that means the people tend to opt for comfort over style. Am now living in Leeds and the woman over here, no matter what age take great care of themselves, and always seem too look their best the moment they walk out the door. I take greater care of my appearance here, and slip straight back into the shorts, tshirt and jandals mentality whenever I head back home.

  42. Mike Selwyn says:

    I agree with most of what Andrew says.

    NZ’s culture is deeply rooted in sport and the rural environment; it is only very recently that we have begun to discover what might constitute high fashion and haute couture.

    Indeed, we live in a fairly cloistered environment. Our newspapers devote two or three pages of their 40 to world news, which is pathetic.

    Our woman are indeed unattractive. Although this is a very polite term for Andrew to use. I would term them feral. Although English women are hardly a lot better, and he has a Kiwi girlfriend!

    I do think we need to lift our game, but when you live in Paradise why would you bother?