Swanndri: Kiwi icon’s checkered road ahead

In 2007, defending his decision to move manufacturing to China, Swanndri’s former chief executive Julian Bowden said that if any product deserved to be called a Kiwi legend, it was the Swanndri.

Dear beloved Swannie. Even after all these years of not living in New Zealand, I feel a warm fondness for the old checkered shirt. But the Swanndri brand raises a number of challenges for its owners. It’s an icon with a niche market of rugged, no-nonsense blokes. So any changes need to stay true to the core customer. It’s also still a very Kiwi product, which is a disadvantage in as many markets as it is an advantage. In Australia, for example, we have our own blokes and iconic Aussie brands like Driza-Bone, Hard Yakka and R.M. Williams.

Without an additional, compelling point of difference, why would a quintessentially Aussie man buy a quintessentially Kiwi product? …

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