Remember your first pair of Barkers trackpants? The famous Kiwi brand today celebrates 40 years in the business.
The older they get, the better they feel. My pair are faded and baggy and handed down from a former flatmate and I love them. My introduction to Barkers came just hours after I re-located to Auckland from Australia. A bit of a spring clean meant these pre-loved trackies landed in my living room, ready to be washed and worn by me.
I didn’t really know the gem that I stumbled upon that day until others began to comment on my pale blue, over-sized, low-slung men’s trackpant. They would recall their favourite pair of Barkers. The piece of clothing so iconic that it didn’t need any more of a description than the brand name.
The brand’s creator, Ray Barker, says the trackpants, designed and manufactured in the early 1990s, are in the top five most popular items the store has sold during its 40 years on New Zealand’s retail scene.
“We just had no idea how huge that would become,” Barker said.
Ray Barker was just 25-years-old when he returned from the UK to open the first Barkers store 40 years ago today. Positioned on a popular shopping strip in Auckland, the store was called Raymond’s and sold casual menswear. Now Barkers’ boasts 25 stores across the country.
“Even in school days ideally I wanted to go in to the clothing industry,” Barker said.
“When I came back (from an OE in the UK) I felt there was a huge opening to do something with my own label.”
Barker initially carried a few local brands “just to get myself going,” before branching out in to his own designs and locally produced garb.
“I just loved playing around with designs. I really enjoyed just putting ideas together,” he said.
“I tried for as long as I possibly could to keep manufacturing onshore … but it just got to a stage where it wasn’t viable to continue manufacturing onshore and be competitive price wise.”
A few years ago the store came under new management, but Ray Barker recently came on as an ambassador for the well-known brand – an opportunity he embraced with open arms.
“To see it where it is today … I’m proud obviously, to see that it still bares my name and the fact that it’s still going, and still go strong.
Check out our gallery of Barkers’ fashion over the last 40 years. Share your Barkers story with us.
By Nicky Park
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