How one of the world’s oldest activewear brands continues to evolve


To talk through the evolution of Canterbury of New Zealand, let me first take you back to the brand’s beginning. Established in 1904 by John Lane, Pringle Walker and Alfred Rudkin, these three English immigrants turned proud Kiwis, began producing woollen clothing in the Canterbury province of New Zealand. The trio had such a love for the region they called home that they named their clothing company after it. Over time, the brand became known for making hard-working, resilient garments. So mu

ch so, that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps requested that the company make their uniforms to endure the conditions of the First World War. 

To this day, we pride ourselves on our quality product credentials. As a multi-faceted clothing company, we constantly push boundaries into different clothing and lifestyle categories, continuing to bring our passion and values to our extensive product offering. We share our pride in the durability, comfort, and versatility of our clothing, while celebrating real people, who do their thing while wearing the CCC logo. 

Our ability to evolve throughout our 118-year history comes down to our people first mentality. As a brand, we have always been driven by our people and our community, adapting to their needs and wants, while consistently providing top-quality clothing that is hardworking, and hard-wearing. Clothing that fits the lifestyle requirements of our customers; from the city, to the pitch, to the outback. 

Whilst more recently the Australia and New Zealand consumer market would be familiar with the brand’s presence and association with footy, following years of footy kit supply with some of the biggest teams across Australia and New Zealand, the breath of its historical association within the multisport category could easily be forgotten. 

Historically we have had an extensive association through the likes of basketball, cricket, and sailing – where the brand has had a significant presence, dating back to the early 1980s. 

During the 36th America’s Cup in 2021, a momentous sporting occasion that was held in Auckland, New Zealand and celebrated across Australia, New Zealand and globally, Canterbury of New Zealand brought back two of our more recognised and familiar sailing aesthetics. While leaning into what was a historic period for the brand and the sailing world, this time we took a more elevated and modern approach to the styling, garment selection and a lifestyle presentation of how it was to be worn. Of course, with a hat tip to Canterbury of New Zealand’s outfitting of NZ Sailing Icons; Sir Peter Blake (RIP) and the KZ-2 team of Steinlager 2 who won all six legs of the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. Followed up by Grant Dalton’s Endeavour team, who went back-to-back in the 1993-94 race. 

From that point, we knew our consumers were receptive to this elevated celebration of multisport heritage and archive pieces. Presented in the right way, with the appropriate distribution and aligned with influential profiles, we were able to cut through and create impact with this market. Taking learnings from this and to close out 2021, we introduced a new take on our iconic Uglies design – with a premium cut and sew five-piece collection called ‘’Played in Heaven.” And recently, with our latest elevated range, The Compass Collection, presented in a way that has currency, not only with those familiar to the nostalgic appeal of our story, but also with a younger audience, who may not be aware of Canterbury of New Zealand’s previous level of product and brand execution.  

Looking at what’s to come for 2022, we are releasing a second limited collection, the Terrain Collection, inspired by the brand’s versatility and connection to the outdoors. We’ve taken a mix of archive styles and added refined detailing with unique fabrication choices, utilitarian functioning and heritage inspired graphics to bring the capsule to life. 

And as we move into 2023, our product and marketing team are focused on developing even more brand focused activity and products that will work as hard as our consumers do, fitting their needs, as well as celebrating the lead into the brand’s 120 year anniversary in 2024.We believe that by being relevant to our audience and continuing to adapt by working with exciting, new talent and partners, we can create real and emotive connections between the brand and our customers, through authentic storytelling. 

The most recent example being our new brand collaboration with long-time friend of the brand and renowned Kiwi visual artist, Tom Gould, who brought to life ‘The World’s Toughest Activewear’ campaign. Tom, who has previously exhibited in MoMA and worked with NBA stars and global recording artists, captured a suite of striking portraits and films that capture the resilience of a community, highlighting the beauty in stillness and the repetitive nature of everyday life. Find out more about it here: The World’s Toughest Activewear – Canterbury of New Zealand (canterburyautwta.com)

As a brand we will always seek to learn; be better, do better and adapt. But while we constantly evolve, the integrity of our clothing and our place within our community will never change.



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