Founder, owner and international adventurer Davey Hughes can look back with pride as he prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Swazi. His cult Kiwi clothing brand has grown from a novel idea to a technical clothing manufacturer with global appeal.
Founded on 10 October 1994, Swazi will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a big party for its 60 plus employees. The occasion will allow Hughes to reflect on a journey that has taken his company much further than he ever thought was possible.
“I certainly didn’t envisage becoming a global brand,” says the 60-year old. “I didn’t envisage back then it would become today. It is more than just a brand, more than just a clothing company. People believe in what we do and what we stand for. That, for me, is the biggest buzz.”
He is proud that his company is actively involved in conservation and educating young people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, to hunt ethically and respect game.
The idea for Swazi came to Hughes when he was trapping possums on the west coast mountains of New Zealand’s South Island and developed when he was cutting down trees in the Scottish Highlands for a living.
“I realised I was an expert at getting cold and wet, and thought that perhaps I could use that knowledge to help people stay warm and dry,” he says. “To this day, while the manufacturing approach at Swazi has changed, the field testing process hasn’t, I still test each garment personally.”
The first two Swazi products were a polar fleece jacket and polar fleece bush pants which Hughes took to Australia to launch at a show. “We made 60 jackets and 60 pants, and within an hour of opening to the public, we sold everything,” he recalls. The rest, as they say, is history.
After years of consistent growth, Swazi is now struggling to keep up with demand. It’s a nice problem to have approaching a landmark anniversary and one that underlines the extent of the brand’s success.
“The secret to Swazi’s success is people,” says Hughes. “I surround myself with the best people I can and unleash them. I look forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary with them. It’ll be a great party.”
For more information, visit www.swazi.co.nz.