Monsoon Menswear

While Miami Vice brought gaily coloured suits and t-shirts to our screens, Monsoon Menswear brought them to Auckland streets.

Ex-pat Savile Row tailor Michael Anderson and his wife Hilary were inspired to translate formal British tailoring into something more relaxed and appropriate to the lifestyle of their new home in New Zealand. In 1976 Frinton opened in Victoria Street, the name and shop fitout inspired by summer at the seaside, albeit a very British one, Frinton-on-Sea.

The shop stocked their own branded suits and shirts and more casual attire, as well as a curated range of vintage pieces sourced from opportunity shops. The fashion-forward men about town were styled and looked after by shop manager, Greg Main, while his younger brother, Brendan Main, a recent graduate of the pattern-making course at Auckland Institute of Technology, joined Michael in the workroom.

Fashion Quarterly magazine editorial featuring a suit by Monsoon Menswear store. Image © Fashion Quarterly.

When the Andersons went to Los Angeles at the end of the 1970s, the relationship was maintained. The Main brothers established Monsoon Menswear in Swanson Street, where they continued to stock Frinton suits.

Brendan spent some time in Los Angeles and when Monsoon moved to Vulcan Lane in 1985, the new store was given a very Californian desert vibe, with adobe-style plastered walls, wooden beams, tiled floors and Mexican woven rugs. Using quality imported fabrics, often cottons and linens, they continued to produce Michael’s suit label, now Clacton and Frinton, alongside their own designs bearing the Monsoon label.

Text by Doris de Pont. Banner image © Paul Hartigan.

Last published August 2017.

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