South Island clothing company, Glowing Sky, is raising the stakes with its exclusive designer merino wool garments. Owner Dil Belworthy talks about the exciting journey, from creating t-shirts in Stewart Island, to today’s diverse range of innovative merino clothing.
Did you ever envision the company would become so large?
When I was still a cray fisherman wearing a bush shirt and gumboots printing t-shirts on our kitchen table on Stewart Island I could not see a horizon. Understandably, everyone told me I was mad. My wife Cath and I often pinch ourselves as to how far we’ve actually come.
How many stores are there and what other outlets are there for Glowing Sky garments?
We currently have six Glowing Sky stores around New Zealand and a new one opening in Akaroa. Online sales are growing massively and the website, with its global reach, is by far our biggest store.
What have been the most significant milestones for the company in the past 24 months?
The rapid growth of online sales combined with bricks and mortar has given us the confidence to implement a significant growth strategy. It is both exciting and scary, but we expect the business will be in a completely different space in 12 months’ time.
Do you follow fashion trends or create your own?
Our original motto “doing our own thing” still stands and we take little notice of general trends creating garments for our own reasons and taste and in response to customer feedback.
Sustainable clothing is in the spotlight globally. What are the benefits of wearing merino?
It’s hard to improve on the amazing qualities of merino wool as a sustainable natural product. Superfine merino is almost miraculous in its ability to react to temperature, keeping you warm or cool and breathing away moisture from the body. It can be worn for a long time without taking on odour and requires less washing than other clothing, significantly reducing water and energy use.
Where do you source and produce the Glowing Sky range?
Fabrics are made to our specifications by Designer Textiles International using wool supplied by New Zealand Merino under the ZQ brand. This guarantees the highest level of quality, sustainability and ethical standards. We make all the garments at our Timaru facility, ensuring total quality control of manufacture.
Glowing Sky is a New Zealand success story – how do international visitors respond to the range?
Visitors are endlessly fascinated by our origins on a small island at the bottom of the world. They love the product’s uniqueness, using local merino resource with a direct link from farm to customer. As globalisation develops and huge corporate brands dominate, overseas customers deeply appreciate that we are a family-based company with a “real” story –we are getting used to being “discovered” a hundred times a day!
What is new in the range this summer?
Ponchos, wraps and multiple-use garments made from merino are our big seller at the moment with many variations on those themes. The colour saffron is hot right now and very popular instore.
What will you personally be wearing over the summer holidays that bears the Glowing Sky label?
I’m road testing some new fabrics that have a nylon core filament with superfine merino wrapped around it allowing the garments to be very light and strong while retaining all the qualities of 100% merino. Watch this space.