NZ fashion firm raises $170k on Kickstarter

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Opus Fresh aims to produce garments for fashion-conscious travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. Photo / Supplied
Opus Fresh aims to produce garments for fashion-conscious travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. Photo / Supplied

A Kiwi clothing brand start-up which set out to raise $20,000 through a crowdfunding campaign has been left stunned after receiving more than eight times that amount.

Ohakune-based Opus Fresh was looking to get off the ground with enough money to fund the initial production run of its locally-sourced merino wool clothing line.

After turning to US crowdfunding website Kickstarter, the company has ended up raising US$139,000 (NZD$172,000) from 638 backers, with two days still to go in the two-month long campaign.

James Simpson, who founded the brand with partner Laura Currie, said people from all over the world had bought into the brand story and the product.

"We've got a good product but I think the story we sold was something a little different to what everyone else has done."

Opus Fresh aims to produce garments for fashion-conscious travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. The brand tagline is 'Adventurewear that doesn't look like adventurewear'.

A photographer wearing an Opus Fresh coat could spend all morning shooting in the outdoors and then head into a city meeting in the afternoon wearing the same coat, Simpson said.

The Kickstarter campaign had initially attracted strong support from Kiwi expats but it had gone wider than that as things progressed, Simpson said.

The massive funding boost meant the business could take its product to the market as a self-funded entity.

"We're now in a pretty strong position not having to give up as much of the company. If we were to try and raise US$140,000 from scratch just off the idea or business plan, most likely we'd have had to give up 51 per cent of the company."

Backers do not get shares in the company, but are given rewards ranging from a thank - you video for people putting forward small amounts to clothing packages for backers pledging US$79 or more.

Most backers were in the 25-40-year old age bracket and 98 per cent had pledged enough money that they were effectively pre-purchasing items of clothing.

Simpson said it had been a "hectic" few weeks getting ready to start manufacturing clothes to send out those people.

Clothing retailers had already started getting in touch but Opus would not be looking to start selling in stores until later this year.

"We've heard from a lot of people who want to stock it but our sole focus at the moment is delivering to backers."

Most of the clothing line - which includes base layer tops, coats and jerseys - will be manufactured in Silverdale, north of Auckland.

Crowdfunding websites raised US$2.7 billion worldwide last year, an 81 per cent increase on 2011, according to a study conducted by research firm Massolution.

The most well-known New Zealand example of crowdfunding took place when film director Taika Waititi raised US$110,000 to help pay for the US distribution of his 2010 film, Boy.

- NZ Herald

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