Gaining a step up in the design stakes

By Zoe Walker

Briarwood owner Ange Marshall takes us through her aesthetic.

Founder of Briarwood, Ange Marshall. Photo / Babiche Martens
Founder of Briarwood, Ange Marshall. Photo / Babiche Martens

Ange Marshall is the talent behind footwear and accessories label Briarwood. She opened its first store in Newmarket in 1992 and is celebrating 20 years of business this year.

Marshall launched the label after returning to New Zealand from London, finishing leather bags in the tiny backroom of that original store. She now oversees five physical stores, but still has her original hand-written business plan. She talks us through some of her favourite things.


1. Weaving and embroidery detail
I love the simplistic design of our Briarwood "Zip Around" wallet. It's incredibly functional, holds everything I need, is secure and can be carried around my wrist when I have my hands full. I love the weave and the leather finish, it just gets better with time. I also love the heavy embroidered stitching on these "Talulah" wedges - they remind me of my hippie days but thankfully they are more stylish than the shoes I used to wear back then.

2. Sewing machine
This was given to me by my mother in 1980 for my 14th birthday. My loyal friend, a Bernina Nova, it has made thousands of garments - all memorable but some for the wrong reason! Whoever said mauve paisley would last forever?

3. Martha's Fabrics
I love getting lost in the racks and racks of exquisite fabric at Martha's. Whoever says haberdashery and fabric is for your grandmother hasn't been here. With a great coffee from Little & Friday in one hand and bolts of fabric laid out chaotically all around me, it doesn't get much better.

4. Bose noise cancelling head phones
Plane travel got its mojo back for me when I discovered these a year ago. Long-haul flights became short-haul - with the flick of a switch I tuned out of the world and tuned on my own surround sound. Bliss.

5. Buccellati lace ring
Buccellati was introduced to me just in time for my 40th birthday. A gift from my husband. We had first seen it in Elba a year before and he had seen, and heard, incessantly, how I had fallen for this little known 500-year-old Italian jewellery family. It's like a piece of lace around my finger.

6. Painted mannequin
Art turns a house into a home. Most of it hangs on a wall but this A Woods' piece ticks more than just two dimensions. It's a medium that crosses over into my everyday life with its nods to fashion.

7. The Sartorialist App
Don't ask any questions: if fashion is your thing, just get this app now. It's a window into fashion lifestyles away from the catwalk.

8. Benny Brush
What do you mean you don't know what a Benny Brush is? How could a house not have one of these? Ever-ready and waiting to give a quick brush up or a really high shine to any shoe as you walk, or run, past him out the door. Makes an old shoe a new shoe in 10 seconds flat.

9. Antique cutting bench
My faithful servant. Many hours have been spent over the years cutting patterns, sketching and hoping that the shapes would turn out as spectacularly as they appear in my head. It's absolutely functional and at the same time has a style that means I never have to hide it away out of sight.

10. Re-Ab Pilates
Tucked away in a former movie theatre in Grey Lynn, Re Ab is where I tune out to tune in. Whether it's pilates or spin-lates - it's unpretentious and always relaxed. I always walk out two inches above the ground. My happy place.

- NZ Herald

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