THE HIGH numbers of cruise ships docking at Napier was the deciding factor for Icebreaker's decision to open an outlet in Napier.

Jeremy Moon, founder of the outdoor clothing label with 4700 stockists worldwide, said Napier had done a "fantastic" job as a cruise destination.

"When you go to the town and a taxi driver is telling you statistics about the number of tourists and boats through and how it affects him personally, I think that's amazing," he said.

In Napier last week for the store's official opening, he said there was a good customer base in Hawke's Bay - nodding towards a former outlet on Emerson St with a for-lease sign.

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"We have all these customers that we have been building up, loyal customers for years, that is why we put a store here."

It features New Zealand imagery.

"Icebreaker is actually born from triangulating what New Zealand is famous for: nature, adventure and sheep."

He is unapologetic for not manufacturing in New Zealand.

"We are the best in the world at growing merino in the apparel industry but the New Zealand textile industry has lacked investment in the last couple of decades.

"We were growing bigger than the local manufacturers could keep up with and there are a bunch of technologies we just don't have in New Zealand, which we needed.

"I went to Europe, South America and all through Asia and found this cluster of companies: a French company that cleans the wool, a German yarn plant and a Japanese/Chinese textile miller. That is what our manufacturing hub is based around.

"I think it is a great model. You have intellectual property based in New Zealand and you find the best technology using New Zealand raw materials."

With him was CEO Rob Fyfe, formerly Air New Zealand's CEO. He said while people often talked about adding value to raw materials "you have to figure out what the value actually is", Mr Fyfe said.

While there were highly specialised jobs in the creation of Icebreaker clothing "there are plenty of low value ones".

"It is not necessarily the base to build a high-wage economy."

The brand's New Zealand identity was of "enormous value", but competitors were cashing in.

"People are attracted to New Zealand because they perceive it to be clean and green, unspoiled, outdoors and uncrowded."

"All of that imagery adds value to Icebreaker and our proposition is allowing people to discover and experience nature and have adventures. That is synonymous with what they think of New Zealand so we get that leverage.

"As I walked around a trade show this year it struck me as quite bizarre the number of European outdoor brands that are using New Zealand photography.

"You would see some Finnish brand with the New Zealand Southern Alps in the picture and some guy climbing a mountain with their gear. It just shows you the power of New Zealand.

"Jeremy created this whole high-performance merino outdoor category and now a whole lot of people are trying to piggyback off that, hoping to get a piece of that action."

It has pitted Icebreaker against major brands such as The North Face, Patagonia and adidas.

Staying in front means constant innovation, Mr Moon said as he displayed clothing with composite fabric. Fabric "beyond anyone's wildest dreams".

While the clothes were expensive he said they were good value, combining function with style.

"You can add value through versatility, so people are wearing them more often."

The next Icebreaker stores opening will be in Ponsonby, Melbourne and Calgary.