A Wellington fashion boutique is run off its feet after coming up with a modern Kiwiana classic: the Ashley Bloomfield hand towel.
St Fabiola, a fashion boutique and gallery in the capital, is offering Kiwis the opportunity to "let the soothing image of our man of the moment, Ashley Bloomfield, guide you through safe hand washing and drying practice".
The boutique's owner, Kirsten Sutherland, had the idea for the towels on Monday night and after showing them to family, realised she had a struck a nerve when her family wanted to share the idea with their friends.
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The product was only launched yesterday afternoon, but Sutherland said the response was immediate.
Sutherland, who also does commercial embroidery for film, said she had the equipment at home to make the towels and would now spend her time producing them. And the rush of orders came at a crucial time for the business, which has been affected by the restrictions on shipping non-essential items, she said.
"I woke up this morning, had zero in the bank yesterday and there were $1000 worth of orders overnight."
Sutherland said she was an early fan of Bloomfield, whose reassuring performance in the daily media briefings has won him legions of supporters.
"I don't have a girl crush on him but I love how he makes us feel looked after," Sutherland told the Herald, though she did admit that Bloomfield has "nerd appeal".
"I hope he's not too creeped out about it," Sutherland added, saying that Bloomfield "deserves every bit of attention he gets".
The boutique won't be able to ship the items while restrictions remain in place but they would be able to deliver when restrictions were eased.
Sutherland said she hoped Kiwis would shop locally when business opens up, saying local producers would also be busy filling gaps caused by disruption to overseas production and trade.
The towelling tribute is the latest in a series of public shows of support for Bloomfield, who has been branded a "competent, calm, factual and reassuring man".
A Change.org petition has been launched to award Bloomfield the New Zealander of the Year award, with the petition stating they were nominating Bloomfield for his role and presence in the country's time of need and also to thank him.
"He should be proud of his work. I know our entire country certainly is."
During a recent Covid-19 press conference, Bloomfield was asked about the petition but he remained coy.
"Leadership is an invitation to collective action," he said. "This is a joint effort," he said, before thanking all health workers across the country.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged Bloomfield's humility.
"He gets very humble when you play the song about him too," she said, referring to a YouTube video made by musician-composer Maxwell Apse which includes the lyric "the way he speaks makes me feel like it's gonna be okay".