Knight of New
Zealand Ltd Invercargill
Knight of New Zealand Ltd. was originally founded in
1972 under the name Knight Tailors Ltd. As this namesuggests, the company started in the bespoke tailoring
(made to measure suit) business, but soon moved into the fledgling leather and suede garment
industry. Knights pioneered the sheepskin garment industry in New Zealandand very soon export markets were
developed in Australia (1973) followed by U.S.A. (1976). Shortly after, the company was purchased
by Multi National, Fletcher Challenge Corporation.
In 1985 the senior management and marketing executives
of Knights purchased the company in a management buy out from Fletcher Challenge. It was at this
time that the company moved to its current premises at 21 Leven Street.
In 1990 the company name was changed to Knight of New
Zealand Ltd., to reflect the International nature of the business and the fact that the company no
longer did any tailoring. However, the tailoring background has enhanced Knight's ability
to "customise" garments for their clients.
In Invercargill, the company
is still quite oftenreferred to by locals as “Knight Tailors”.
The Company is headed by Managing Director, John Rhodes.
John Rhodes Managing
still owned by the original management and marketing shareholder group, with the addition of Phil
Mollison (Australian marketing office) and Peter Coggs of Munich, Germany who is the exclusive
marketing agent for Knights in Europe.
In more recent years, the Company has specialized in
producing Babylamb Shearling garments using these unique indigenous New Zealand raw
All North American sales are marketed through Knight's marketing office in The World Trade Center in Dallas, Texas.
(Refer "Contact Us" page)
Award-winning export garments
Knight of New Zealand has won a number of Fashion and Export awards:
In 1977 the New Zealand Government awarded the Company its first Export Award and, in the same
year, Knights won the Benson & Hedges Fashion Award for Ladies & Men's Sports outer
For the next five years in succession, Knights won High Priority Exporter awards from the New
Zealand Government. This was crowned in 1985 with the Governor Generals Award for exporting. This
prestigious award is presented annually to only one company in the whole country, and Knights beat
off much larger companies in attaining this. The Governor General of the time Sir Paul
Reeves, together with Lady Reeves, visited the Invercargill factory to celebrate this occasion.
Knight achieves International standard of quality
In 1994 the company achieved the Internationally recognised quality standard
ISO9001, followed 12 months later by ISO9002 for excellence also in design.
These ratings mean that Knight of New Zealand has achieved the highest possible rating in terms of
quality of product, systems and customer satisfaction. The ISO9002 standard adds to this
achievement excellence in design standards.
Babylamb Shearling coats for Australian Olympic Team
In 2002 Knight of New Zealand made headlines by winning the contract to make the
Australian Olympic team's opening ceremony coats for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City,
USA. The 3/4 length coats made from a specially dyed *Terraccota coloured Babylamb Shearling were
all individually custom made for each of the 86 athletes and officials taking part. The garments
also had a specially embossed leather label with the Official Australian Olympic team Logo, also
supplied by Knights.
The story broke in Australia and New Zealand at the official uniform preview in Melbourne, that a
New Zealand company had supplied an important part of the Australian National Team uniform. The
story caused controversy in both countries and made National Network news, as many Australian
companies objected to an "overseas" company winning the contract! In defence of their decision,
the Australian Olympic Organizing Committee commented that Knight's were the only company in the
region who could make the garments to the high quality standard and tight time frame required and
deliver a consistent natural product.
* Skins were dyed this colour to reflect the "Red soils" of Australia.
Knight's garments a celebrity choice!
Many well known people have purchased Knight's garments, from Hollywood stars
like Cher to British Royal Prince Edward.
On a visit to Australia Cher called into Knight's Melbourne marketing office and purchased several
Knight's products, including a custom made garment for her son which was shipped from New Zealand
direct to Vail, Colorado in time for a skiing holiday.
Prince Edward undertook part of his training as a Student Teacher in Wanganui, New Zealand. During
his stay, he ordered a Knight Shearling jacket through a local retailer. Other celebrities to
purchase a Knight garment include Jose Feliciano.
Knight's garment "Ambassador" for New Zealand exports
A Knight garment took part in a diplomatic exchange between New Zealand and
Canada. Following a visit to the factory from then Prime Minister of New Zealand the Right
Honourable David Lange in 1989, the New Zealand Government commissioned Knights to make a Shearling
garment for the Prime Minister of Canada Mr. Brian Mulroney, as a gift from the people of New