Company History & Achievements


Knight of New Zealand Ltd Premises Invercargill Southland New ZealandI
Knight of New Zealand Ltd Invercargill  

Knight of New Zealand Ltd. was originally founded in 1972 under the name Knight Tailors Ltd.  As this name suggests, 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 Zealand and 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 often referred to by locals as “Knight Tailors”. 

The Company is headed by Managing Director, John Rhodes. 

 John Rhodes Managing Director Knight of New Zealand Ltd
John Rhodes Managing Director 

Knight's is 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 materials.

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 wear.
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 Zealand.