Alice Made This is pleased to welcome Crane Brothers as one of our newest retailers. Not only have they introduced our cufflinks and lapel pins to the New Zealand market, but the store presents a wonderfully curated menswear collection which we are delighted to be a part of. We caught up with founder Murray Crane to learn more.
“My introduction to fashion was when punk was at its peak,” he begins. These are not the opening words I was expecting from Murray Crane.
“That influence stays with me to this day,” he says. “The jewellery and the hair may have gone but the approach remains. Punk sprang its roots in our popular culture out of poverty and necessity: a need to rebel, shock and look different from everyone.”
I pause and find myself thinking about bands like The Damned and NOFX and then thinking about tailoring. Not a train of thought I’m used to. The link may not seem immediately clear, but perhaps both are about expressing yourself in a stagnant situation. It’s easy for men to pull on a generic 2-piece suit or just another t-shirt and old jeans combination, but maybe it takes someone bolder to stand up and do something different. Maybe that’s punk.
“Menswear was tougher 17 years ago,” Crane says. “Our clients were uneducated and didn’t appreciate what we were trying to achieve.” Crane Brothers opened in 1998 to bring curated menswear to New Zealand. In a country where an “outdoor lifestyle and casual approach to life” are the norm, Crane took a risk.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work to develop the following we have now,” he says proudly. “Given our isolation and relative youth as a nation, New Zealanders are great travellers so comfort is a big consideration for a lot of men. Strangely we are the opposite of this with a lot of what we do at Crane Brothers.”
“I travel a lot and am always researching new brands with a similar philosophy to my own,” Crane explains. “I have been lucky over the last 30 years to have worked with some very good people. I started travelling and buying when I was still in my teens so I have some very well established networks. I always want to have a curated selection of interesting things that make sense in our retail environment and delight and surprise our clients”.
The more we talk, the more evident it becomes that Crane is a firm adventurer. His store is a space for him to express himself, to bring back the treasures from his travels and to encourage others to do the same. I wonder where this no nonsense approach to menswear stemmed from.
“I grew up on a diet of Face, ID, Arena and Esquire and I still feel that a lot of what happens in British fashion influences what we do,” he says. “Our tailoring has traditionally been a lot more ‘British’, as are the mills we work with. The process is as important as the product. Form does follow function.”
“Given we make so much of what we sell, our priorities are always very simple: cutting, construction, cloth and components,” he continues. “Menswear is so unforgiving and it is so difficult to do the simple things well.”
Crane talks about his products and the brands he stocks with warmth and loyalty. He went to seek them out and bring them home. They are his ever-evolving souvenirs.
Whether you’re wearing safety pins or lapel pins, personal style and taste is much more important than trends. Maybe we all need to be a bit more adventurous, a bit more punk, curating the brands and processes we admire for ourselves. As Crane reminds me, “the only way to do that is by breaking rules, that’s what fashion is all about.”
See Alice Made This stocked in Crane Brothers here