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Smith & Caughey's

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253-261 Queen Street

When Smith and Caughey’s set up shop on Queen Street, it was virtually business by the yard - but much adaptation has been necessary over the years to maintain its relevance in a vastly-changed clothing world.

Smith’s Cheap Drapery Warehouse was established in 1880 by Marianne Smith. As her enterprise prospered she was joined by her husband William Smith, and her brother Andrew Caughey and, in 1882, the business became Smith and Caughey, Drapers and Clothiers. The demand for fabric grew out of necessity - colonists of all classes had to be clothed, and no ready-made garments were available. From cottons to silks to woollens, sourced from the leading textile houses in Europe, Smith & Caughey’s catered to every wardrobe need.

They provided a tailoring service. Using fabrics selected from the store, women’s and men’s garments were made-to-measure in its workrooms. When hats were an essential item, they were made by the store’s own milliners. According to the Auckland Star newspaper in 1898: “Even a woman of modest means would buy up to four hats a season; wealthy women ten or more”. All the trimmings - feathers, jewelled hat-pins, artificial flowers and veiling - could also be bought from the store.

Continued family ownership and a willingness to change with the times has meant that of all the early Auckland department stores, Smith & Caughey’s is the sole survivor. Inside, if you look up, you will see that the store is actually four buildings connected under one roof, with the original modest drapery still at its heart.

Read more at http://nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/smith-caugheys/

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