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5 and 16 High Street

In the 1980s, New Zealand’s location in the Pacific was beginning to colour our self-awareness and aesthetic, with designers engaging with home-grown motifs and concerns.

The foundations of Street Life and partner-label Workshop were birthed in this context, and their early designs, logos and shop interiors borrowed regional imagery and the expertise of local visual artists.

Chris Cherry came to Auckland from Melbourne as a young man in the 1970s and met June Robinson, who was a cutter and pattern-maker. They opened Street Life at 17 Swanson Street with business partner and pattern-maker Christine Moon.

In 1982, Street Life moved to 5 High Street, and they added their Workshop label to the design stable. Initially targeted at women, Chris had noticed that an increasing number of young men were drawn to their jumpsuits, army pants and shirts. In response, Workshop produced clothes that refrained from being overtly gendered, repositioning the brand as a street or urban-wear label, a relatively novel concept in New Zealand in the 1980s.

As Workshop grew in scale and reputation, the profile of the Street Life label diminished. Christine and June had departed and designer Helen Cherry recognised that their clients were becoming more sophisticated. In 1997 they rebranded as Helen Cherry and launched a flagship store at 16 High Street on the corner of Vulcan Lane. Twenty years later, it has just closed its doors, ending 35 years in the High Street District. Stores in Ponsonby and Newmarket ensure the continuation of their brands.

Read more at http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/street-life/

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