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200 Queen Street

Raymond Barker is the man, and the name, behind the iconic men’s clothing label that began in Auckland in 1972.

His first store, Raymond’s, on the corner of Victoria and High Stret didn’t stock the usual manufactured brands but rather sold clothing under his own brand. His designs sold well and by 1980 he had moved to 200 Queen Street, operating under the name Barkers for the first time. The store had custom theatre lights, chrome rails and a huge sound system that faced out towards the street.

Ray and his staff travelled to look at international trends and in the early 1990s, store manager Lester Van Der Veer returned home with the idea for what was to become a clothing phenomenon throughout New Zealand. “He came back with the idea for a hooded sweat and a matching trackpant,” says Ray. “That’s how it started.” The trackpant craze exploded with 50,000 pairs of Barkers branded trackpants sold over the next few years. They were all manufactured by Streetwise in West Auckland.

Although Ray sold the company in 2002 and manufacturing has largely moved offshore the company continues to deliver classic menswear with a twist, collaborating with iconic New Zealand brands Swanndri, Flying Nun, McKinlay’s and Surfline. A new flagship store on High Street neatly brings Barkers back full circle, to where it began all those years ago.

Read more at www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/barkers

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