Ambler & Co

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54-56 Wellesley Street West

An unwanted roll of broad-striped pyjama cloth led to business success for an Auckland manufacturer when he made it into bold shirts for men in the rather conservative society of 1920s Auckland.

Fred Ambler was born in Yorkshire in 1894, emigrating to Christchurch with his family in about 1907. By 1919 he had established his own business, Ambler & Co, in a rented workroom on the 3rd floor at 153 Albert Street in Auckland. He employed six machinists to manufacture men’s shirts and pyjamas and ladies blouses.

The business grew quickly and in 1926 Fred built his own factory at 54-56 Wellesley Street West. He was deeply involved in an early ‘buy New Zealand made’ campaign highlighting the superiority of locally made goods over British imports.

Import restrictions introduced by the Government after the Great Depression of the 1930s, allowed the company to flourish and they built new factories in suburban Auckland. In the 1960s they built a huge warehouse and cutting room in Grey Lynn and at its peak Ambler & Co employed over 400 people spread over their four Auckland sites.

The removal of import controls in the 1980s, however, caused the company to scale down local production. But they continued to sell mens and womenswear under a range of labels including Summit, Aertex, Klipper and Pierre Cardin.

On 1 September 2017 Ambler & Co Ltd was sold to Cambridge Clothing Ltd. The fourth generation of the Ambler family, David’s son Christopher, remains with the new business.

Read more at http://nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/ambler-co/

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