After over 20 years in the business, Huffer could now correctly be termed one of Aotearoa’s most iconic brands.
Since hitting the stores in 1997 as an underground snowboard label, Huffer has grown exponentially, in particular over the past three years when the sky has been quite simply, the limit. Their mission has long been to exist in that sweet spot where fashion and functionality meet, delivering seasonal collections through to technical outerwear and print stories that graphically represent the brand. It’s a formula that works, and has seen their clothing worn - and loved - by people all over the world, whether they are grabbing coffee or hitting the slopes.
When I talk to Huffer co-founder and general walking billboard for the brand, Steve Dunstan, he is beyond fizzing to be bringing Huffer to his adopted home, after first moving to Ponsonby in his late teens. Now a long-time resident of nearby Grey Lynn, he says that he has had his eye on the fire station for some time now, and he can’t wait to officially move in. Huffer will be one of three retail stores in the space, but Steve is claiming the entire top floor for the brand’s new headquarters.
He says that aesthetically, the new store - Huffer’s ninth flagship - will pay homage in part to the building’s previous tenants, the New Zealand Fire Service, and have the stripped back, warm feel common to many of their other retail destinations. There will be imagery from the Huffer Locals campaign, and also a solid coffee machine in place to roll out their infamous Free Coffee Friday events there each week. “We want to contribute to and engage with the local community from the moment we open the doors,” explains Steve, “and that will be through everything from casual events to little things like having a bike rack outside for people to stop by and hang out for a while.”
Huffer has two stores in Sydney, Australia’s Bondi and Newtown, with another set to open soon in the fashion-centric city of Melbourne. Steve says that he hopes to foster the same kind of vibe in the new Ponsonby store as has been established in Bondi, which has attracted its own little community of fans and friends. “The Bondi area has the same kind of feel as Ponsonby,” he says, “and it was great to open our first Australian store there, as opposed to in a mall. We do events and parties there, and Free Coffee Friday, and I see the new store here functioning in a really similar way.” He confesses that he may spend more time hanging out in the store than upstairs at his desk, and I don’t doubt it!
After living and working in the likes of Queenstown, the US and of late, part-time in Bondi, it’s safe to say that Steve is really looking forward to the company’s move to Ponsonby, and the kind of community vibe that comes with. This time he won’t be working in the cut-rice Indonesian furniture store near the corner of Picton Street that he lived above in his early 20s, but gazing out the window onto
a very different Ponsonby Road from his desk at the new Huffer HQ.
“Although I was born in Christchurch, Ponsonby is my home,” he says, “and walking to work is a bonus. I can’t wait.” (HELENE RAVLICH)