Two powerhouse New Zealand designers now have their own areas in store

Karen Walker concept area at Thomas's Lonely concept area at Thomas'sWe’re delighted to have launched new concept areas recently in store with two powerhouse Kiwi brands – Karen Walker and Lonely.

Karen Walker – one of New Zealand’s biggest fashion exports – made the news over the weekend with her decision not to show at New York Fashion Week this season. She’s been a regular on the New York fashion circuit for a decade but has just announced that with the changes in social media marketing New York no longer works for her. You can read more about it here. Brave call for a brave designer and it is testament to her status and influence that this decision isn’t likely to hurt her sales.

The Karen Walker aesthetic captures a sense of eccentric elegance and her clothes and accessories are beloved around the world, including by personalities such as Alexa Chung, Lorde, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid and Florence Welch. Come in and experience the Karen Walker phenomenon with a new spring range that is all about colour and distinctive patterns.

Karen Walker concept store at Thomas's“Fostering a sense of positive body image and freedom of expression, Lonely eschews conventional marketing, bringing its collections to life via the Lonely Girls Project, a journal featuring women around the world from all walks of life captured wearing Lonely in their way.”

These are the words of Helene Morris, Lonely designer, who along with Steve Ferguson makes up the Auckland-based Lonely duo. The Lonely Girls Project focuses on real women – of many sizes and shapes – being photographed in their underwear. And it is due to this refreshing approach to marketing, as well as the beautiful designs, that Lonely is fast gaining cult status across the globe.

These guys are big on Instagram. Follow along to find out more about the Lonely Girls Project.

Lonely - new range at Thomas'sLonely celebrates women’s strength and individuality with beautiful, and comfortable, lingerie, swimwear and clothing. This latest spring summer 2016 range was inspired by the movie Ghost World, starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson.

Lonely is appealing to a broad range of women here in Marlborough – all ages are snapping up the lingerie and enjoying the flexibility of the clothing which can be dressed up or down. We’ve had great feedback and there’s more lingerie and lounge wear arriving at the end of the month and then again in November, when the swimwear will make its appearance.

Come in store and see what all the fuss is about. Our wonderful staff in womenswear would love to help you discover the Karen Walker and Lonely collections for yourself.

Image credit: In-store photographs by Peter Burge

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Spring into new fashion – what to look out for this season

Trends for Spring 2016 at Thomas's

At Thomas’s we like to stay at the forefront of fashion so we can offer you a broad selection of the best designs available, right here in Marlborough. As well as keeping our eye firmly fixed on design trends, we are also committed to supporting beautifully, ethically and sustainably made clothing, created from enduring and high quality fabrics. We want to sell you great clothes that last – so you can feel good while you look good!

Hamish is our fashion buyer and he and Tim frequent the fashion show front rows to keep up to date. We put some questions to Hamish about what to look out for in spring trends this year.

Spring 2016 Trends – Q&A with Hamish:

Q.  What are the main trends we should be looking out for in spring 2016 fashion?

A.  Off the shoulder styles are going to be strong, especial in preppy blue and white fabrics. Anything Victorian – ruffles, puffy sleeves, high-collar necklines and loads of flowers. Also look for lightweight denims and bomber jackets.

Q.  What’s else is happening in denim – are flares still the thing? Anything new?

A.  All our international brands are showing high-waisted straight leg jeans in light coloured denim, think 1990s, look for holes and raw edge hems. There has been a move on from flares, look for cropped bootlegs such as these from Neuw below. There is still dark and black denim as well as the boyfriend fit.

Neuw flared pant from Thomas's

Q.  What’s up in colours for this coming season?

A. Orange is strong, as is khaki, and look for white, prints, dusty pinks and light-coloured denim.

Spring 2016 Trends with Thomas's of Marlborough

Q. Is there a great difference between new ideas in men’s and womenswear?

A.  Fashion is always lead by women’s trends and men’s styling is taken from there, like colour, fabric and styling.

Q. What would be your favourite NZ label in store this spring – for men and women? What great things are Kiwi designers doing?

A. That would have to be Kowtow for women and Huffer for the guys – you can see both in the photos below. Both labels fit our Kiwi lifestyle, Kowtow uses organic cotton which has an amazing feel, and is so comfortable to wear.  We stock Kate Sylvester, Zambesi, Nyne, Workshop and have just opened our Karen Walker and Lonely concept area which is very exciting. We are so proud to stock so many outstanding NZ labels. It is very important to know your customer and keep true to that, it keeps people coming back season after season and that is what makes NZ labels so popular.

Kiwi cool from Kowtow - Sunday Jumpsuit 2Huffer for men from Thomas's

Q.  Which is your favourite international label in store?

A.  Ted Baker, both men’s and women’s. Their attention to detail is incredible, they use the best fabrics and cuts.

Q.  What labels do you recommend for those who want to be at the forefront of new trends?

A.  Karen Walker (see below left), Zambesi or international labels Ksubi or Diesel.

Q.  How about for those of us who are a little bit slower to get on board or who prefer a more classic look?

A.  Caroline Sills, or Obi, both have beautiful knitwear, dresses and pants and of course both are from NZ.

Q.  There’s a real feel of comfort in the new Camilla and Marc spring range, as witnessed in the image above. Is the comfort factor spread across other labels too?

A.  Comfort is the key to all labels – you will see brands do beautiful dresses for evening wear and casual clothing for the weekends.

Q.  And what’s your take on the must-have accessory for the coming months?

A.  Hoop earrings, mules for shoes and a Yu Mei bag.

You heard it here from Hamish first. Check out the new spring range online or come in store to see it for yourself. We have fantastic friendly staff who’re highly skilled at helping choose the perfect clothes for you.

We’ll leave the last word on the topic to the inimitable Vivienne Westwood, who once said “Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

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Marlborough Book Festival – time to cosy up with a good book

Thomas's supporting the Marlborough Book Festival

Who’s heading along to the Marlborough Book Festival this weekend? Aren’t we lucky to have such an incredible line-up of top New Zealand authors descending on the region – with Bill Manhire, Kate de Goldi, Charlotte Grimshaw, Witi Ihimaera and Rachael King just a few of them.

The book festival is a fantastic event for Marlborough and an important cultural festival which we’ve been very pleased to help promote since its inception in 2014. Keep an eye out for our new window display put together in conjunction with the book festival trust. If that doesn’t make you want to dip into a great book we don’t know what will!

We take great pride in our window displays here at Thomas’s and have a team of talented people who work on them. This book-lover’s dress (as seen in the photo above) was conceived by Ingrid and Hanna. The concept was based on a previous Christmas window we did, with the book pages replacing Christmas decorations. Hamish and Cathy laboured over this little dress one evening and the night-time effect was captured beautifully by Peter Burge’s photograph. The lovely old books used as props come from our extensive archives – it’s amazing what you accumulate after 103 years!

On that note, there’s a beautiful book in store that would make a good present for someone who loves cooking, Gjelina – Cooking from Venice, California – is filled with sumptuous recipes and images from the celebrated Los Angeles restaurant. And if you need cosy accessories for winter reading we have beautiful Le Forge lamps, Citta candles – how about Gingerbread Soy? – and a selection of gorgeous throws. For more on the featured products in this window, check out our website or come and see us in-store.

It’s great to see a few other shop windows around town getting behind this wonderful event. Watch out for our coming window displays with new stock arriving – in all departments – in August. We’ll be sharing some spring/summer trends with you in our next blog too.

Shop at Thomas's Marlborough for great reading and accessories

Thomas & Sons – meet master cook Marcia Chang-Hong and try the new winter dine-in menu

Thomas and Sons Cafe 103 years in the making, Blenheim

Marcia Chang-Hong at Thomas and Sons. Photo credit: Peter Burge Photography

Thomas & Sons – 103 years in the making…

The café concept was actually something Hamish and Tim Thomas looked at seven or eight years ago but decided the timing wasn’t quite right, so they opened Scotch instead in 2008, owning it for six years. They learnt a lot over this time, “as hospitality is quite different to retail”, and those skills helped with Thomas & Sons, particularly in the setup and they were able to use this experience to get the formula right for the café.

The cafe at Thomas’s opened on 20 November 2015 with coffee and treats from the counter but the kitchen has now come in-house, as has the dining, and a full winter menu is in operation.

Marcia Chang-Hong, cook extraordinaire, has been instrumental from the beginning. Marcia much prefers the title cook to chef as she believes cooking is a “natural, fundamental thing.” Confident in the quality of her food, Marcia is however very humble and doesn’t like any of the fuss associated with being a chef. “I just want to make fresh, simple, rustic food”. Hamish and Tim knew of Marcia as they’d been guests at her legendary dinners and were thrilled when she agreed to come on board for their new venture.

Marcia has a fascinating history. Born in Trinidad to Chinese parents who had emigrated there in the early 1950s, Marcia then went to high school and university in Toronto, Canada and it was there she fell into cooking. Restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver were followed by an eight-year stint in London where she cooked at top restaurants Kensington Place and the Brackenbury before her then husband Peter Burge suggested a move back to his hometown of Blenheim.

Marcia admits she wasn’t ready for the change of pace then, she loved her work and the busy life in London and coming to Blenheim in 2003 was quite hard, but she loves it here now.  “Marlborough allows for a beautiful way of living, no traffic, open space, great people, lots of good produce – and where else in the world could I get to milk a cow for fresh milk and cheese making?”

Marcia Chang-Hong, at work at in the kitchen at Thomas and Sons, Blenheim

Marcia Chang-Hong, at work at in the kitchen at Thomas and Sons. Photo credit: Peter Burge Photography

It wasn’t too long after arriving in Marlborough that word of Marcia’s skills and experience got around and she has been in hot demand ever since. Before starting at Thomas & Sons Marcia worked overtime as a freelance chef doing private dinners, as well as cooking for top wineries around the region.

Marcia was keen for a more regular and less frantic work schedule. Having said that, she’s still pretty busy with cooking in the Thomas & Sons kitchen six days a week. All of the beautiful food sold in the cafe is prepared and cooked by Marcia and everything is made from scratch, right down to the delicious chutneys and breads.

 Originally working out of commercial kitchens off-site, Marcia is now in her fifth week in the brand new in-house Thomas & Sons kitchen. It was hard working off-site as Marcia had a limited link with the cafe and was therefore also limited with what she could prepare, cook and deliver. Now being onsite she can make meals fresh and send them out straight away. She also likes being close by to see what’s working and what’s not.

The new winter menu was produced by Marcia working alongside Hamish. From the new menu Marcia is a particular fan of “Grandma Thomas’s savoury mince on toast”. While the recipe is Marcia’s, the meal and title is a nod to Tim and Hamish’s memories of their grandparents’ mince on toast specialty. Marcia also highly recommends the chicken katsu sandwich and pork banh mi rolls. “I like food to have a bit of flavour and be fresh and tasty.”

Thomas and Sons cafe, Marlborough It’s worth popping along to Thomas & Sons regularly as some treats are served only on particular days of the week. Friday, for example, is Marcia’s delicious pizza and the to-die-for chocolate brioche. “Peter, who used to be a baker, says they’re as good as you can get anywhere in the world. Better than in France even. We’re so lucky in Blenheim that we’ve got these, even if it’s only one day a week!” And don’t miss “the best donuts in the world” on Saturdays.

 

Another item not to be missed is Marcia’s carrot cake, for which she is famous all over the world. “Every time I make it people always go crazy, even if they say they don’t like carrot cake!”

We’re so lucky to have Marcia here in Marlborough – come and try the new winter menu and treat yourself to some of Marcia’s magic.

Thomas and Sons Dine in winter menu 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid-winter Christmas at Thomas’s – red carpet, mulled wine & hot prices

Hot winter sale at Thomas's, MarlboroughThe invitations have been sent out, the red carpet is ready to be rolled out … have you received your invite already to the exclusive mid-winter evening preview here at Thomas’s? For our account holders and VIPs only – that’s you!

Come along to Thomas’s this Wednesday evening for some pampering – mulled wine, nibbles, plus designer clothing, homewares and more at mid-winter sale prices. This is an exclusive first view of our sale – across all departments – with some items at up to 70% off original prices, and some discounts available for the one night only.

As an extra treat every purchase will go in the draw to win a $250 Thomas’s voucher!

Grab your friends and escape the cold with some Thomas’s mid-winter shopping fun:

Thomas’s Department Store

Wednesday 13 July

6–8pm

 

What’s in a name? Thomas’s, Thomases, Thomas’, Thomass ?!

What is in a name? Thomas’s has been called such, apostrophe and extra ‘s’ included, since the current owners’ grandfather decided this would have more marketing impact than the alternative of ‘Thomases’.

JE Thomas, Founder of Thomas's, Marlborough

JE Thomas, Founder of Thomas’s

This was back in 1951, not long after the death of John Emlyn (“JE”) Thomas, founder of the store. JE immigrated from Wales in 1908 – from the town of Emlyn – and founded the JE Thomas department store in 1912 on the Market St side of the existing site. In 1939 he died suddenly from pneumonia and the store traded on as an estate.

It was purely a marketing exercise. My father, a great student of English, was well aware the grammar wasn’t correct but he felt Thomas’s rather than Thomases would have a better impact. Looking back, I think that’s probably true,” says Michael Thomas – one of the previous owners who also worked in the store for over 50 years.

The current owners, Michael’s sons Tim and Hamish Thomas, took over this year buying out the previous generation of Thomases.

As the great-grandsons of JE Thomas we’re really proud of the history of the store, and its connection to Blenheim and the Marlborough region. However, sometimes having an apostrophe in the name does pose a few issues – lots of people aren’t keen on apostrophes or don’t see the apostrophe and so spell it Thomass. But we want to honour that history, so Thomas’s it remains!” says Tim.

(Tim and Hamish – The Great-Grandsons of JE Thomas)

Winter winner! Kate Duncan design evening at Thomas’s

Thomas's Design Workshop with Kate Duncan, May 2016 (1)

Our first event with interior designer Kate Duncan drew a sell-out crowd – and it looks like we’ll need to get her back again for those who missed out, and for those thirsty to know more now we’ve whet your appetite!

With her five years of art and design training and her two decades’ experience in the interior design industry, Kate has some real authority on her subject. She is also passionate about good design – and just as passionate about dispelling the myths of bad design – and we felt lucky to have her here sharing her philosophy with Marlborough locals.

Thomas's Design Workshop with Kate Duncan, May 2016 (2)Kate’s talk covered how to approach a home design project, a brief intro to the design process, some insights into what’s popular in home design currently – colours, fabrics and furniture – but also how to future proof your home so it doesn’t become a victim of the dreaded fad!, and she offered some great tips on how to cosy up your home for winter – good lighting being key among them. All the while she left us drooling over the beautiful photographs she’d curated to illustrate her points.

 

Now we can’t begin to do it justice here, but here are some key takeaways from Kate’s talk:

How to make a happy home that endures

  • Try to buy natural materials that will last and improve with age – metal, timber, wool, leather, cotton, linen. So what if your sheets are creased or your dining table has “character”! Your house is to be lived in and much better to surround yourself with natural, sustainable, beautiful materials which get more interesting with age, than those that will deteriorate quickly and end up in a landfill.
  • The key to future proofing your scheme is classic design. And this may not be what you think! According to Kate classic design can cover any number of styles but it boils down to clean lines, balanced proportions, good materials and quality construction. Your sofa, dining table, bed or sidetable should outlast you!
  • The importance of your home’s connection to nature for your health and happiness (it’s true, the stats say so). Make sure your home is oriented to the view, whether that be the beautiful Marlborough vineyards, mountains or sea, or your own lush garden. And Kate says that no one need miss out; if you don’t have the luxury of your own view – bring the outdoors in with living plants. And again, using natural materials in your house will always help towards a happy and healthy home.

Looking for inspiration?

Check out this beautiful ‘Capella’ solid teak buffet and ‘Bogart’ leather sofa from SM Interiors. We can order these (and many more) for you at Thomas’s. Shop our homewares here – or come in and let us order the perfect piece for you!

Citta Throw at Thomas's Department Store in Marlborough, NZ

Snuggle up with this beautiful purl stitch wool throw from Citta

Have you considered wooden bowls – check out these delectable ones from Nest – or their luxurious natural linen bedding.

Thank you!

Lastly we want to extend a big thanks to everybody who attended last week and made the event such a success.

Come along and talk to us in store about how we or Kate can help you purchase the right, long-term items for your happy home.

And watch this space for our next exciting design event!