I’ve popped into True on Barton Street to catch up with owner Andrea Downey. I’m not the only one. Ahead of me is a woman in a vibrant, orange sun dress looking effortlessly elegant. Hugs are exchanged while True Sales Manager Shantell Carter is preparing new pieces off the rack for the woman to try on. It is quickly evident that this is a place where customers become friends and staff know not just what would look great on you, but what you like. Marketing Manager Domi Gatley echoes this thought when she says, “It’s lovely to see how people style their pieces and make things their own on returning visits in store.”
Later, I sit down to chat with Andrea to find out how True came about, and we talk about her desire to fulfil an offering that wasn’t in Hamilton and open a store that curated timeless, classic, quality New Zealand and international brands to the region. It’s clear that fashion is the conduit, the real joy comes from the people. “It was not necessarily a dream I had, but if my mother was alive today, she would not be at all surprised.”
Trues first store opened in March 2017 with a 70 sqm store on the corner of Barton and London streets. At the time Andrea says, “the vision was to offer clothing to the Hamilton market that was the furthest from fast fashion.”
Domi describes their offering well when she says their “clothing timelessly suits an elevated wardrobe”. This means beautiful fabrics, quality workmanship and a focus on sustainability – not just the ethos of the companies creating the clothing but the fact that the pieces will last for years. “Plus,” Andrea says with a smile, “we have to love it.”
Turns out others share what they love, and the True store today is twice the size of the original. The bigger space has allowed the range to expand to include menswear, footwear and accessories all holding true to the original vision.
Andrea describes the buying process as “challenging but equally an absolute thrill”, noting it’s great to be able to do this in person again. The personal touch plays a big part on the True story and starts with the buying process. Andrea and Domi admit they often have clients in mind when they are on a buying trip.
The other thrill for Andrea, or what she describes as the best part of True, is the staff, happily admitting, “I couldn’t do it without them.” She goes on to say her team of seven “are a passionate group of stylists who form a really loyal connection with clients”. And this is the true reason this store in the heart of Hamilton is flourishing.
Word Vicki Ravlich-Horan
Images Ashlee DeCaires