Two fencers (at left) at Aotuhia sport the ubiquitous Swanndri bush shirt, probably in the early 1980s. In 1913 New Plymouth tailor William Broome registered the trademark ‘Swanndri’ for a weatherproof woollen shirt. Machinists around Taranaki made the garments until 1955, when the trademark was licensed to John and Lillian McKendrick, who operated a clothing business in Waitara. Instead of using Broome’s wet-dipping process, the McKendricks purchased closely-woven woollen cloth from Timaru’s Alliance Textiles. Output increased and the Swanndri’s popularity boomed during the 1950s and 1960s. The long green bush shirts or plaid jackets became the accepted garb for farmers, hunters, deer cullers, timber workers and shepherds throughout the country. Alliance Textiles, involved in the firm from 1975, took over the operation completely in 1991 and moved production to Timaru soon after. Manufacturing of the Swanndri range moved to Asia in the early 2000s. Since 2004 the business has been owned by Swanndri New Zealand.
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Jane Dove Juneau Photography
Photograph by Jane Dove-Juneau
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