Clothing Business Comes Home

Raglan’s iconic clothes shop Scintilla is back in town.

After an absence of about six years, Scintilla has just opened in Wallis Street with a selection of its original New Zealand-made clothes along with a range of accessories and a winter sale to boot.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” said owner and Raglan resident Rebecca Dowling, who was enjoying being back in Raglan. “It’s just so nice to reconnect with lots of old faces.”

The former Scintilla shop in Raglan – which initially started under the name of Urchin – closed in an effort to reduce overheads and scale back the business, which was then supplying stores in Hamilton, Silverdale and Wellington, she said.

Scintilla had enjoyed about 12 good years in Raglan and developed quite a following: “It was a big business back then – I had a lot of staff. It was kind of a boom time for the clothing industry.”

Rebecca was busy. She joined forces with her sister, Anna – who had a clothing store in Silverdale – in the Scintilla business and the pair opened a Scintilla shop in both Hamilton, which closed about two years ago, and Wellington.

She had also been selling her creations in Cambridge’s Left Makers Collective shop along with other Raglan artists Hayley Hamilton, Karla Stevenson, Carrie Andrews and Deborah Powel.

That shop closed earlier this year, with the lack of tourists and extra weekend traffic, travel from Raglan and an “off-the-beaten track” location taking its toll.

Online shopping, and cheap imports in particular, had a massive impact on the New Zealand clothing industry, and to counteract it Rebecca had to make careful financial decisions and cut costs wherever she could.

“I think it’s just a reality of the New Zealand economy – the sheer scale of choice we have now,” Rebecca said.

However, the quality and individuality of her pieces had not been compromised, and her clothes were still designed and sewn in the Waikato.

Being unique was an important part of her philosophy, and she was no slave to fashion trends.

She described her signature style as “an individual look with attention to detail for real New Zealand women who like to have a few pieces that are a bit unique.”

Quality and the use of natural fabrics and materials was also part of her signature look, and also helped give the clothes their longevity. Rebecca still saw women wearing Scintilla or Urchin clothes they had bought 10 years ago.

Now she had a smaller operation, Rebecca was also keen to offer a more personalised service, while enjoying the social, practical and creative aspects of being back in Raglan.

Rachel Benn

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