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One-off shirts prove popular

Posted at 11:49am Monday 16 Nov, 2020

Mo has received a number of manufacturing orders from retailers who are having a hard time importing garments due to Covid-19.
Mo has received a number of manufacturing orders from retailers who are having a hard time importing garments due to Covid-19.

A men's shirt maker in Mahurangi West has gained attention throughout the country for her vibrant prints.

For the past year, Mo Cullen has been a one-woman operation working out of her garage.

But her business is now bursting at the seams, prompting her to hire three part-time staff to help with manufacturing.

By September, the business was producing 150 shirts a fortnight to fill orders.

Mo's Kiwiana prints have proved the most popular, featuring motifs such as pohutukawas at the beach and caravans, but she has an ever-changing range of limited-edition patterns.

“You're never going to see someone else walking down the street wearing the same shirt,” she says.

Mo searches locally and abroad to find different prints, sourcing fabrics from Auckland and Los Angeles.

“I try to find something you couldn't buy at Albany,” she says.

One of her customers wore a one-off commission tomato print shirt for an interview on television.

Since then her shirts have been picked up by the likes of Graham Henry and Dave Dobbyn. Even the CEO of Rodd & Gunn ordered a shirt.

When Mo started selling overseas, she received orders all the way from the Netherlands and Nepal.

Mo labels herself a “shirtsmith”. As well as on the rack collections, she produces one-off commissions of unique items, finding prints based on a customer's vision.

She also customises her prints for various events around New Zealand, including a one-off range featuring mechanical clocks and hot air balloons for an upcoming steam punk festival in Thames.

The retro prints are also popular at the annual Whangamata Beach Hop.

Mo says her mission in life is to eradicate the blue chequered shirt from men's wardrobes.

“I don't do boring.”

The shirts cost from $149, and up to $250 for a custom one-off design. They come in medium sized up to 4XL.

All of the shirts are made from cotton and feature buttons made from coconut shell.

Her shirts can be found in Warkworth Menswear, Fossick & Find in Matakana and at mocullenshirtsmith.co.nz

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