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Superette turns 20

7 June 2022
Superette co-founder Rickie Dee outside their first Drake Street concept store in Victoria Park.

Style catches up with Superette co-founder Rickie Dee as the cult Kiwi fashion boutique celebrates a very big birthday. Interview Josie Steenhart

Congratulations on 20 years! What have you done to celebrate?

Thanks! We’re calling it a birthday year, so we’ve just kick started the celebrations. We’ve got so many exciting things to come, right from our product collaborations, changing out our packaging for the first time ever and also right through to the Christmas period where we’ll be celebrating the year with our team and our customers. Lots on the go.

How did you land on Superette as the name?

It was inspired by overseas travel and having the desire to open a store that was not just ‘one thing’ and in some way tied into the likes of a convenience store, where you have an array of products and aren’t limited to just being a fashion destination. That’s something that’s very true to what Superette is today – a store of all the things that we were inspired by. It does pay homage to our everyday New Zealand corner store or mini mart – a store made up of an assortment of products to delight and inspire.

What have been some highlights over the years?

So many highlights – right back from when James and I first started the business and opened our first store on Drake St in Freemans Bay, to opening each of the eight stores since then. I love this process. Growing our team to where it is today has certainly been a highlight – having our team alongside us is amazing. I think another highlight is our online store and the growth of this side of the business.

How has the industry changed over two decades?

I think a great deal. When we first started there weren't actually many players in the fashion industry within Auckland that were multi-branded retail concepts & certainly none with cafes housed in them. There’s definitely been a lot more players within the multi-brand market pop up which is great, but also means you do need to work hard to stay ahead and be constantly adapting your model to be doing something different. I guess that's what drives us to keep doing what we do. Online shopping has also added another dimension to the retail industry. It has become a prominent part to our business, and you need to cater to both to ensure you are providing the best service & experience across both channels.

Can you remember some of the first pieces you stocked?

Yes, definitely. I think we look back sometimes and think, “Ahh how did we land on that?”  but at the time it was very much a product we and our customers were passionate about. We had everything from cowhide clogs to a cheesecloth top that we just sold hundreds of units of. It sounds so bizarre now but back then it was so on trend. Sass and Bide ‘Black Rats’ were also a key style that flew out the door & same with Paper Denim & Cloth jeans.

The Christchurch Superette store.

When did you open in Christchurch, and what prompted that?

We opened six years ago. It was always in our plan to have a key store in each of our key cities. I love Christchurch… We had a lot of customers that were shopping with us in Auckland and also online from Christchurch, so it was the obvious next location and it sort of segued from there.

You’re planning to open four more Superette International stores in the next four years, any in the South Island?

Yes, it’s definitely on the radar. We will be opening another International store in the North Island this year and then yes we plan on mirroring the International stores in the areas that we currently have our main Superette stores should Covid decide to play ball.

What are a few of the most popular products ever?

Definitely a blazer – that’s up there. The Camilla and Marc Dimmer Blazer was hugely popular right through to the Anine Bing Kaia Blazer now. The Agolde Riley jeans have been one that season after season continues to be a hero product because they are so easy to wear & a fab cut on all shapes. The Superette Sweat – that continues to do so well every season. The Superette Kent Dress too – it’s one that suits everybody and is one that we continue to put into our Superette collections in different colours or prints.

Do your stock choices differ in different regions?

Yes we do vary it a little at times. We also have certain brands that we’ll only put into certain locations. There are also categories that will sell better in different stores. A big part of the buying process is looking at the data and also just really being in touch with our customers and our retail teams. At the end of the day it's our retail teams that know our customers the best.

What are some of the most popular choices in the South?

I think naturally we sell a lot of our winter products down in the South Island a lot better than we do in the North Island. A puffer jacket, a chunky knit, a coat – things like that! Our in house Superette brand is also very strong in Christchurch. Our customers love it down there.

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