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Brand Stories

Famous brands we love and how they came up with their cult status identities

Illustrations: Adam Batchelor


When Simon Woolley returned from working in New York in 2002, he sat down with three friends – Peter Cullinane, Kim Thorp and Howard Greive – to discuss his next career move. The three friends had only recently left Saatchi and Saatchi Wellington, possibly the most famous Saatchi office outside of London’s Charlotte Street. They too were on the hunt for the Next Big Thing. They considered the obvious: restaurants and wine. They discussed deep-sea fishing and aquaculture, and almost went with canned tuna. It wasn’t until Thorp picked up a bottle of the French water over dinner and quipped “Why are we drinking this?” that the penny dropped. It was a mystery to the Antipodes founders why the majority of bottled water consumed in New Zealand, which is famous for its pristine alpine conditions, came from Europe. By contrast, Antipodes now sells over two million bottles of water a year, sourced on their doorstep from one of the least populated countries on earth.

Stolen Girlfriends Club

In ‘05, three friends – Dan Gosling, Marc Moore and Luke Harwood – founded a boutique clothing brand, Stolen Girlfriends Club in Auckland.  The brand was formed on the basis of a ‘vibe’ rather than a product range, the guys wanting to recreate the feeling between music, art and clothing through their brand. They launched with a low key art show, ‘Stolen Girlfriends Club’, where they hung a painted shopping trolley and a few pairs of their jeans from the ceiling, and played a short film.  The art show was a huge success and, when they formally launched their brand shortly afterwards, it was only natural that it would be under the same name.   11 years later, Stolen Girlfriends Club is a cult brand sold all around the world.


A magazine devoted to coffee culture, DRIFT is about wandering the streets aimlessly, discovering the hidden gems of urban neighbourhoods, flat white in hand.  A software engineer by trade, Adam Goldberg founded DRIFT off the back of a love of fine food, coffee, and a dream to share it with others.  His obsession with food started at 13 years old, when his close friend, who had just moved from Sichuan, China, invited him to spend the summer with his family back home. The burn of spicy peppers, sweetness of soy milk, and smooth textures of offal were incredibly exciting. Adam returned to New York and started spending his weekends steaming rice and visiting Flushing Chinatown, one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia. He then started a blog called ‘A Life Worth Eating’.  The rest was the natural progression of a man whose fingers simply can’t keep up with his stomach.

The Great Frog

The Great Frog has designed bespoke jewellery for many international names, including Metallica, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Johnny Depp, Lady Gaga and Oasis. It started as a family project in a basement on Ganton Street, Soho in 1972 and has now expanded to New York and Los Angeles. Today, The Great Frog remains a family business and is run by Reino – the son of the original founder. Staying true to the business’ roots, every piece of jewellery is still individually handmade in the same basement in Soho, London.