Meet the local: Tom Newfield
Tom Newfield is the brains behind some of Christchurch's best hospo haunts: Welles Street pub, Earl bistro, Welder Events and Bottle + Stone. ...
From High Street, to destruction, to Re:START and back, Infinite Definite is a classic story of a business in the Christchurch CBD, earthquakes and recovery. Fashion designer and retailer Jono Moran talks the journey over with What's Hot New Zealand.
Infinite Definite’s origin story began back in 2008 as a menswear label which I designed and had manufactured right here in Christchurch. We were looking for stockists for Infinite Definite and the opportunity came along to rent a space on High Street in the old ANZ Bank Chambers building. So we decided to open our own store to sell Infinite Definite in Christchurch. There were plenty of other talented emerging designers that weren't being stocked here at that time, so we broadened our offering to encompass a range of New Zealand brands as well as some international ones we thought would resonate with our customers. It was also an exciting opportunity for me to design and build our first interior space to represent our brand (on a shoestring budget).
The Canterbury earthquakes came along two years into our business, shutting us down for around six weeks following the September quakes, and then ultimately losing our first store in the February quakes along with everything in it. After leaving the store that day we were never able to go back in.
Around five months later, after looking at all sorts of potential spaces in suburban and industrial areas around Christchurch and not finding anything that we thought would work for our business, Re:START came along. Four weeks on, we were back up and running in the central city just a few blocks away from where we started.
Re:START was an incredibly important project for the Christchurch Central City. It was one of the only functioning areas of our CBD for the first couple of years and without it, businesses like us may not have been able to take part in reforming our city in those early years.
Following the earthquakes we decided to focus solely on the retail part of our business and put our menswear label to the side for the time being. We rocked along for five and a half years in our Re:START store, all the while looking for a permanent place to call home.
In 2016, we signed a lease in a new build which had enough space for us to further develop Infinite Definite, back on High Street right on the edge of what would become the new Retail Precinct.
I wanted to create a calm space with a simple palette of colours, materials and textures that I felt would offer us flexibility to curate and showcase our eclectic range of goods and designers. It was important that the store had an easy flow and that people had space to take things in visually while they moved through. Hopefully this is the experience people have when they visit us.
High Street is feeling a lot more like the High Street we knew pre-quake. In a lot of ways it is still in a very formative stage, which is exciting. Among a few of us who were High Street originals, we are seeing new artist-run spaces popping up and other independent retail spaces coming into the mix as well.
I do miss having the older building stock in the CBD, which provided affordable spaces for creatives to set up studios right in the heart of the city, but in reality a lot of it wasn’t used and wasn’t fit for purpose, so I don’t get too hung up on the past. The future of Christchurch’s central city and Infinite Definite’s part in it is my focus.
I love the public spaces that are forming in our city, and we have such an incredible mix of small business.
By 2030, I would love to see more people living in our central city, along with the long-overdue completion of the anchor projects like the stadium and convention centre.
I am excited about where central Christchurch is heading. There is an exciting energy in the city at the moment, with more and more businesses filling in the gaps and bringing new colour to the CBD. I think we are at a great turning point where the city is once again becoming a regular part of people's daily lives.
The best thing about my job would be that it gives me a place to work creatively alongside other creatives. No day is the same and every day we are looking for how we can develop our brand and do something new.
Choosing brands for Infinite Definite has always been first and foremost about things we want to wear ourselves, things we want to use in our own home, and things that inspire us. Our decisions are ultimately design-focused and we are always looking for goods that have integrity in their own right.
The Lifestore is an area of our business that is growing a lot and it was one of the major reasons we looked for a larger floorspace on our return to High Street. We have so many exciting new homewares coming in over summer. As with our offering in apparel, our Lifestore is eclectic and we aim to curate an exciting and interesting mix of products, many of which are things Sarah and I use at home or are drawn to in terms of design.