RWC Maori designers strike deal with French store

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(NZ Herald) A Maori design network vying for a slice of the $1.5 billion tourism spend projected during this year’s Rugby World Cup, has struck a deal with an international retailer to pitch its product to the world stage.

The work of North Island based Maori designer Shane Hansen has been emblazoned on branded apparel, for sale at The Rugby Shop’s Toulon store in France.

The news comes just months after the Nga Aho network won the contract to produce Maori designs for official merchandise during next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Nga Aho chairman Rau Hoskins said the contracts were an important step for the network as it sought to become more marketable to clients.

Nga Aho was set up last year as a way to promote dialogue among Maori designers in New Zealand.

Hoskins said The Rugby Shop in Toulon was trialing a limited edition of 399 long sleeved t-shirts and polo tops under the Rugby Shop’s Timaru brand.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand the first batch of Canterbury of New Zealand branded t-shirts and hoodies featuring the work of several North Island-based Maori designers came off the production line last month and is now in several stores across New Zealand.

Greg Flynn of sports marketing firm Sportfolio, which is managing the property for the Maori art designs, said he was anticipating the clothing would prove a winner with the buying public because of its uniqueness in the market.

“There’s a lot of Maori art out in the market but there’s not any other Maori art that is associated with the Rugby World Cup brand,” he said.

Nga Aho’s work would be sold in up to 250 Rugby World Cup stores across the country and there was scope to get the Canterbury brand, featuring the network’s designs into retailers in other major rugby playing nations, he said.

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