You will meet an eclectic (I actually hate this word but it is suitable here) range of people brewing around the vicinity of Thorne Coffee on George St, from business people to artists and politicians. It’s a bit like Palmy’s version of Central Perk from American sitcom Friends, a real life drama for outspoken thespian Damian Thorne to serve up more than just coffee. After talking to Damian, proprietor extraordinaire – it turns out that this piping hot coffee shop was born to donate life to its bigger sibling shop – Thorne Clothing.
Like most start-up businesses the first few years can be tough, luckily Damian is tough too. He’s specifically told me not to say that he has ‘a passion for fashion’ in fact he replaced it with “clothing is what I give a shit about”. Let’s just say that Damian created Thorne fashion store in September 2015 because the fashion scene for men in Palmy is pretty threadbare and Damian loves fashion and textiles. It has proven a tough market to break into but Thorne is threading its way into the market and stocking an increasing range of handpicked clothes for the discerning buyer.
Damian’s skills are vast, he says he’s always had to work hard to support his love of acting and this has lead him to Sydney and London among other places where he has worked in many fields from catering to men’s fashion and everything in between. He’s the chairperson of the board at Manawatu Theatre Society and admits – he’s more suited to working for himself. Although this is his first time running his own business he feels that it is a natural fit given his past managerial roles and work experiences but it’s not without its challenges.
Shopping local, hell, even going to a shop at all is important to Damian. He wants people to come and touch the fabric, and hear the stories behind his labels. One of those labels Simon Hart is by a Palmy guy that Damian knows from his school days, who now makes shirts – you don’t get much more local than that. He’s also got a delightful range of Doc Martens, and even a range of t-shirts of his own label (Damian T- for the guys who disappointed their Fathers). T-shirts with designs by a tattoo artist are of vast appeal, especially to a younger market. There are Happy Socks and Happy Undies (more than just how you feel when you’re wearing them, this is a label from Sweden), Manbags from Italy made from real Italian leather by real Italian Men, and a select range of shirts – not your boring business shirts, ones with interesting fabrics like Liberty Art fabric from London Shirts. There’s also street wear, and more coming, including a range from popular label illicit. Quite a lot of Thorne clients are women buying for their partners, it’s certainly the place to get the classic Christmas man present of socks and undies – Thorne will give that present a quality edge.
Away from bustling crowds there is space at Thorne for you to have a relaxed look around, for Damian to tend to your fashion needs, and for you to find something that is not mass produced and worn by every second person in Palmy. Purchasing a Thorne product means supporting a local business, keeping a dream alive, and getting a fashion item that has been thoughtfully chosen by a fashion guru. Trust me, Damian is obsessed with image, and the strength of his brand; he would not be seen dead in unfashionable clothing!
Damian prides himself on his customer service, he is exquisitely attentive to his customer’s needs, and wants your experience at Thorne to be enjoyable, for you to walk out with a quality item you can smile about. Thorne is not the only fashion shop on George Street but he is the only one targeting the male market. If you’re a guy that cares about image but hates shopping, Thorne will see you uniquely clothed without battling your way through the crowds at the mall. And if you’ve visited adjacent fashion stores on George St and would like to share the joy of new clothes with your favourite man, pop into Thorne Clothing and get him a present too.
Thorne Clothing is stitching its way into the fabric of the male fashion scene and with little competition for unique male clothing stores in Palmerston North you could find yourself feeling pretty darn special in some exclusive Thorne Clothing.