Shop 9 Boutique: Fashion with an Edge

Words Megan Lyon, Images Ashlee DeCaires

A lifetime lover of design, fashion, and interiors, Rosemary Poole was looking for a career change and identified a need in Hamilton’s clothing scene to bring fashion with an edge. She jumped on an opportunity in 2009, opening Shop 9, named for its location at 9 Braid Road, St Andrews, and in July this year celebrates 15 years. In 2022 they moved to River Road, occupying the space between the French Tart café and Va Va Voom Hospice store.

Rosemary’s eclectic vision is shaped by what inspires her visually and texturally, with an appreciation of quality fabrics. At home she loves her amazing collection of furs and taxidermy, juxtaposed with more modern pieces. At Shop 9 one might just find one of these beloved furs casually draped over a classic wooden chair bringing warmth and personality into the space.

This also echoes Rosemary’s sustainability stance, which sees a careful selection of designers and choosing fabrics and styles that are both enduring and long-lasting. Shop 9 attracts stylish regulars from their neighbourhood, some of whom pop in several times a week for a look and a chat.

While the European fashion scene is inspirational and key in fashion forecasting, there is pride and excitement found in supporting closer to home New Zealand and Australian labels. These include Trelise Cooper, Turet Knuefermann, and Mossman, and on the accessories side there are Kathryn Wilson shoes, Saben bags, and jewellery from local maker Crystal and Cord who make bespoke pieces, mainly for weddings. “I love to wear understated with a bit of edge,” says Rosemary, “and that’s pretty common in the over 50s market.” She cites two of her favourite designers – Shen, designed by Mary-Ellen Prendergast and  Turet Knuefermann as timeless and easy to elevate.

Rosemary’s daughter Natasha Poole joined her mother, after having her son, seeking a creative role offering more flexibility. She has grown the e-commerce side of the business considerably, working with a web developer for the practical aspects, and they attribute 30% of their business to online sales, often in rural areas. Natasha’s fashion is right on trend and she enthuses: “I just want to wear everything!” This mother and daughter team is complemented by Marise Savage and between them cover a range of ages, all enjoying the interactions with their regular clients.

One such client of Rosemary’s is Anna, a primary school teacher, who started buying from her 15 years ago and values on trend fashion. They both appreciate this trusted long-term relationship and being able to have a laugh together. Rosemary has noticed Anna’s style develop with increased confidence built in selecting key pieces over this period. “It has kept her looking youthful and Anna can rock an outfit really well by mixing fabrics up such as leather and silk.”

Having clients for either Mother of the Bride or Groom is also very fulfilling for the team, especially for those non-traditional edgy outfits that are special. There are often one-off pieces, sometimes just one in New Zealand, which means that there is never any risk of the dreaded outfit double up. There are some style classics, such as the Berlin dress, which they’ve consistently sold since opening. Rosemary bought this dress in 2010 and recently wore it to a dinner in Auckland, proving the adage of buying well.

There’s been some challenges, especially with Covid 19 lockdowns, yet on the other side they’re delighted to see women elevating their outfits. While rugby matches may be the perfect reason to slip into some activewear, it turns out many women will complement their jeans with a special shirt or cashmere top. They’ve also noticed an appetite for dressing up for an occasion and making the most of attending events and functions which are already fast filling up calendars this year.

Looking ahead for the 2024 winter season is a rich palette of mulberry, dark navy and caramels. We can expect to see some long-line denim skirts and the return of cowboy boots – here they’ve gone for a classic style from Kathryn Wilson shoes.

Having a strong sense of Rosemary’s personal style enlivens the space and adds to its warm and friendly atmosphere. Here natural light is important with floaty linen curtains and a minimalist aesthetic setting off the colours, textures and luxe. “The clothes need to speak,” declares Natasha.

Their clients are hard to categorise, ranging from landscape gardeners to lawyers, yet everybody is made to feel welcome with a friendly and relaxed approach to helping women find what they want.  Rosemary says, “We don’t rush people. We know that investment takes some time and we want women to leave here feeling happy and good about themselves.” Natasha echoes this sentiment, adding that it is “definitely a place where you can find something special”.

Shop 9,
546B River Road, Hamilton

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