There’s something a bit special about the clothes that Kiwi Country Clothing are bringing to this year’s Highland Show.

First off, everything on sale is high performance clothing, if it says waterproof, you can rest assured that you are not going to get wet, if it says breathable, you are not going to sweat. At first glance you may think they are a bit pricey, but trust me, you are buying quality that will last for years, as I found out by accident, but more of that later..  I spoke to Elizabeth McGuiness, founder of Kiwi Country Clothing.

Originally from Monaghan, Ireland, but moved to New Zealand in 1998, Elizabeth returned to Ireland in 2012 on a mission to dress people effectively for cold and wet weather. As one who suffers terribly from the cold, she found on her initial trip to New Zealand that they had wonderful warm clothing of such high quality and wet weather oilskins that could not be matched.

“To be honest, I had been bringing much of this range home with me on holidays since 1998. Then in 2012 I decided that there was an obvious gap in the market for high performance, made from natural fibre cold weather and wet weather gear. Being from a farming background myself, I knew that this would work as a business, albeit a risk given the very deep recession Ireland was in at the time.

“In fact, there have been occasions where complete strangers have asked me to sell a coat or sweater off my back and I have obliged maybe three or four times at least!  She recalls a man stopping her in the street in 1999 in Ireland when she was wearing the ubiquitous kiwi farm coat, half sleeve with long tail. The guy was insisting that she sell it to him, as he had been looking for this exact coat for years and could not find it, and she could always get another one in NZ, so she did. The Outback oilskins are 1200 gauge Egyptian cotton and guaranteed 100% waterproof, breathable and resistant to barbed wire.

“Outback would have 90% of the total farming and outdoor pursuits market share in New Zealand”, says Elizabeth, and NZ gets a lot more heavy rain than we do here in the northern hemisphere. “The Pathfinder coat is our signature men’s winter coat which will endure for many years. There are also a range of very tailored ladies’ jackets, as in the Sheila’s Delight pictured in this article for casual wear, and the all-rounder Farm/farrier/Vet half sleeved work coat. There are matching overpants and chaps.

Super socks

This is not a joke. Elizabeth is bringing her best-selling (and usually a sell out) possum welly boot socks that you don’t wash. Quote from Jimmy to come

The ultimate welly boot sock that requires little or no washing, does not smell, keeps the foot, sock and boot odour free (there are many reviews on the KCC website which confirm this phenomenon), and is most hardwearing sock that seems to last for anything from 1-2 years with all-year round wearing. They cure chill blains and fix cracked heels.  

“This particular sock is the most expensive boot sock we make in New Zealand, in fact there are about 90 plus different boot socks made, and this one is also proving by far the most durable and effective. Priced at €64, it remains by far, our highest selling sock, and all through word of mouth and great reviews by customers, moreover by wives and girlfriends of male famers.” And you are only permitted one pair. Elizabeth is so confident in their ability that she says there is no requirement for two pairs as they last for such a long time.

RHASS board member Jimmy, Muir, is a firm supporter of the super socks. He said: “I’ve been wearing these socks for 14 hours a day for 3-4 weeks for the past year and they do not smell, and I do have smelly feet.

“They are comfy and they don’t roll down my leg. I know they are expensive but I swear by them.”

They stock foot and hand solutions for diabetes and Raynaud’s to amazingly comfortable handmade super soft cotton underwear,’ Fanny and Freddie Adams’ (originally designed for ladies in the saddle and other sporting activities, they are now deemed best ever garment for stoma clients).

Then onto the high performance possum merino knitwear, 55% warmer than merino and 35% warmer than cashmere, yet is softer, warmer, stronger and much more durable than cashmere, and does not itch the skin and most importantly does not pill like cashmere.

Possum merino can only be sourced in New Zealand. The recycled possum fibre woven into the superfine merino wool creates this soft and super warm fabric which endures better than any other woollen product and needs little or no care. A most remarkable feature of this product is that it can reduce pain significantly, especially in winter whereby people who suffer cold intolerance, whether due to circulatory issues, inflammatory issues, the possum merino and possum products will have a very positive impact. (see panel)

They carry a range of fantastic sweaters for men and ladies (up to 4XL for men) which are very light, warm but robust and need very little care.

“We also make a specific sock for diabetes sufferers which has a soft top, is seamless, with low tension, so does not irritate the skin, and only requires washing every month to six weeks.

“Likewise we have a range of gloves for people who suffer from Raynaud’s, poor circulation or have arthritis. Type 2 diabetes has become such a massive medical issue, especially amongst men over 50, and it is essential to keep their feet, and their skin, in particular, in good order.

They also make bespoke possum fur and leather shoes, boots and hand wear for people who have had trauma to their feet or hands, or who are wheelchair bound, or have bad circulation. Kiwi Country get referrals from numerous GPs and eight hospitals in Ireland to relieve pain related symptoms.

 “We make to measure and deliver to your door from NZ in two weeks,” says Elizabeth. “We also carry the possum fur insoles and increasingly find that along with our gloves that these are source of relief for people who suffer neuropathy post chemotherapy in their hands and feet.”

Lastly there are the big knickers! Fanny and Freddie Adams handmade luxury velvet cotton underwear. What started life as bespoke underwear for ladies in the saddle who had “issues down south” in the saddle, these fantastic underpants are now deemed best ever for pure comfort, cool in summer, warm in winter, snug fit, no movement, no riding up, no VPL, so chaffing. They have become ideal for cycling, pilates, yoga and all sporting activities. Guys love the comfort in hot summers as they remain aerated, dry and no clamminess which we all agree is very important.

They have also been deemed best ever underpants for STOMA wear, as they sit high above the pouch, keeping it in place, cause no movement, do not itch and are warm in winter, cool in summer.

Most unusually and most commendable, Elizabeth says that they are happy to make bespoke to order for anyone who has a unique body shape. Withy Kiwi Country Clothing, nothing is a problem.

For equestrian pursuits, the Low Rider duster and waterproof chaps are core items in the Kiwi Country Clothing range. They also boast that they can dress very large men as they carry sizes of some products up to 6XL.

So there you have it… from head to toe… anything you need to stay warm and dry, Kiwi Country Clothing will see you right.

Priase be for my little black gloves

A pair of fluffy black woolly gloves appeared in the office mail for me last year, they sat in my drawer for a while then I took them home. Fast forward to December when I unfortunately ended up with nerve damage to my hand. Two months of a nervy palsy and a floppy hand with no sensation on the back of my hand and wrist. Remember the snow we had? I couldn’t drive with the dodgy hand so I had to walk everywhere, and I found I couldn’t get my hand into a ski glove, my fingers couldn’t be guided into the finger holes.

 I found the fluffy gloves – they felt different to the usual black ones the kids have, more velvety. My hand slipped in easily, and as I had one hand at a normal temperature and a pretty cold hand, I found that the gloves kept my floppy hand beautifully warm and my other hand didn’t sweated. I wasn’t aware what they were made of until by chance I mentioned it to Elizabeth at Kiwi Country Clothing to thank her for sending me these little miracles. She explained that they were possum merino which is a super warm fabric that endures better than any other woollen product and needs little or no care. And it can reduce pain considerably especially in winter for people who suffer cold intolerance. I’m really impressed with these average looking, but velvety feeling, little gloves, and they pack such a therapeutic punch.