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Dappermen is a new shop in town for Rangiora. Photo supplied.

Dapper decision

Owning a menswear fashion store in Rangiora is a long way from playing professional cricket in England, but perhaps not as far as some might think.

Rangiora’s Simon Murphy has burst out of Lockdown with a bold new plan. The former professional cricketer is poised to open Dappermen. And, the edgy menswear store – which will include a barber – is collecting awards even before its doors swing open on Rangiora’s main street.

Dappermen is the recent winner of the Boost North Canterbury campaign. The $16,000 package is part of the jumpstart for local business post-Covid.

 

Cricket and clothes help maketh the man

The name is the first clue that this store will be different. You could argue whether Dappermen’s name is a “nod” to the influence England’s focus on fashion had on Simon while he was living there. Or whether it is his grandfather, Graeme, who Simon says was a “dapper dresser”.  

Either way, the name has stamped the store out early. Simon’s local cricketing peers routinely give him grief over taking a “pride in his appearance”, but you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll soon be in-store assessing their options.

The 45-year-old fast bowler spent 12 seasons playing in England. He still holds the first division Liverpool’s league record for taking 110 wickets in a season, when he was playing for Ainsdale (on the northwest coast of England).

“Sport gave me some confidence, and I’m grateful for the relationships that span the world, and which will never be broken,” Simon said.

“I’ve seen a lot of the world doing it, and it’s been a pretty incredible ride. I’m looking forward to including those experiences and influences in Dappermen.”

 

England fashion-forward

He says the great thing about England has been its deep-seated love of cricket since the first recorded game in 1597. And, it is the stunning cricket-specific grounds, elegant pavilions, his good friends, and the fashion-forward culture he holds close.

“The English are very fashion conscious, and they experiment a lot more over there a lot more than what we probably do here,” Simon said.

“I would like men to have a choice of fashion locally, which shows who they are a bit more.

“I look at the old days, when women were dressed to the nines, and men wore a three-piece suit, and if we can re-claim a little bit of that, it would be nice. Just a little bit. Like, you still have your fashion edge.

“But there is such a focus on physical health nowadays being a huge part of society, that I’m looking forward to offering choices that help them look good, as well as feeling good.

“So, they can really wear their personal success with style.”

 

No pre-match nerves

He says he has no pre-match nerves as Dappermen’s August opening day draws nearer.

“No, it makes me excited.”

Dappermen’s labels will include Diesel, Scotch & Soda, RM Williams, Superdry, Cutler & Co., Pearly King (England), G-star, Boga, Artex and Summit. He will also carry his own Dappermen clothing label. The choices will cross from jeans to suits, and include a limited range of footwear.

And, he promises it won’t be just about the clothes.

“If someone wants to come in and just sit on the couch and have a yarn to us, I want to really encourage that sense of community. So, it’s a safe place to come and be yourself, and have a chat.

“And, whether they buy something or not, I want them to feel good about walking out the door.”

 

Barber an artist

The barber shop also promises to have a different feel. Simon wants to bring some “artistry” to the role, and he is currently interviewing candidates for the position.

An inspiration close to home for him is Adrienne Spark, the former owner of Rangiora Sparks Menswear. Growing up, Simon said Adrienne brought a sense of pride, and belonging which still impacts him.

“Adrienne looked after everyone and she’s definitely someone whose focus on service has stuck with me. People always associated Sparks with Adrienne, and if I can replicate half of what she achieved, then I’ll have a successful business.”

 

Thanks mum

Simon’s mother, Jill, can take a bow for bringing her son home from England, when she applied for a job on his behalf without him knowing with the then brewery, Canterbury Draught.

Home for a friend’s wedding, he attended the interview and ultimately, got the job and moved home to New Zealand. And, his journey has now come full circle to Rangiora.

Still playing and coaching cricket locally, Simon said giving back is part of his mission. He also won’t step down from playing until he has to.

He smiled: “Not while I’m still bowling quick enough to put the young fellas on their arse, when I need to.”

 

Invaluable leg-up

The Boost North Canterbury award was sponsored by the Northern Outlook, The Mark Creative, Sidekick Accounting and Compass FM.

Simon says it has given him an invaluable leg-up.

“It’s more than the marketing, advertising and accountancy,” he said. “They’re generously sharing their experience and their ideas as well. And, they are all such important facets of the business.

“I’m thrilled they saw the vision I put on paper, and they could see the potential, my passion, and what Dappermen brings to Rangiora. Because there is no store like it.”

He smiled when he said his sons, Oliver, 14, and Malachy, 13, were also looking forward to the opening. And, he is conscious of their age group. He is hoping to expand into the 12-17 age groups by summer 2020.

“The boys don’t know what they think they’re going to do, but they think they’re getting paid to work there,” he laughed.

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