A Channel Mag feature on winter fashion would not be complete without a chat with Scott Donovan from Life For Men in Takapuna. Scott has been making Shore blokes look good for a long long time. For many he’s their ‘go-to’ person at the beginning of each season or for that special occasion.
A catch-up during May held more relevance with that month signalling the 20th birthday for the iconic Hurstmere Road men’s fashion store.
Scott says he has always had an affinity for colour and style. That came from his love of the '80s BMX scene and believe it or not, Miami Vice. Building old-school BMX bikes remains a hobby of Scott’s today.
“When Miami Vice was popular on TV I could see it revolutionising the way Kiwi men dressed, and it did. In those days I was working at ‘Zinzani’ a popular men’s boutique fashion store in Browns Bay. I got the job in 1987 and took over running the store most of the time as the owner loved to play golf. I learnt on the job, taught myself really, as I was either going to sink or swim. I swam fast and loved it."
‘Life’ for Scott Donovan and his team started out on the opposite side of Hurstmere Road back in the early 2000s. By then he had spent 11 years with New Zealand mens fashion chain Politiks, progressing to be Sales Manager and Buyer. Scott yearned for his own business, so Life For Men was conceived. Twenty years on it is an institution on the Shore and Scott is recognised as the best on the Shore.
“The name came from discussions with my wife at the time and we set about creating a store that had a real point of difference,” explains Scott. “We had a putting green, great coffee, and as well as menswear we had some other bits and pieces, such as furniture."
The new store quickly gathered a strong clientele and a second store was opened over the road three years later. Then came the GFC downturn of the late 2000s and some belt tightening was required. But Life For Men has continued to thrive.
“I do believe that our customers love to be challenged with their boundaries when it comes to fashion so they appreciate my take-no-prisoners approach to making them look good,” adds Scott. "We have always had brands that are at the forefront of fashion so have had the range to ensure there is something suited to everyone. I have developed a rapport and trust with our customers that I can make them look good so most keep coming back. I have been fortunate to have very loyal staff during those 20 years, people who have share my passion for our business and clients. Wendy Parker has been with me for 12 of those years and Gaby Munro for 11 before she decided to emigrate to Wanaka.”
Scott says men’s fashion has changed in recent years with a move to a smart casual softer look and feel.
“We have stocked very well for that softer look and feel for winter 2022. That has been our success over the years, reading the market the right way. We have a wide range, including smart casual trousers, jeans and shirts. Included is a range of soft Italian shirting that feels like butter – natural cottons that are super soft with under-button collars. Things are certainly more relaxed and not so tight.”
Popular brands at the moment at Life For Men include Fil Noir, Diesel, Scotch & Soda, Gaudi, Ted Baker and SuperDry.
“We are loving the new Hurstmere Road (after the substantial make-over) and are receiving very good comments from our customers,” adds Scott. “The new street-scape has a real calm feel and we see locals learning to love it. Despite publicity to the contrary, there is lots of parking once people get used to the change. I am very positive about the future for Takapuna. It will remain our home that’s for sure.”
The site of the current Life For Men store has been sold and redevelopment is on its way. That will likely mean a shift for the store over the next year to 18 months. (They will be staying in Takapuna.) As is his way Scott is looking forward to that challenge and the opportunity change things up a bit to keep his valued clients coming back for more.
Due to the post-Covid period still being a little uncertain there hasn't been massive partying to celebrate Life For Men’s 20 year milestone, but Scott reckons there will be when they celebrate their 21st in mid-2023!
Happy birthday Life For Men, we love it that one of New Zealand’s very best fashion businesses is right here on the Shore!
Life For Men, 31 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Open Mon-Sat 10.00am-5.00pm. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.