The brand name is made up of Blair Wheeler’s initials, BW, paired with the longitude and latitude coordinates of Auckland, New Zealand where each garment is created. Wheeler grew up in Auckland, passionate about skateboarding and skate culture. “I still skate and as such, the culture has morphed into my personal style,” he said. After high school, Wheeler received a scholarship to Whitecliffe where he developed his unique and experimental fabric style.
Before Whitecliffe, Wheeler had attended an all-boys school which he found was very restrictive. “They controlled my hair style, length, colour and essentially everything about how I looked in order to keep me the same as everyone else. This was the perfect environment for me to rebel,” Wheeler explained. He would turn up to school with a mohawk and the sides of his head shaved; this resulted in Wheeler being immediately sent home. Wheeler decided to tune his desire for rebellion into his design, photography and painting. He quickly topped all of these subjects and used the portfolios as a stepping stone into the fashion arena. One of Wheeler’s first garments were inspired by skate clothing, especially jackets, that were heavy and harder to wear in summer. He created a jacket that was lightweight, relatively breathable and had shoulder straps so the user could drape it over their shoulders like a backpack. This is another element that Wheeler has adapted and refined into his garments today. “I think it’s a really unique feature, which I really haven't seen anywhere else in New Zealand. Before Whitecliffe, all of my pieces were purely experimentation, a lot of trial and error and figuring out what I liked and what looked good.”
Now, Wheeler enjoys the design and creating process where he makes every garment himself first. “I can tweak it and play around with the design a bit to ensure its exactly what I want,” he added. Wheeler then works with outworkers who sew each bespoke piece. Working with high-quality materials is one of the label’s core values. “Because of this, I place great importance on fabric treatment specialising in comfortable cuts while always maintaining the ethos of the brand.”
Wheeler recognises that it is fundamental to have one on one time with his clients and believes it is important to establish a loyal clientele.
New Zealand's countryside profoundly influenced his current collection. “Auckland is surrounded by 48 volcanoes, a lot of people don’t know that. My colour palette has been established from the earthy tones in the land around Auckland. My greys have been taken from volcanic rock, similarly, with my reds, they have been created to reflect lava and so on,” he explained. His brand has a huge focus on its customers having a personal experience and describes it as more of a partnership between the brand and each client.
His dream would be to have an appointment based physical space where I can have one on one time with each client. Wheeler wants to continue pushing the boundaries of fabric manipulation and maintaining an innovative pattern work.
“My garments are made in New Zealand and from New Zealand, I will always maintain true to my roots.”