Moving with the times, womenswear brand Max is undergoing a significant transformation at the hands of new owners Barkers menswear.

Customers will see whole new ranges hit stores including a fully revamped main line including garments made with Liberty Fabrics, resort and the first drop of Elementary, featuring relaxed, timeless silhouettes in organic cotton, linen and other natural materials. 

A shift to a more responsible business model - like that of parent company Barkers - sees a move away from synthetic fabrics and a greater emphasis on quality design and the use of more natural, sustainable materials. 

Teaming up with local artisans, a curated collection of new lifestyle product includes handmade jewellery by Jasmin Sparrow and Love Winter, ceramics by Claybird Ceramics, organic beauty products by Country Kitchen, loose leaf teas from Storm and India, and Turkish towels from Otto Loom.

International brands also feature, including jeans from Levi’s, sneakers from Los Angeles brand Clae and leather footwear by James Smith.

Rolling out across Max’s 37 stores in time for spring/summer, the new multi-brand, large scale boutique shopping experience is more akin to how women want to shop today, said Max GM Rochelle MacDonald. 

“Today’s customer likes to cross-shop across multiple brands. She wants to be inspired, to dwell and discover. She wants garments that are made to last and to know what she’s wearing is sustainably and ethically made," said MacDonald.

New-look stores are in the works, with features such as remodelled changing rooms and a personal styling service. With new stores opening in Westfield Newmarket in late November and in Milford early next year, the concept will be rolled out across the rest of the group over time.

Group MD Jamie Whiting, who worked briefly at Max in 2009 and has helmed locally owned Barkers through its own transformation over the past decade, says he has long held a vision for Max and what it could become. 

“In its heyday - the 90s and early 00s - Max was the go-to fashion destination for many Kiwi women," said Whiting. 

“At the core of our vision we wanted to create a premium lifestyle brand for the modern woman, and as a New Zealand brand, Max is in a unique position to best understand the nuances of the New Zealand woman. This extends out beyond our own products to the collections we have been working on with local artisans. We love the idea of working collaboratively to help grow New Zealand businesses.” 

Of Barkers acquiring a sister brand in Max, the brands are a natural fit said Whiting. 

“Brand, customer, size, marketing positioning, they’re all aligned but we want to elevate Max back to where it first began.”

Barkers also looked at creating a women’s brand a few years back, with that brand Elementary now incorporated into the new Max offering.

While the relaunch has officially been a year in the making, the seeds of change stretch back several years, said MacDonald. 

“We know this is what Max customers want, they’ve been telling us for a long time. They want Max to be cool again," said MacDonald.