From Oscar victories to Grammy awards, smartphone technology to the screens of New York’s Times Square, New Zealand is fast becoming known as one of the coolest and most innovative nations on earth. Three can-do Kiwis are taking the world by (and sheltering it from) storm, further cementing the nation’s reputation with their re-invention of the humble umbrella. They’ve called it Blunt.
“Nothing else comes close to our technology,” says Design Director Greig Brebner. “We’ve redefined the market. While some other takes on umbrella-design can be gimmicky, ours ticks every box. Once people have used it, they never go back.”
The secret lies in its radial tension system which boasts a superior mechanism, frame and super-taught fabric that keeps the canopy in place in the mightiest of winds. Reinforced edges prevent the age-old problem of the wire poking through. Blunt’s Facebook page showcases a video of the award-winning umbrella dropped from twenty feet with a concrete block strapped to the handle. It lands with a thud, but doesn’t turn inside out. It barely flinches.
It has appeared on a US news skit, been photographed keeping Tom Cruise dry and requested for movie stunts. It will be showcased in an upcoming Matt Damon and George Clooney flick and was the umbrella of choice at the Orlando PGA Golf Fair. Talks are under way for it to become the official umbrella of various sporting teams and a high-performance motor company too.
What these three hip Aucklanders have cleverly created is not just a premium product, but a brand. In the same way owners of iPods don’t call them mp3 players, people are talking about their Blunt, not their umbrella. It’s a highly functional fashion statement, sold in over one thousand stores across 26 countries with glowing reviews from the likes of the Wall Street Journal.
World domination aside, the guys want to see an end to the tens of millions of umbrellas that collapse with the slightest of gusts to end up clogging landfills each year. They are the only umbrella brand to insist every single product that comes off the production line is individually put through a quality control test. Not only is Blunt environmentally-friendly, it is ethically-manufactured too.
“When it came to manufacturing the Blunt, we chose the place that had the best facilities in the world,” says Scott Kington, Managing Director. “We went to China for their knowledge and have collectively learned a lot in the process. When you try to explain the differences to people they still think it’s just another umbrella but when you actually use it, it’s not. It’s beyond that.”
“It was engineered from the ground up,” says Josh Page, Global Brand Manager. “Every point of touch is an experience for the customer from the tactile feel of the handle to the way the push/pull runner clicks into place. It’s like closing the car door of an Audi. The longevity of the product isn’t just the fact that it’s so well-built, but it’s actually serviceable.”
“Our approach is old-school,” adds Greig. “We believe in designing something of quality that is made to last.”