No agencies, no models: Working Style’s daring DIY campaign

Working Style is experiencing a lot of success with its savvy new advertising campaign ‘They’re Wearing Our Gear Here’. Its latest print ad came third in the January/February round of prestigious Glossies, beating some of the country’s top agencies. You would expect a campaign like this to come from a top creative advertising, but Working Style is bucking the trend with this one. Warning: the following material could make agencies very, very afraid.

The campaign is totally owned and driven from within Working Style, largely by Chris Dobbs. The risky, and somewhat rare, idea has been an organic process of development with many staff, not to mention family, involved. Photographer Mark Smith, graphic designer Nicola Croft and stylist and art director Ally Rodwell are just a few of those who helped collaborate on the creative idea, styling the shoots, sourcing talent, and writing the copy. Actually Dobbs’s wife Penny wrote the copy.

Then it gets really crazy. Instead of using fashion models in the campaign, Working Style has opted to feature real people. The campaign centres around New Zealand men who are making their mark in their chosen industry overseas – whilst wearing Working Style, naturally. The established menswear brand takes its inspiration from quiet, unaffected achievers and the men featured in the advertisements further cement this brand value.

“It has been a fantastic project to be a part of – we have been to some interesting places and I’ve loved working with these guys in their environments, doing things they love but with a real connection to home still,” says Rodwell, who styled the shoots.

“People have really noticed it and have been nothing but positive.”

The campaign confirms Working Style’s reach across the globe, so far featuring:

  • Rene Vaile. Photographer, shot at Bronte Beach, Sydney.
  • Leighton Norman. Manager of Institutional and Corporate FX Sales Commonwealth Bank, shot at Bourke St, Melbourne.
  • Isha Walsh. Curator, shot at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.
  • Campbell Smith. Shot at The El Ray Theatre, Los Angeles.

With plans to travel to London for shoots in August this year, the campaign shows no signs of slowing down in celebrating the achievement of New Zealanders overseas. The imagery brings an international sartorial flavour to the retailer’s advertisements whilst still retaining the Working Style ‘feel’.


Chris Dobbs, creative director
Penny Dobbs, copy writer
Ally Rodwell, designer, stylist & art director
Mark Smith, photographer
Nicola Croft, graphic deisgner

So far the campaign has appeared in Metro, Art & Object, Denizen, Pilot, Ponsonby News, KiaOra (Air NZ), North & South, NBR, M2, and NZ Weddings.

(The title of the tapestry art hanging behind Isha Walsh is Sundowner by artist Pae White, in case you were wondering, with Ally Rodwell the ghostly figure in between it and Isha Walsh)

It is a good feeling when Isha Welsh gets dressed for work. He is a little closer to home. Auckland born and bred, Welsh was hand picked to run one of LA’s most prestigious Contemporary Art Galleries; 1301PE, on Wilshire Boulevard. His career foundations were laid as a child. Welsh grew up surrounded by art. He absorbed it. His enthusiasm and curiosity culminating in an MA in Art History from Auckland University. Fine judgment, integrity, and a sincere focus on the artist saw Welsh develop trusted relationships with NZ art legends such as Ralph Hotere, Julian Dashper and John Reynolds. Now, his role of International Art dealer is high profile and greatly coveted – no small achievement. In Hollywood the world is watching and Welsh is living his dream. A genuine wealth of knowledge, passion, and commitment to the Artist is paramount to success and dealing in art worth millions of dollars is an intense business. The hours are long, with exhibitions and work related functions often going well into the night. The clients are well schooled, extremely wealthy, and their expectations are high. Any downtime Isha can grab is spent in the surf. With Malibu approximately the same distance from Hollywood that Piha is from Auckland, it is just like being home……sort of. To cope with such a fast paced scene, a man is only as good as his clothes. Isha’s wardrobe must be versatile, sophisticated and of the international quality that the job demands. For this cultured, unassuming achiever with impeccable taste, it is New Zealand’s Working Style he wears with pride.



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