This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Paula Ryan clothing brand, a label which is synonymous with New Zealand and Australian women.

Magpie Style's Bridget Hope talks to Paula about her successful career and shares her secrets to style confidence.

Pictured: Paula working behind the scenes on the Summer '18 collections shoot.

Q: After 20 years at the helm of Paula Ryan clothing, what is the most important thing you have learnt about women and clothing?

A: Most women enjoy shopping, trying on clothes and creating a look. On the whole, they like valued advice and prefer to shop where this is available. They do not always understand the mantra of ‘cost per wear’ so bargains can be a magnet only to later discover they have ‘mistake’ purchases in their wardrobe.


Q: What was the first garment you ever designed?

A: In 1998, working with the original Lane Walker family in Christchurch, I designed the high polo neck slim fit top in New Zealand Merino, because I wanted to hide my neck.

Pictured above: PAULA RYAN ESSENTIALS Slim Fit Polo Neck Top, $250.

Q: What is special about the Paula Ryan brand?

A: The Paula Ryan brand 'stretch', even in our footwear. Fabrics are key and all the main four fabrics are all jersey knits, developed through a collaboration of science working alongside nature. Our two main fabrics are developed using natural fibers.

Pictured above: Paula Ryan Nice Boots


Q: What inspires you now?

A: Tomorrow, and looking at social media along with the changing habits and needs of woman. How women live totally consumers me in creating the shapes. Art and nature inspires me for colour.

Pictured above: Light fabrics in brighter tones run through the latest Relaxed Winter 18 collection. The long sleeve Overshirt is perfect for layering, and great for travel to summer spots during winter (in store late April).


Q: What's the best piece of advice you have ever taken in business?

A: Look at the four P's: Plan, People (hire the best), Perseverance, and Passion (Truly believe in your project).


Q: What's the best advice you've ever given? 

A: Read Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grown Rich. It outlines how we create our own successes and failures and as we grow successful, there is a point when we receive more pleasure from - giving back. The Gates with Warren Buffet are extreme versions of this.

'Think and Grow Rich' available at Paper Plus. Link below


Q: What's your number one tip for women?

A: Enjoy dressing with style as it should be a reflection of your personality. Dress for your body and not your age. Age is just a number.


Q: Does size matter when it comes to clothes?

A: Your size has no connection to style however the best quality fabrics create the best clothes. There are no shortcuts. When women size 14 or over wear fast fashion (ie. clothing in cheap fabrics) the look will never be stylish. For us, with our jersey knits, our mantra is 'the magic is in the fabric'. It's all about the fabric quality. 


A: What makes Canterbury women unique in their dressing?

A: Twenty years ago, in February 1998, when we sold our first collection, which consisted of just four black merino tops, it was to Quinns in Merivale who was the first to buy, followed by Ballantynes. Both companies said "these are perfect for Canterbury women, because women here appreciate quality". Now, twenty years on, we still have a strong following in Canterbury and Christchurch city because of this, which makes me proud to be a sheep farmer's daughter from Canterbury.


Q: Who are your favourite women and why?

A: I admire women who inspire others, Donna Karen, her big personality and understanding of how jersey knits can flatter all women, Jane Fonda and her own stunning body at 80 through daily exercise, Coco Chanel and her pioneering fashion skills. She made stunning clothes that were comfortable in an era of laced up corsetry.



 Pictured above, Bridget and Paula


Interview by Bridget Hope, first published by Metropol March 2018.
















Always outstanding ladies! The quality of the fabric and the cut is always a winner for me. So thank you for being the best in my wardrobe.

— Rosanna Cathro