Canterbury Leather International (CLI) was founded in 1974 by Doug & Gill Price, and originally focused on manufacture and export of sheepskin footwear, garments and accessories. The business manufactured its own brand (Homestead) as well a “private label” contract manufacturing.
From the late 1970’s CLI evolved to be primarily a manufacturer of sheepskin garments and this continued up until the early 1990’s. Garments were high value items and highly sought after around the world. Production of garments peaked in the mid 1980’s, at around 60 items per day and were primarily exported. This market changed steadily during the late 1980’s as first the Turkish, then Korean and finally Chinese manufacturers moved into the manufacture of sheepskin garments. However demand was still strong for high priced, premium end, New Zealand manufactured garments, particularly with the Asian tourists to Australia and New Zealand. Once the Asian crisis hit in the early 1990’s demand for these garments dried up almost overnight.
By the time the Asian Crisis hit CLI they were already well down the road to diversifying the product range of the company. During the 1980’s whilst exhibiting at Trade Fairs in Las Vegas an alliance was formed between Canterbury Leather International and Brian Smith, the original founder of UGG Holdings, and the UGG Australia brand. This initial contact led to the development of the UGG supply relationship which continued strongly even after the Deckers purchase of UGG Holdings in 1995.
Deckers were originally manufacturers with plants in the USA; Costa Rico and Mexico, but as their sales grew they have increasingly focused on the design, sales and distribution functions, and outsourced most manufacturing to China, whilst the manufacture of high-end UGG product remained in New Zealand.
During the early 2000’s CLI received “Supplier of the Year” awards for four consecutive years, from 2000 to 2003. The factory was responsible for manufacturing may of the pairs of Ugg Australia boots that were given to celebrities for endorsement. Many people in the business still remember the 40 or so pairs that were custom made for Oprah and her team. In 2005 Ugg Australia really took off in the USA and production demand was huge on CLI. Doug Price and some of the CLI team members went to China with Deckers to help train up some of the Chinese footwear factories to help meet the growing demand.
In early 2009 Ian Hunter purchased Canterbury Leather International from Doug and Gill Price who after almost 35 years in the business has decided to retire. Since purchasing the business it has been focused its long term sustainability by building its own brands and on bringing innovative new sheepskin styles to its world wide customers.
In 2010 a premium and prestigious new heritage brand was launched. Dominion is a unique brand of handcrafted sheepskin apparel, footwear and accessories that delivers the encompassing, enduring luxury of sheepskin, by carefully melding fashion and function. Launched in Milan, Italy in March 2010, Dominion is now internationally distributed in Europe, Korea, Japan, Russia and the USA.
In late 2011 we partnered up with the New Zealand Nature company to offer a unique “design your own sheepskin boot” offering called www.designaboot.com.
Also in late 2011 we produced our last UGG Australia® container of boots to be sent to the USA as Deckers finally moved production to China.
We are now focused on production, marketing and sales of our own brands and contract manufacture of some niche sheepskin brands distributed around the world.