Bill Urale & The Overstayer Clothing Company

2002- (label)

Slotting in between the release of his first and second King Kapisi albums, Bill Urale launched a clothing label, The Overstayer Clothing Company. It was available nationwide through the iconic New Zealand department store, Farmers, and also blitzed the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week. 

In 2019, two Overstayer garments were selected to be part of the New Zealand Fashion Museum exhibition, Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now. The garments were worn on a mannequin with tatau by Bill's sister, Vaimaila Urale. 

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Very proud moment indeed💯 Me & my very talented sister @vaimailaurale (Visual Artist/ pictured Bottom Right) teamed up for the @moanacurrents clothing exhibition at @te_uru_gallery in Titirangi this month ❤️❤️ My sis accessorised my Clothing Manakin by adding her Dope Art to it!❤️❤️❤️😍😍😍 15 years ago? Me @droo_g @geoffmuliaga Got together & created some Outfits for my clothing label “Overstayer Clothing”. Most peoples don’t know that my team created everything clothing wise other than 🧦 socks and underwear💯 Even had my own personalised sneakers 👟💯🙌🏽🙏🏽 Biggest thanks to @dorisdupont @nzfm @danahwa for putting on such a dope historic exhibition of AOTEAROA fashion!! You guys rule!! Check it out fam! Big ups @sammysalsastyle for the 📸 too!💯 Big Up all the other designers too! ❤️ #UraleClan #NZFashionHistory #FobDesingners #ShotDrew 🙌🏽 #ShotBigB #ShotMaila 😘 #MyBigSis #VeryProudIndeed #UraleCombo #Titirangi #teurugallery #Worktodo #FagamaloKids #SafuneKids #LefagaKids BigBig Up my fellow crew Overstayer Members @dj_raw_nz $ @ @thafeelstyle #Chooohhoooooooo #SaluteFam #Bill&MailaUrale XXX❤️XXX

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It was in 2002, two years after the release of his critically acclaimed debut album, Savage Thoughts, that Bill decided to start a fashion label. He decided to make the clothes he wanted to wear; clothes with street cred that fitted people of stature and substance like himself, and he wanted them to be affordable.  

Bill called his label The Overstayer Clothing Company, referring to the infamous dawn raids of the mid 1970s when the economic downturn made the once welcome Pacific Island workforce unwelcome. While there were many people from all over the world who overstayed their New Zealand visas or work permits, it was the Pacific Islanders who were targeted and subjected to police raids in their homes, often early in the morning. Both Dawn Raid (a music and t-shirt label established in 1999) and Overstayer are a tongue-in-cheek reminder of this dark era in our history. 

The Overstayer brand graphic was a shield with a crown and crossed microphones. Images © The Overstayer Clothing Company.

The Overstayer brand graphic was a shield with a crown and crossed microphones and the collections consisted of classic street-wear staples given the King Kapisi edge. Denims with a back pocket with woven mat print and a cotton drill shirt with Pacific inspired screen-printed overwritten with graffiti text, Overstayer. 

Pocket detail of Overstayer denim shorts from a photoshoot for Moana Currents in 2029. Photo by Mara Sommer, model Layla Dole.

Collections consisted of classic street-wear staples given the King Kapisi edge - denims with a back pocket in a woven mat print and a cotton drill shirt with Pacific inspired screen-printed motifs overwritten with graffiti. Bill worked with designer Drew Gregory to create the looks and samples for the Overstayer range. They approached Farmers to stock the label, wanting it to be readily available "for the people". Bill's musical credentials gave him his first in with the Farmers’ buyer who knew the music and style of King Kapisi. Although Bill admits he was surprised the department store was willing to stock the Overstayer range, the Farmers chief executive Nick Lowe said the decision didn't take long. "We look at many different opportunities and there was particular interest in this one because he had his own range of clothing ... it's unique, it has appeal." (New Zealand Herald, 23 April 2003).

Brent McCarthy, a preferred supplier to Farmers, partnered with Drew and Bill to help them manufacture and deliver the order on time and on price point. All the pieces in the collection were selling for under $90 when it arrived in store. Bill (aka King Kapisi) performed at Farmers department stores around New Zealand to help launch the range.

Later that year he also performed at two major fashion events - Style Pasifika and New Zealand Fashion Week. Providing the soundtrack to his fashion shows, Bill joined the models on the catwalk performing songs from his 2003 album 2nd Round Testament.

At Style Pasifika, Bill won the Westfield Style Pasifika Designer Award which gave him the opportunity to showcase his street label in the coveted international annual Air New Zealand Fashion Week in 2003. Fiona Hawtin wrote in the New Zealand Herald (21 October 2003): "Urale paired sleeveless hoodies printed with his shield of two crossed microphones with loose jeans. The pandanus woven back pocket was a hit, as was the men's tracksuit with a lava lava."

His repeat success at Style Pasifika in 2004 led to a second Fashion Week appearance. Bill showed male and female streetwear - a mix of basketball singlets, hooded jackets, cargo pants and boys' lava lavas in tweed and denim. He joined his models on the runway performing a couple of King Kapisi songs, much to the crowd's delight.

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In 2009 Bill opened The Plantation Store, a retail outlet in his home suburb of Blockhouse Bay where he combined his music and clothing ventures. Running the shop, he said, gave him the chance to meld two jobs into one. Eventually The Plantation Store was moved online and the design of Overstayer was moved to Bill's family home. 

Bill Urale wearing Overstayer. Image © King Kapisi.

Designing for Overstayer is just one of many of Bill's creative outlets, which include music, writing and directing. And just as important is his work with young people - the #ShareTheKnowledge hashtag appears regularly on his King Kapisi Instagram posts. Bill's experience in the New Zealand fashion industry is just one kete of knowledge that he is passing on to the next generation.

Text by Kelly Dix. Banner image of King Kapisi with his Overstayer Autumn/Winter 2004 collection in the Style Pasifika show during the L'oreal New Zealand Fashion Week held at Auckland's Town Hall, Monday. Photo by Dean Purcell/Getty Images.

Published October 2019.

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