Quality, Ethical, Fun Clothing for the Whole Family


A small, ethical, family-owned and operated company, based in the Wairarapa, Thunderpants produce New Zealand-made, quality, organic, durable clothing for the whole family, emblazoned with colourful and whimsical prints. Starting out designing and making underwear, their range now includes swimwear, kidswear, women’s and men’s clothing in fun prints, with garments that are designed to fit and built to last. With their mantra “work to live, not live to work”, the Thunderpants family work hard but also believe life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Here, they talk to The Natural Parent Magazine about the story behind Thunderpants and the challenges and breakthroughs they have faced along the way.

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business? 

We created Thunderpants to fill our personal needs for comfy, tough undies that could stand the rigours of life without creeping into places they shouldn’t, while at the same time amusing us with their good looks, bright colours and fun styling. Plus we wanted to create a New Zealand-made product.

The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?  

We set out with $30 each and a trip to the Levana factory shop to buy fabric. The first Thunderpants were hand made, hand printed and exhibited as art in Nelson, NZ in 1995. As a result, we got some requests to buy them and so a business was begun.

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?  

There have been a number of breakthroughs, including:

  • Finding great employees 
  • Sourcing organic cotton 
  • Being certified Fairtrade  
  • Sourcing local makers 
  • Being living wage accredited 
  • Finding suitable partners in the USA and the UK 

But the biggest breakthrough was when we stopped doing everything else and got back to our core product range, moving all sales to direct to the customer online. 

Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family? 

It’s kind of easy these days as we simplified everything, so we now can really apply our mantra of “work to live, not live to work”. 

We are only a small company with a small, dedicated team who have all been working together for a long time. We cover each other when necessary and then all go home for a wee lie down if it all gets too much.

Being online means we are not bound by shop hours, plus we have early birds and night owls so everyone works in a way that suits them. 

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