Creatively electric, milliner Philip Treacy and designers Jen Kelly, Orla Kiely, Louise Kennedy, JW Anderson, Paul Costelloe, and, more recently, Joanne Hynes have been heralded throughout the world. Their names are stocked in salubrious department stores from New York to Tokyo to Milan.
But our fashion triumphs don’t stop there. Ireland’s style scene is buzzing with the names of smaller, breakthrough designers, and Dublin, Cork and Belfast are the go-to places to bag a designer piece before they go international.
In Dublin, check out design collective Project 51 for up-and-coming names that you won’t find anywhere else. Nearby is the Powerscourt Townhouse, which hosts the Loft Market upstairs and The Design Centre, which has been a hub of our fashion talent for over 20 years. As well as stocking the big names such as John Rocha, it continues to nurture new designers including Aisling Duffy and Blathnaid McClean.
If you’re a fiend for vintage, fashion blogger Annmarie O’Connor has tips for Dublin: “Temple Bar has seen an injection of new talent with tenants Siopaella, 9 Crow and Fluorescent Elephant selling a covetable mixture of pre-loved designer and vintage fare.”
Vintage lovers will also fit right into Cork city, where Irish fashion from decades ago jostles for attention in boho stores such as Peacock and Ruby in the Market Place.
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In Belfast, the design scene is kicking off with top designer Una Rodden (favoured by Mischa Barton, Ruby Wax and Sharon Corr) sealing the city’s reputation.
Rodden’s design studio on Belfast’s Upper Arthur Street is where you’ll find her couture range, as well as emerging local designers. Need something to wear to the Galway Races, perhaps? Then milliner Gráinne Maher tops the lot with her bespoke hats, fascinators and tiaras from her home studio in Belfast’s Ravenhill.
But hang on, Irish fashion isn’t all about modern iconic designers. There are a few classics that lurk in our past that we’re definitely not prepared to let go of just yet.
Knitwear is a big deal in Ireland, but the ultimate knitwear piece has to be the Aran jumper: the classic, fisherman’s “water-resistant” winter warmer traditionally created using unscoured wool. They're super-warm because they needed to be: the Aran Islands in the days before central heating was not the cosiest place in the world. These days, you can find Aran jumpers in knitwear stores all over Ireland, but if you want to score one from the place that made it famous: jump on a ferry to the islands themselves.
Looking for a slightly more modern version? Try the Inis Meain knitwear company and Carraig Donn, both stocked in stores all over the island. Cosy? You bet.