While we are more accustomed to see the demise of some of our favourite high street stores during this difficult economic climate. There are some emerging Irish brands which are using the recession to their advantage.
With Electronic sheep showing at London Fashion week, pop up stores, cafés in shops and the wave of new vintage stores popping up across Ireland. It seems we have have changed as consumers.
Gone are the days that shopping was simply a case of popping into Topshop to get an outfit for the weekend, we are now looking for new and exciting designs. Brands that stand the test of time rather then the test of Saturday night.
We are all familiar with the big names in Irish fashion, Louise Kennedy and John Rocha, but there is a fantastic wave of new fashion designers which has inspired the new generation of shoppers.
It began with the growth in vintage. Established stores like Wild Child and Lucy’s Lounge sat amongst the newer lines such as Turquoise Flamingo in Cork and Public Romance in Galway.
Turquoise Flamingo moved into Cork at the end of 2010. It was set up after the demise of two of Cork’s best loved vintage stores. While rents are high and the economy difficult for fashion lovers, Turquoise Flamingo provides a selection of high quality vintage at reasonable prices. They choose pieces from the 1950’s to the 1980’s with care and attention.
While there are similar shops popping up all over Ireland, it is worth noting Public romance in Galway. Selling vintage and reworked clothing, the store is one of three based in Paris and London. The store can be found on Abbeygate street.
But if you’re truly looking for a different shopping experience, Dolls boutique on Emorville Avenue in Dublin 8 is worth the leisurely stroll there and back. Bursting with new and exciting labels, the store also has a charming café complete with tables and chairs outside. Perfect after a hard days shopping. Not to mention relaxing in the quiet area in the sun. Dolls boutique has two stores; the other is based in the Westbury mall on Claredon Street.
There has been a growth in popularity of pop up stores too. Blondies love Vintage. An occasional pop up store in Pygmallion in Dublin have been known to clear rails in a day. Selling a selection of vintage and trend inspired pieces. But the biggest vintage event has to be the monthly flea market. Taking place in the co op in Newmarket, Dublin 8. The market attracts the usual crowd of vintage collectors, hipsters and bloggers. But it’s the selection of jewellery, clothing, shoes and bags which keep people returning.
It’s not just vintage that has experienced a boom in these difficult times. Irish shoppers are moving away from the high street disposable clothing that boomed during the 90’s. We are now searching harder for our clothes and ensuring that they stand the test of time. And as recessions breed creativity, Irish vintage and design is thriving.
But it seems it is not just the Irish who can’t get enough of Irish design. Irish high street store A wear moved into the UK this year and has become a glossy magazine faveourite. It was joined by Fran and Jane, who opened a large store in London this summer. Much to the delight of fashionistas looking for red carpet style frocks.
However it was the inclusion of Electronic sheep, an Irish company who specialize in uniquely printed scarves in London fashion week that really made a statement.
Electronic sheep are Brenda Ahern and Helen Delaney. Both are former National College of Art and Design in Dublin graduates who established their brand in 1999 to provide their trademark jumbo scarves. Over the years Electronic sheep have gathered a following amongst London’s young hipster set and where they go, the press follow. Once featured in a wave of publications including Grazia and The Sunday Times, to name a few. The time seemed right for a move into the biggest fashion event in the fashion calender – London Fashion Week.
It was not just Electronic sheep that moved into London fashion week. Prehaps one of Ireland’s best fashion success stories also moved into LFW this year, Una Burke. Burke, a former graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design was barely out of her masters course when Lady Gaga commissioned her to make pieces for her Monster ball tour. Buying eight pieces of the collection and providing Burke with a wealth of free press.
Although Burke describes her work as art rather then clothing, it is easy to see what attracted Gaga to the designs. Rooted in bondage, the designer used traditional leatherworking techniques to produce pieces which restrict the body. Crisscrossing leather straps encase the body into the piece with high collars. Reminding the viewer of straight jackets. Inspired by trauma to the human body. It is not surpring Gaga is a fan.
But it’s not just Lady Gaga who have recognised the talents of Una. Dazed and Confused have shot several of her pieces, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas have requested to wear a corset and she was named one of the top 140 to watch by Vogue Italia.
With colleges like Griffith, National College of art and design and Limerick school of art and design producing a wealth of new talent onto the market each year there has never been a better time for the growth of Irish design. It can be hard to see the positive side of reports of slow growth in the retail sector, stores closing or the recent revelation that established brands such American Apparel’s sales have fallen by 14% in 2010. It is great to see the long over due changes to how we shop and how we wear our purchases. It forces us to work harder and and choose with care.
Long may it continue….