New York, London, Milan, Limerick? When it comes to fashion capitals, our Southwestern gem is usually not on the agenda. That’s not to say it’s not a competitor. Quite the contrary.
Its discreet profile belies a coveted trio of talent, taste and technicality. International designers, sustainable start-ups, luxury department stores, independent boutiques and a new guard of influencers are all raising the county’s profile as a creative hub. Looking for a new stylish destination? Better tune your Shannonside GPS.
Let’s start with the talent or its mother – Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD).
Known for its innovative BA (Hons) in fashion class and past designers like Joanne Hynes and Colin Horgan, Clare Street College has set the bar high for its students.
Undeterred by the altitude, two of its most recent graduates: Aoife McNamara, from Mungret, and Ejay Griffin from Annacrotty; who both took advantage of the LEO Enterprise Start-Up Course and established themselves on their own turf.
Launched in 2019, slow-fashion brand AOIFE Ireland (aoifeireland.com) is fast becoming the one to watch. Housed in a thatched-roof studio / studio on Adare’s main street, designer Aoife McNamara creates enduring collections inspired by the rugged beauty of Ireland. His mission ?
Give women clothes that matter and that last a lifetime of experiences. With dozens of #WearingAoife social media fans, the 25-year-old is on the right track (Vogue Williams and Roz Purcell are fans).
Guests can book a consultation at the chalet to browse the clothing line and selection of Irish art or shop online where each garment’s origin story is displayed, as well as full transparency on fabrics and suppliers and maintenance advice.
People-friendly and planet-friendly practices also underpin the eponymous and ‘consciously created’ women’s clothing brand (ejaygriffin.com).
Inspired by nature and its local environment, the clothes are ethically made from responsibly sourced fabrics, often end of line and dead products. The result? Each collection is unique and offers products based on supply and demand.
“As the brand continues to grow,” said the 36-year-old. “I look forward to working with more local manufacturers and expanding to support our community and their families. ”
In the meantime, for Fall / Winter 21, expect Irish wool from John Hanly’s factory in Nenagh as well as cotton poplin and corduroy.
Despite the small races; the brand’s ethics in terms of size make tailor-made an option for individual requests. Attractive.
From trendsetters to trendsetters, Limerick’s shopping scene is equally democratic in its appeal.
Located in the heart of the city: Brown Thomas luxury department store (brownthomas.com) continues to expand its offering of international ready-to-wear brands. Scandinavian names like Ganni, Remain and Samsøe Samsøe provide a new contemporary vibe while Totême and MaxMara curate essential styles that transcend the seasons.
For vintage enthusiasts, a visit to the Milk Market on Cornmarket Row is a must. Browse the floor-sweeping dresses and kimonos of Vito Vintage (vitovintage.fr) – handpicked by owner Caroline McBrearty.
Saturdays and Sundays, the Loft Antique (antiqueloft.fr) specializes in original vintage and antique jewelry, clothing, accessories, including 1940s pearls and retro tea dresses.
Further on, the award-winning Kimono boutique (kimono.fr) is celebrated with good reason. Located in Newcastle West and Charleville, the retail outlet offers an elegant selection of second-hand and casual clothing in a candle boudoir space.
With over 40 labels from Irish and international designers (think Herno, Sportmax and Castanea Cashmere), what appears to be heaps of choices are expertly curated across the floor and in owner Ailish Mullane’s popular Facebook videos, featuring drops of weekly products.
For spring summer 22? Look forward to Sara Roka’s collection of dresses and archaic Greek Kori kaftans and beach tunics in breathable linen, cotton and silk.
Want something new? In addition to housing brands like Ichi, Libra, Comma and Salsa jeans, the neighboring G boutique (thegboutique.fr) also has a delicious cafe-bar. Taste special ales from Old Barracks Coffee Roasters and delicious local homemade cakes, plus free in-store personal style from owner Siobhan Walsh.
From IRI to online, the southwest stands out thanks to a new generation of social media stars. Take Louise Cooney from Doororadoyle (@louisecooney_), arguably one of Ireland’s hottest fashion influencers with 213,000 Instagram followers.
Having worked with brands like Dior, Tommy Hilfiger, GUESS and H&M; Cooney’s style is accessible yet ambitious, which makes his buying advice so sought after.
“I love the dresses available to rent or buy from The Ivory Closet,” shares the 29-year-old.
“The Lily Store is a wonderful downtown boutique. Adare’s Aoife Ireland has the most beautiful designs. Catherine McCormack is another great place for second-hand outfits. Of course, there is the Crescent Mall: it’s very close to where I live and it was my second home growing up.
Although now based in Dublin, one of the former model’s favorite memories in Limerick has been watching Celia Holman Lee host fashion shows all over town.
“She’s been the best Limerick style advocate over the years, and I’ve learned so much from her,” says Cooney, who is launching a new CLOO Active clothing line this month.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of for as long as I can remember,” she admits, “but I decided in confinement to invest, spend time and make it happen. It’s scary, but life is short. We have to take risks on things we are passionate about.
Likewise, Kilmallock gal Niamh Webb O’Rourke (@niamhwebborourke) who treats her 32.2,000-strong Instagram fan base with colorful outfit posts and DIY renovation photos of her budget apartment.
As Digital Marketing and Human Resources Manager for Love Cherish Boutique in Charleville and Creative Manager for her first womenswear brand Oh, Molly, her work complements her passions.
“I’m very lucky with my job. I love being able to integrate it into my fashion content creation. They both work hand in hand, ”she explains.
Like Cooney, O’Rourke’s love for Limerick and the appeal of local girls (she enjoys shopping at Be Fabulous and The Edge) sets her apart on the heavily populated platform. Much like his penchant for furry bobs, contrasting prints, and killer Doc Marten boots, all effortlessly authentic.
Do you feel inspired? Join the queue. Limerick, we’re on our way. Don’t go anywhere.