Aoife McNamara has designs on ethical fashion


Aoife McNamara’s creations are displayed in a pop-up store that opens today in Kildare Village. Its collections will also be presented as part of the Creative Spot Goes Virtual, a digital space designed to support creative design talents from across Europe.

McNamara’s latest collection uses traditional fabrics such as Irish tweed and linen as well as innovative sustainable materials including PYRATEX, a fabric made from Atlantic seaweed. The collection is inspired by the Irish coastline and underwater images by photographer Ken O’Sullivan.

Alongside her latest collection, the Kildare Village pop-up will host key pieces from previous collections such as her She Means Business and Go To Girl tops, alongside the work of other Irish creatives including Ken O’Sullivan and the florist. Niamh McNamara. who happens to be the sister of the creator.

The highlight of the pop-up is season 6 – McNamara’s latest collection. It includes Irish tweed jackets by Tipperary weavers, John Hanly: two-piece suits, woolen coats and shirts that draw a perfect line between dressy and casual.

While her clothes appear young and contemporary, there is also a strong element of tradition inherent in what McNamara does. “The tradition is found in the fabrics I use,” she says. “I want to create modern and fun clothes – it’s clothes that use traditional materials but with a modern fit. It’s about being able to mix the modern and the traditional, because Ireland is embedded in everything I do, from my inspiration to working with Irish fabric suppliers.

Blue Irish wool shack (300 €)

The colors of this latest collection have been influenced by the work of Ken O’Sullivan, an underwater photographer, filmmaker and conservationist who readers will know from RTÉ One’s superb documentary series, Ireland’s Deep Atlantic. “A lot of my inspiration came from Ken’s work – his images are amazing. It was about rediscovering and celebrating the Irish coastline, ”explains McNamara.

“I also work a lot with Clean Coasts and An Taisce on beach cleanups around Clare, so part of my color inspiration comes from the brightly colored plastic I collected there – dolls, shoes, clothes – the stark contrast of the muted colors of the coast with the vivid pinks, oranges and blues of the plastic.

A graduate of the Limerick School of Art & Design who interned at Marc Jacobs, McNamara was scheduled to study for a master’s degree in sustainable design in Australia when the pandemic struck. She says the lockdown gave her time to review her creative processes and re-evaluate her approach to business.

“It all happened very quickly with my brand which is amazing and I am grateful for it. However, the lockdown meant I was able to bring things back to what I love to do – design, take inspiration from nature – it changed all my way in terms of how I wanted to run my business and where I wanted to run my business. wanted to execute it, ”she said.

Aoife McNamara: “I saw a gap in the affordable and sustainable clothing <a class=market.” title=”Aoife McNamara: “I saw a gap in the affordable and sustainable clothing market.” class=”card-img”/>
Aoife McNamara: “I saw a gap in the affordable and sustainable clothing market.

McNamara opened her shop in a gem thatched cottage in Adare, Co Limerick, last Christmas. She says opening a retail store has allowed her to experience another side of her business: “Meeting people in person, talking about clothes, finding out what they find interesting and what they could change in. a garment… the contact with customers is incredible, ”she says.

Likewise, she will be on hand to meet with clients during the pop-up at Kildare Village. “I think it’s really important for me to be there,” she said. “I’m at the forefront of the brand and everything I do. There is a natural fit between what I do and what is sold at Kildare Village, and Kildare Village customers really trust them in terms of the brands they present, so this is a great opportunity for me to meet new customers.

His ambition as a designer is to offer people transparent, regenerative and circular fashion. “For me, it’s about being a conscious consumer,” she says. “We’re not going to stop wearing clothes, but when you invest in key pieces from a brand like mine, you’re not only supporting the local economy and the individual designer, but you’re also buying clothes that will last.” a lifetime. . “

McNamara says buying more ethically and sustainably is about educating ourselves about the importance of these things. “A lot of people buy a $ 20 top but they don’t understand that the person who made it wasn’t paid properly, the fabrics will probably tear after a few months, and the product will probably end up in the last few months. dump. At Aoife McNamara, we try to be more than a fashion brand – we try to help our community understand what we do when we buy more sustainable clothing.

Top Summer Was Golden (275 €)
Top Summer Was Golden (275 €)

She admits that it’s not always easy for people to understand the work of a garment or keep abreast of the latest developments in sustainable materials. Her website does a good job of explaining her fabrics to customers, and she hopes to host various events at her cottage store on the themes of sustainability, wellness and personal care.

“It’s difficult. If I looked at other areas, I should educate myself as well. I think these are people who want to learn about sustainable fashion,” she says. saw a gap in the market for affordable and sustainable clothing It is not easy – there are huge costs involved in making clothes in Ireland but it is important to me that people can buy my clothes.

McNamara tends to produce his designs in limited numbers. “I like this element of exclusivity. Having a really special item that is only one of the twenty is important to me and my clients, ”she says. “A lot of them like to go shopping with me because they know they can go to an event and they won’t meet someone else wearing the same thing.”

Typical McNamara customers include trendy young women who shop for outfits for birthday parties and special occasions, as well as professional women looking for something a little different for the job. “I think it’s great that my clients stay with me as my brand evolves. I have clients who come to me for their 21st birthday outfits and then come back for graduation outfits… I hope these women will become clients for life.

She thinks people are excited to dress up again, but says the pandemic may have also given people the time and space to think a little more about where their clothes are coming from.

“More and more people want to know more about what goes into a garment and they realize that there should be more experience around buying a garment – than it is. something disposable. “

  • The Aoife McNamara pop-up store opens today in Kildare Village and lasts for two weeks. The designer’s women’s clothing collections will also be available online as part of the Creative Spot Goes Virtual – a digital space showcasing the work of 17 European designers powered by the Bicester Village Shopping Collection’s Virtual Shopping platform as part of the collection’s commitment to supporting creative talent in the design industry.
  • Kildare Village is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a nightlife until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

Other Irish labels to watch

Cultivated clothing

Grown Clothing costs the earth nothing – literally or figuratively. Their line of t-shirts and hoodies are made with materials such as organic cotton and recycled polyester blends. Their clothes are Fair Wear and Peta approved and they plant a native tree in Ireland for every garment sold. Current favorites include the ‘Plant Medicine’ and ‘We Wish you Water’ tops. grown up

FéRí: Upcycled fabric and animal corpses
FéRí: Upcycled fabric and animal corpses


FéRí is an Irish womenswear brand that designs jumpsuits, dresses, tops and more in a mix of organic, recycled and unsold fabrics. Current favorites include the ‘Ruthie’ quilted Irish linen top and reclaimed fabric patches.


After Afore After makes blouses, tops and skirts from recycled polyester – right down to the thread and labels – and buttons from biodegradable bioplastic. Their digital printing technique uses less water and energy than traditional printing methods. Favorite pieces from the current collection include the ‘Hope’ dress in purple.

Aoife: light and durable accessories
Aoife: light and durable accessories

Aoife lifestyle

Aoife Lifestyle is an Irish accessories brand that manufactures backpacks, evening bags and tote bags from materials such as reclaimed nylon Econyl®. Favorite pieces from the new collection include the cactus vegan leather pouches and lightweight phone pouches.

Filming credits

  • Model: Aine O’Gorman
  • Make-up: FMN Studio
  • Hair: ine Corley
  • Photographer: Hannah Greene
  • Shot on location at Studio 10, Wicklow St, Dublin 2.


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