5 Young & Sustainable Irish Designers You Need to Know 

–by Jayna Rohslau

London may be calling, but Dublin can’t answer the phone now. She’s going out tonight. In Europe, the idea of fashion on the Emerald Island may conjure up excess, fake tans that inadvertently transfer and the arched brows of Parisians who ‘could personally never.’ This dubious rhyme scheme is not to forget the haircuts, an offensive act inflicted on the heads of many an Irish man along with my eyes. The epitome of the fashion anti statement, in all honesty, I might find the strategic placement of sheep on the head preferable.

Despite the rain, rest assured that better hair days are here, likewise for fashion. If you stroll about the town or scroll the Internet, you will find Irish designers shining. Sustainability is a noted priority. To preserve natural beauty, these designers transcend the clouds our heads have been collectively buried in to practice environmental design practices. Fusing traditional handicrafts and drawing on history, defying past precedent to break into a new mutiny. Many newcomers are interested in recontextualizing lace, wool, and other fabrics to forge a new tradition. Some are even relatively affordable. Against expectations, some Irish sustainable designers are having their moment in the sun. 

Róisín Pierce

It’s classic me. Róisín Pierce is a quirky Dublin women’s wear designer who approaches the classics with respect and irreverence, possessing an appreciation for the history of the Irish design tradition without deferring to it. Speaking to Vogue, Pierce described her design process as drawing on generational knowledge. Working with her mother to craft intricate details such as the one in the 2023 collection, which was shown in Paris. Pierce, who intends to build on this legacy, shared, “We also taught girls in Ireland for the past year, every Sunday, how to make quatrefoil crochet so that these crafts can continue for new generations.” If that wasn’t enough for you, consider that Alexa Chung wore the designer to the Met Gala.

Rion Hannora

Rion Hannora is ready for the next chapter. Turning the page on her newest collection, the slow fashion designer from Cork casts wearable daydreams into your wardrobe. Her collection ‘Chapter 5’ is for the individual who intends to dress down and stay up late, the image of nonsensical refinement in t-shirts printed with corsets. It is easy enough to throw on that ensemble. Alternatively, try a trench coat with distressed bows layered over oversized jeans. We gather from these looks that this designer knows when to go out, when to stay in, and when to show up in a metallic corset (all the time).

The body is not the only exhibition space. Lately, the looks have also taken to the catwalk – the designer’s avant-garde and outlandish charisma was on full display at Copenhagen Fashion Week earlier this month as part of a St. Bridget’s Day celebration of Irish fashion designers. The designer also appeared at Trinity Fashion Society’s show, wearing wearable art worn by the art students, different prints capturing the unmistakable chaos inherent to finding yourself during your early years.

Laoise Carey

Your family’s latest heirloom just dropped. More accurately, Laoise Carey makes the attic contents into something you want to wear. Gathering materials for each collection from Irish flea markets and charity shops, the designer washes, cuts, and crafts them into luxurious garments instilled with vintage icon status. 

Printed with digital forest imagery, the Clara Forest Green Bias Dress is perfect if you want to pull up to a friend’s party but forgot to bring a gift. After all, why bring flowers when you’re gracing their presence with the entire forest. Other choice finds include a sheer floral dress made from repurposed net curtains and a wrap skirt made from a vintage tea towel if you’ve been craving the modern-day update to Scarlett O Hara’s curtain dress. Frankly, my dear, giving a damn, never looked this good.

Robyn Lynch

Although many fashion collections have been dedicated to ballet aesthetics, Irish dance has not received the same treatment. Until now. Irreverent menswear designer Robyn Lynch landed all the improper steps at London Fashion Week with her Fall/Winter 2024 collection, sending pulses racing at her February 24th show ‘A Tribute to Heritage, Innovation, and Sustainability.’ Nostalgia for the past doesn’t mean we need to follow its rhythm.

Lynch drew on the essence of Irish dance alongside her childhood memories to create a capsule collection in collaboration with C.P. Company. Infusing streetwear with subtle color blocking, Irish staples such as the cable knit found themselves transformed into a higher incarnation. The vibes were schoolboy-meets-space cadet, or perhaps ‘schoolboy finds himself host to a stylish visitor from another planet’ since getting the typical boy into vinyl trousers remains a far-flung proposition. Regardless, Lynch has brought an edge to the cable-knit sweater vest, an otherworldly feat. This fashion narrative is well worth following into the next orbit.

Aoife McNamara

As the first B Corp-certified Irish fashion brand, Aoife McNamara imparts luxurious ease and crystalline silhouettes that retain a sense of movement so you can look glamorous on the go. Whether you’re ready to picnic in style or want to channel a little boardwalk in the boardroom while gazing wistfully out the window, the Limerick designer has you covered. Either way, satin pinks and aquamarine are sure to spark joy. Dressing in one’s natural element has seldom been so fun. 

On a higher level, the brand achieved a remarkable 94.4 points in the B Corp sustainability assessment. That means these sky-bright garments carry a sustainability guarantee. Moving beyond local partnerships, McNamara plans to raise the score, recently attending the Ganni Future Talent Fabric expo, which targeted designers who focus on sustainability to the extent of not partaking in fashion week. Drawing on Irish landscapes, the designer quoted Heaney’s ‘Postscript’ a fitting poem, considering her pieces certainly “catch the heart off guard and blow it open.” 

Sustainability is not a novel concept, but these Irish designers are writing a new script. Whether storming recent fashion weeks or sourcing old garments to reinvent the classics, rest assured that if you obtain one of these pieces, everyone will want to borrow it with no intention of returning. Forget transcending the past. These designers are determined to wear it on the global stage.

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