It is one of Ireland’s most famous textiles, and, although long neglected by Irish designers, it is starting to enjoy a fashion renaissance in the north and south.
Hemp is also grown, harvested, and woven by Charlie and Helen Mallon at Co Tyrone. Pioneering the idea of making clothing closer to home with traditional materials and turning new life into heritage crafts are two companies: Kindred of Ireland, founded by Amy Anderson in Dungannon; and the Linen Shirt Company in Kilkenny, whose founder is Anneliese Duffy. The latter won the Best Product of the year award at Showcase.
Both companies, in their own way, show how linen in all its qualities can keep you cool – in every way. Historically, it made the names Sybil Connolly in the 1950s and Paul Costelloe in the 1970s; in the decades that followed, Mariad Whisker rose to prominence for her highly stylized style on this ancient fabric. Recently, Niamh O’Neill decided to use linen extensively in her spring/summer collection for the first time.
Anneliese Duffy’s linen shirt, sourced from Emblem Weavers in Wexford and McNutt in Donegal, is designed for men, women and children. Shirt stories for women include shirts with sharp pleats and distinctive collars and cuffs, a style that’s out of season in fabrics that improve with age. Some men’s shirts in casual suits have grandad collars, while the junior styles are simple with pearl button details on the front.
Duffy, whose family founded the business in 1972, grew up with a love of fabrics and began sewing industrial machines during school holidays. Later, after studying pattern cutting at the Grafton Academy, he completed a degree in Fashion and Textiles at NCAD, and gained valuable experience working with the talented craftsman Bill Gaytten, John Galliano’s right-hand man for many years.
He was excited to keep manufacturing in Ireland, investing in a new training program for sewing machine experts and passing on skills that would otherwise have been lost. “This is the only way we can protect this industry for future generations and help it grow to new heights,” he said. “We need to be more independent and impose levies on imports from the Far East.”
For Amy Anderson, a textile, art and design graduate from the University of Ulster whose romantic Irish linen gown has been featured in Vogue and Tatler, it’s a photo of her grandmother spinning yarn at Moygashel, and her family members working in the factory. , which fueled his desire to breathe new life into Irish linen.
The third generation of his family working with fabrics, he launched his company in 2018, selling online, and recently opened his first store in Belfast’s Smithfield Market area. The dresses are romantic, the jackets and coats in sparkling beetle linen are functional and stylish, and they are all responsibly sourced and handcrafted to order.
Like Duffy, she stresses the importance of maintaining sewing skills. After spending time in China as a volunteer with a design firm that employs trafficking survivors, she has partnered with anti-trafficking organization Flourish NI to help develop their Sew & Skills program for victims by donating 10 percent of its profits to help with their recovery. and independence. Find out more at kindredofireland.com