From May 15 - 17, 10 supremely talented Irish designers will have the chance to share their work and visions with the New York fashion world at the WearingIrish showcase in New York City.
How do you tell the story of contemporary Irish fashion on an international stage? It’s a question that Margaret Molloy, the Irish born and raised Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale in New York, set out to answer in 2016 when she launched the #WearingIrish social media campaign.
For the entire month of March, Molloy, who won the 2018 IrishCentral Creativity & Arts award in Fashion and design, wore clothing and accessories by Irish designers and shared photos every day, calling out the designers and their brands. In 2017, the impact was even stronger, with many others joining Molloy in celebrating Irish fashion. Now, in 2018, what started as an online initiative is getting a real-world event.
The WearingIrish showcase will take place in New York City, May 15 - 17 at the Bank of Ireland startlab near Grand Central Station. Over 170 designers from all over Ireland applied for 10 coveted spots to participate, and the lucky winners will be presenting their work and their creative and entrepreneurial visions to an impressive intersection of the New York fashion, business, and Irish communities.
The winning designers are Áine, Alison Conneely, Bláithin Ellis, De Bruir, Inner Island, Jennifer Rothwell, Natalie B. Coleman, Sands and Hall, The Tweed Project, and Triona.
Ahead of next week’s events, we chatted with Margaret Molloy about her vision for WearingIrish and some of the showcase’s supporters about the importance of raising up Irish fashion and design.
IC: How did you initially become interested in Irish fashion and design?
MM: As a marketer, I am captivated by stories. And as a brand marketer, I’m very aware of the power of visual identity. Specifically, what you wear is the first image in your story. I speak at a lot of events and for the past few years I’ve been choosing Irish designs to set myself apart.
#meetthemaker I chat w/ Designer, Anne Behan, @aineknitwear1 in the lead up to #WearingIrish NYC 2018 https://t.co/znKAzkcHE6 Eager to meet Anne and the 9 designers on their visit in May? DM me w/ your email to be considered for invitation. Limited spaces. @MargaretMolloy pic.twitter.com/OR4RXAwUIe— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) April 23, 2018
Through the process of selecting outfits for myself, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Ireland has a thriving indigenous fashion culture. WearingIrish was inspired by the desire to tell the world the untold story of Irish fashion and the makers behind it.
In our #meetthemaker series I interview Jewelry Designer @BlaithinEnnis in the lead up to #wearingirish NYC May 2018 program. In fashion? Eager to meet Blaithin and the 9 other designers on their visit to NYC? Message me with your email https://t.co/conLvwyS8X pic.twitter.com/C18aWliCtG— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) April 19, 2018
You’ve said that WearingIrish is not just about clothing. What do you mean by that?
Promoting Ireland’s fashion designers is a tangible way to demonstrate Ireland’s creativity and, when we promote Ireland as a nation of makers, every designer, every Irish business and every Irish person is a winner.
I catch up with Irish designer @debruir in advance of #WearingIrish NYC 2018. We talk heritage, place, style and more. https://t.co/t7aeYuayLR— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) April 18, 2018
Meet Garvan and 9 other Winning designers in NYC May 16-17. DM with your email to be considered for invitation. Limited spots. pic.twitter.com/jrnIHsd2NR
What spurred you on to expand the social media based #WearingIrish initiative into an in-person event/opportunity for the designers?
The WearingIrish NYC 2018 live event program builds on the successful #WearingIrish social media campaign started in 2016. The feedback I got from that campaign is that there was significant appetite among friends and associates in New York to experience the clothing and accessories firsthand. The artful creations of these designers are so powerful in person; it was clear to me that people needed to see the pieces for themselves to propel them from being social media fans to actual customers. My view is that while face-to-face engagement is dwindling, it is empathy that unlocks so much capacity and creativity. The live salons provide moments to build that bi-directional empathy—the benefits of which will endure long past May 2018.
At the core of WearingIrish is the concept of shining a spotlight on Ireland’s design talent—not limited to any one designer—therefore, I was keen to bring a cohort that collectively represents Ireland’s world-class fashion design capabilities.
What does success look like for you with WearingIrish?
WearingIrish is all about building reputation and igniting a conversation in NYC and in Ireland about Irish fashion. A corollary of this is igniting social consciousness around Ireland’s fashion sector.
NEW #meetthemaker series. I interview Designer @jrothwelldesign in the run up to #wearingirish NYC May 2018 program (#linkinbio). We talk design inspo, style tips, Ireland and more https://t.co/I717KPdMGW pic.twitter.com/6XGSTLKrDr— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) April 12, 2018
In the short-term, success will be producing a high-impact salon-style event program in May, during which the selected 10 designers forge lasting connections and glean valuable insights to inform their collections and market positioning. It is my hope that hundreds of our guests will have a powerful experience during the program, that they will add the stories and creations of Irish designers to their repertoires and, perhaps, to their wardrobes.
#meetthemaker I chat w/ Designer @InnerIsland in the lead up to #WearingIrish NYC 2018 https://t.co/znKAzkcHE6 Eager to meet Gemma and the 9 other designers on their visit to NYC in May? DM with email to be considered for invitation. pic.twitter.com/S0YklFx8k6— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) April 21, 2018
In the medium-term, success will be measured by enhanced awareness of Ireland’s fashion capabilities across the board. Perhaps one of the 10 designers—or other Irish designers on WearingIrish.com—gets stocked by an outlet in NYC.
Long-term success will mean Ireland takes its rightful place on the map and develops a reputation as a preeminent producer of world-class clothing and accessories.
Are there plans for further expansion?
I am very ambitious for WearingIrish. I am percolating ideas for further programs to promote WearingIrish and I’ve been approached by many groups in Ireland, the U.S. and beyond to initiate collaborations. I encourage those who are interested to follow us on twitter to stay tuned.
I’d like to express gratitude to the many people and organizations who have contributed their resources to help execute the WearingIrish 2018 NYC program. Partners supporting the May program include Bank of Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through Ireland’s Consulate in New York, Tourism Ireland, CIE Tours, Invest Northern Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Northern Ireland Bureau.
Why is WearingIrish important? Supporters weigh in
Minister @ciarancannon attends launch of #WearingIrish NYC 2018 with BOI's Tony Dunne @dunneton and creator @MargaretMolloy supported by @BOIstartups in association with @CIETours @TourismIreland @IrelandinNY @entirl visit https://t.co/BzmFjMM0Ik for more info #NYFW18 pic.twitter.com/lkF6gA0DTQ— BOI Corporate (@BOIcorporate) February 13, 2018
Tony Dunne, US Country Manager at Bank of Ireland said: "We are delighted to be hosting WearingIrish NYC 2018 at our startlab offices, and welcoming these 10 fantastic designers to New York. Mentoring up-and-coming business and helping our customers to grow their businesses is very important to us at Bank of Ireland. We are looking forward to working with the group to help them to navigate their way through the US market and opening as many doors for them as possible whilst spreading the story of Irish design far and wide."
“I appreciate the creative accessories that Irish designers offer to liven up any outfit–sleeves, collars, scarves, hats, and so many more–discovered via #WearingIrish! ” ELIZABETH CRABILL, CEO, CIE Tours Intl @ElizNYC3 @cietours in conversation w/ @MargaretMolloy pic.twitter.com/D7MYXX8i58— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) April 4, 2018
"CIE Tours is delighted to support the talent and vision of the WearingIrish movement and these winning designers who exemplify the contemporary creativity of Ireland. As the largest Irish-owned travel company in the US, we are the leader in showing North American travelers the most authentic aspects of Ireland. Nothing is more authentic and exemplary of the Ireland of today than these WearingIrish winners’ talent and energy for blending Irish heritage and modern design, creating an exciting sense of place within a contemporary, accessible fashion context."
“Irish designers from both parts of the island have made their mark on the international fashion scene through their innovative designs and craftsmanship.” @NI_Bureau and @InvestNI are delighted to support #WearingIrish –NORMAN HOUSTON, Director, The Northern Ireland Bureau pic.twitter.com/YVDeIYu2rF— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) May 10, 2018
“The Northern Ireland Bureau and InvestNI are delighted to support “Wearing Irish”. Irish designers from both parts of the island have made their mark on the international fashion scene through their innovative designs and craftsmanship. Whether it’s the High Street or haute couture, there’s one sure thing, Belfast and Dublin can compete with Paris or Milan. We wish all the participants every success in this competitive and exciting business."
Last week @PresidentIRL Michael D. Higgins was introduced to the creator of @Wearing_Irish @MargaretMolloy to discuss the profound influence the initiative is having. As part of #wearingirish @Entirl will be sponsoring ten Irish designers to showcase in NYC on May 15th-17th. pic.twitter.com/iYNExzB0W9— EI theUSA (@EI_theUSA) April 30, 2018
"The missions of Enterprise Ireland and WearingIrish are very much aligned, so it was an easy decision to get involved! Enterprise Ireland supports Irish businesses to scale and grow internationally and to showcase Irish innovation on a global stage. WearingIrish is a fantastic initiative bringing the story of contemporary Irish fashion to the United States, and providing a platform for 10 Irish designers to connect with influential people in New York and grow awareness of their brands in the United States. On a personal level, I have followed the #WearingIrish movement on social media for years and was eager to get involved with this ambitious project.
“The #WearingIrish initiative inspires me as it gives a platform and outlet to forward thinking and innovative Irish designers, and showcases the creativity of Irish fashion and design in the U.S."— @catieriordan1 and @entirl in convo w/ @MargaretMolloy pic.twitter.com/KhLpBKLkan— WearingIrish (@Wearing_Irish) March 26, 2018
"The WearingIrish team, led by Margaret, have built a compelling brand and story around WearingIrish, which has attracted interest from incredibly influential people in New York and beyond. This is the first time that there has been a movement of this scale around contemporary Irish fashion in the United States, and I think a powerful community has been formed around WearingIrish, which will transcend the events in New York in May. There are many incredible Irish fashion designers, and I think it is very important for their work to be showcased and celebrated." - Catie Riordan, Enterprise Ireland
"Our mission at the Consulate is to serve and support the Global Irish in the Greater New York region and to work to deepen and strengthen every strand of the relationship across the Atlantic.
"Identifying opportunities to showcase the best of Ireland in New York are key to that mission; from Irish innovation in the tech and pharmaceutical worlds, to Ireland’s distinctive voice on the cultural stage; and in this case, Irish creativity through fashion and design. We are proud to be an early and firm supporter of WearingIrish and by extension, the designers chosen, who visited our Dublin HQ at historic Iveagh House last week for a farewell event.
"Not only does WearingIrish offer a supportive platform to 10 of Ireland’s leading designers, connecting them to the Global Irish and other key influencers, it showcases Ireland’s creativity in New York, a global center for fashion and design, in a new and innovative way. We believe that the designers coming to New York will benefit from the strong programme of engagement curated by Margaret Molloy with Bank of Ireland and supporters both in the short and the longer term."
Do you love Irish fashion and design? Share your looks on social media with #WearingIrish