Tweed, but not as we know it

The Tweed Projects aims to take the classic Irish fabric beyond the Quiet Man look, says Deirdre McQuillan

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 01:00

‘Today more than ever we need to buy Irish,”

says Aoibheann MacNamara, the firebrand behind Ard Bia, Galway’s funky restaurant and gallery at Nimmos which has just launched another innovative venture. This time it is in fashion and it is called the Tweed Project.

A collaboration between MacNamara and well-known Galway stylist Triona Lillis of Astor vintage, it is a small clothing range in tweed and linen designed and made in Ireland and motivated, they say, by international interest in contemporary Irish culture.

MacNamara is from Ardara, a heritage town in Donegal famous for its tweed and knitwear.

The tweed in the collection is made by Molloys outside the town, whose name has been associated with weaving for more than five generations. The linen is from McNutts in Donegal, another company associated with quality linens and tweed for over half a century.

MacNamara and Lillis headed to Ardara in February to start work with the Molloys on the blanket tweeds and they are hoping to develop further lighter weights.

This modest collection comprises just seven items in basic shapes – a dashing and colourful blanket coat, grey tweed trousers and shorts, two types of white linen shirt, a linen T-shirt and a leather strapped tweed tote lined with linen. Prices start at €65 for the bag up to €240 for long trousers.

The Tweed Project made its debut at the Drop Everything cultural festival on Inis Óir in May and already five to six of the blanket coats are selling every week in Nimmos. Given that blanket coats are a key winter trend and feature prominently in collections from Burberry to The Row, the style was inspired.

MacNamara is about to renovate an old carpenter’s warehouse in Galway where one of the outhouses will become the design and production headquarters of the Tweed Project. In October she heads to Berlin to develop further ideas with Starstyling, an arty streetwear shop and brand, on a collection using foil on tweed.

It is an ambitious project “and you are fighting against the Quiet Man look”, she adds. Given her drive, energy and commitment, it is one that may well succeed – even if thoughts do not necessarily turn to tweed on hot days in July. Further information from ardbia@gmail. com and thetweedproject.com

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