Best fashion store 2015: Envoy of Belfast
An outstanding small boutique with a discerning following for its mix of international brands and lesser-known special finds
Hannah Hamill, Ruth Spence and Joanna McCreery, at Envoy of Belfast. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Best fashion store Envoy of Belfast Tucked away behind City Hall, this outstanding small boutique has a discerning following for its judicious mix of international brands and lesser-known special finds from all over the world. According to Irish Times fashion editor Deirdre McQuillan, it’s quite unique on the island of Ireland for its selection of international fashion and accessories.
Owner Ruth Spence is a Belfast native whose buying trips take her to New York, Paris, Milan, Japan and Lebanon, and whose customers, of all ages, come to see her latest discoveries. Spence has very clear ideas of what she likes. Rather than being trend-driven, everything is selected for its quality of design and fabric.
A student of English literature, Spence moved to Tokyo to teach English, where her love of Japanese clothing brands was ignited. Back home two years later, she was a ladieswear buyer for Bureau in Belfast before setting up on her own in 2007.
Envoy is stylishly presented but not intimidating. Cult Japanese clothing brands such as Toujours and Orslow sit alongside pieces from Dries Van Noten, Marni and Margaret Howell and the shop is the only stockist in Ireland of the Italian lightweight leather bags by Mansur Gavriel.
If the “distressed” shoes from Paul Harnden don’t catch your eye, the unusual embossed silver and pewter bracelets by Maria Rudman, made in Lapland, may tempt, as will the jewellery by Lebanese designer Rosa Maria. There are more than 30 brands in Envoy’s portfolio, which makes this little shop exceptional.
This very special place is a well-kept secret among those in the know, writes reader Ciara. “It’s probably time the rest of the world found out.”