Love story: what are your favourite items of clothing?
Fashion: Campaign wants you to fall in love with your clothes again
Back row from left, Steve Reddy, Mary Nally, Halle Steele and Freddie Mehigan. Front from left, Jill Burke and Joan Murray. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Next week is Fashion Revolution Week, the global movement with teams in over 100 countries campaigning for greater transparency in fashion and calling on brands to answer the question, Who made my clothes? This year’s campaign #lovestory calls on people to fall in love again with an item of clothing in their wardrobe that has emotional value for whatever reason instead of buying something new. We asked six people of varying ages, men and women, to tell us their stories of clothes that mean something special to them.
Halle Steele is a third-year schoolgirl at Alexander College. “Mum – the designer Helen Steele – designed this dress for her first collection, a collaboration with Joanne Hynes in London Fashion Week for autumn/winter 2011. It is digitally printed in cotton/silk from an artwork piece featuring Fallopian tubes. Mum wore it first and then I stole it from her wardrobe. It has been worn by Saoirse Ronan and when my older sister wore it to the Trinity Ball, it came back in ribbons. I wore it to London Fashion Week in 2015 when Mum was showing at the exhibition of Irish fashion called Unfold and I also wore it to the movie premiere of Brooklyn and Kerry Fashion Week. I love the colours and that it fits all sizes because me and my mum and sister are all different shapes and it is kind of timeless. I look at what I wore in 2011 and I cringe, but this never dates and it is so cool. I wore it twice last year to the VIP Awards and to my sister’s 21st.”
Steve Reddy, DJ, plays in House in Leeson Street every Saturday, mostly electronic music and also books bands for the Castlepalooza Irish music festival in Tullamore. He has a popular Instagram account – @themustymile – about charity shops and bargain finds and covers the area from Dorset Street, to Capel Street, Georges Street, Camden Street and Rathmines, over 20 shops. His nose for finds includes a stylish black jacket with silk lining bought for €10 and he paid another €10 to have it tailored “and I often do that”, he says.
“I played in bands for years and always love finding stuff that others didn’t have. I don’t look at the high street – because by going to charity shops you are giving to charity and that is important for me. I also buy things for other people if I see things they might like. I am wearing an embroidered waistcoat by Strength of London that was originally navy – and I don’t wear navy as I prefer black – which I bought at the Irish Cancer Society in Rathmines for €5. I then dyed it myself with Dylon and the embroidery came out in green and red. The shirt is by Moschino which I got at Oxfam on St Gt Georges Street for €4. I will often replace buttons that I don’t like with ones I buy in Trimmings on Capel Street; it’s a way of personalising things. The silver buckle belt I am wearing I bought in the Ilac Centre when I was 15 and I love it. I hang on to things I love.”
Jill De Burca is an award-winning fashion designer well known for her hand embroideries and embellished garments. “This was originally a high-necked vintage dress with long sleeves that I made into a skirt so I could wear it more. I fell in love with the print which is really beautiful and I bought it in Manhattan from a vintage store on a college trip in my second year for about $150. I don’t wear it much because it is so striking but I do bring it out once or twice a year and I love it. It’s not something you could wear every day and had no label, but it was handmade and the print looks like a Marimekko (the Finnish brand famous for its prints) print from the 70s. I will never part with it. I wear it with a vest and a leather jacket and at Christmas with a black cashmere polo neck. I actually don’t buy many clothes now and only buy if it is a designer I really want or a vintage piece. I don’t go to Penneys anymore and don’t want to be tempted – on principle.”
Joan Murray, a trained radiologist and mother of seven (now a grandmother)from Roscommon, who has lived in Dublin for the past 63 years, is a member of the Georgian Society and a youthful 90. “I would buy very little and what I buy would have to be very good quality – one coat a year. I have always been interested in clothes, but never had a lot of money. Colour is my main thing and I love modern stuff and think that Massimo Dutti does wonderful things. The blue coat I am wearing was bought for me by my daughter in Barcelona – it’s by MaxMara and she bought it because she said that she remembers three blue coats she wore as a child. The skirt was bought in Arnotts 25 years ago and the blue sweater is by Massimo Dutti which one of my grandchildren bought for me last autumn. The scarf from The Tie Shop was a gift from my daughter-in-law. “To what does she attribute her vitality and longevity? “Hard work and plain food.”
Freddy Mehigan is the owner of Tasty Threads in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin. A UCD graduate in philosophy and geography with a degree in sports business, he moved to Santiago, California hoping to get into the hospitality industry, but got into trading secondhand clothing instead. After a surfing injury forced him to return home, he opened Tasty Threads in January, a fashion exchange buying and selling quality pre-loved clothing at prices from €25-€150. “I bought this padded jacket which I have often used as a pillow when camping – it’s by Inside, an outdoor US surf brand which I bought in a thrift store in Santiago when it was 35 degrees and I didn’t need a coat, but I traded a couple of shirts and a pair of jeans and walked out with a coat for free – and I love it to bits. It has breast pockets and is cosy and light and you can wear it all year round.”
Mary Nally, from Galway, is the founder of Drop Everything, the festival on Inis Oírr that encompasses visual arts, architecture, fashion, food, design and literature and takes place every two years on the last weekend in May. Her day job is as a creative freelance, an “ideas person” and art director for The Greedy Pig creative agency in Dublin. “This black Aran handknitted sweater was made for me on Inis Oírr by Mairéad Uí Fhlathairta whom I met on the plane with her sister on my first trip to Inis Oírr. Her mother had coordinated all the handknitters and they had done knitting workshops. I had always wanted a black Aran and she agreed to make it and I don’t think she will ever make another one (as the black is more difficult to knit). I got it only last year but wear it a lot and I love all the various stitches and patterns on it. Baking bread is like knitting and the best compliments on it that I get are from the women on the island who recognise its work and its maker.”
With special thanks to Rosie O Reilly of Re-dress and to the new Iveagh Garden Hotel in Harcourt Street, Europe’s first sustainable hotel.