Mad for men

Today’s Irish men dress smarter and are open to trying new styles, Valerie O’Neill, director of menswear at Arnotts, tells Deirdre McQuillan


‘I rish guys are much more open to suggestion as to what they could or should be wearing – there is so much information out there in social media and from influences like Mad Men , MTV and The Great Gatsby ,” says Arnotts’ director of menswear Valerie O’Neill, who by her own admission is “obsessive” about the subject.

With more than 70 brands under her supervision and an all-female buying team, O’Neill masterminds a 30,000 sq ft menswear department, the biggest in Ireland. “We’ve been adding young brands and changing the mix around,” she says.

It coincides with the era of the well-dressed male, a cultural shift evidenced by the explosion of interest in men’s fashion in recent years.
Today’s metropolitan, smart, street savvy and sophisticated male is unafraid of expressing an interest in fashion hitherto considered suspiciously effeminate rather than manly.

That attitude has transformed and revved up the market in ways and at a speed unimaginable before.

Who would have thought 10 years ago that men would be wearing red jeans, flower print shirts and manbags? Or that London would now have its own menswear fashion week?

In the workplace some businesses may insist on the suit and tie, but others allow jeans with jackets and shirts. As so often in menswear, the detail is what counts.

Architecture, music and comedy uplift the spirit, so a pride in appearance and looking better now means that many young males at all levels are becoming au fait with trends, fabrics and cut. “We like to make every collection easy to understand, show how it should look and make it wearable, particularly if you are testing colour and print,” says O’Neill.

“At the weekends you’ll notice guys in the store in their 20s and up. They are browsers who like shopping – it’s a youth thing.”

Current silhouettes are narrower and more tailored, suits more pared down, pants more cropped, and the revival of heritage brands and fabrics remain upward trends.

The new spring looks were shot on location in the Marker in Grand Canal Square, Dublin’s newest luxury hotel . For opening offers, see

Sean Jackson at Morgan the Agency assisted by Clara Hoooper

Aisling Farinella assisted by Kieran Kilgallon

Billy Orr at Morgan the Agency

Mads at Models 1