Leading figure in the clothing industry and keen yachtsman

Brian Tucker, who has died aged 64, was a leading figure in the Irish clothing industry, affectionately known as "the blazer …

Brian Tucker, who has died aged 64, was a leading figure in the Irish clothing industry, affectionately known as "the blazer king" in the early l970s for a jacket that became his trademark.

With a reputation for skilled cutting and for good fit, the Tucker label became synonymous with well-made coats, suits and raincoats, women's outwear staples that were sold all over the country.

"His understanding of clothing was innate," said Margaret Kelleher of Blarney Woollen Mills, a long-standing customer. "He was a visionary in his own way and his strength was in his eye. He could see a trend and come up with the goods and his manufacturing standards were always very high." His clothes not only sold throughout Ireland, but were also exported to the US, the UK, Europe, Japan and, more recently, to Mexico.

An active member of Howth Yacht Club and the Irish Cruising Club, he was equally well known and respected amongst the sailing fraternity and had been looking forward to participating in the 75th anniversary of the ICC in West Cork next July. He built his first boat, a small Firefly dinghy, himself, and four years ago bought the late Liam MacGonagle's ketch, Ounavarra, a Moody 46 which he kept in Majorca. "He was an excellent sailor, very calm and cool even in very bad weather conditions," recalls Brendan Connors, a friend and sailing companion.


Brian Alfred Tucker was born in Dublin in l939, the eldest of five children of Ernest (Ernie) Tucker and Maureen Brady and grew up in Mobhi Road in Glasnevin, Dublin. Clothing was in his blood; his father had been involved in the business for 40 years.

Both parents were keen golfers, members and past captains of Hermitage and Skerries Golf Clubs. The Tuckers spent their entire summers in Skerries along with other Dublin families. Ernie Tucker was a close friend of Seán Lemass.

Having attended Belvedere College where one of his classmates was the publisher, Michael Gill, Brian Tucker started his apprenticeship in Clerys and then Arnotts, following a well-worn trail by others who made their careers in the clothing trade.

As a sales rep for Arnotts' wholesale division, he travelled all around the country, but really cut his teeth in the industry when he joined Jimmy Hourihan where he worked as a sales representative for 10 years.

It was there that he met a young fashion designer called Billie Taylor who was to become his wife and lifelong partner. Jimmy Hourihan remembers Brian Tucker as a young man with an endlessly inquiring mind, a great knowledge of machinery, very gregarious and multi-talented. "He always wanted to know how things worked. He was a great navigator, great company, a fantastic cook and even when it came to cutting up food, he wanted to know the correct way to do it. He could have made a different career in any industry."

In the late l960s, he and Billie decided to set up on their own and moved into a basement in Dublin's South William Street from where the business grew rapidly, later developing both a retail and a manufacturing arm.

In the late l970s, along with other manufacturers like Henry White and Jimmy Hourihan, Brian Tucker started developing outlets in the US and Canada, becoming as well known in Toronto as in Dublin at one stage. Two of his brothers, David and Geoff followed him into the business after Belvedere College, though Geoff Tucker, who lives in the west of Ireland, is now out on his own.

Friends and colleagues remember Brian Tucker as a loyal and generous friend, a great host and a skilled cook, particularly well remembered for inimitable Caesar salads and fish dishes.

Although interested in politics and a close friend of Charles Haughey - he often cooked on C.J.H's boat - he was never a member of a political party, but always had his own view on current affairs. A reformed smoker, he was, for example, strongly in favour of Micheál Martin's smoking bill.

When his parents died, he became a de facto patriarch of the Tucker family and though he could be occasionally somewhat dictatorial, he was a loving father and brother, always there when needed, always offering advice.

His loyalty to his friends was absolute; when any were down on their luck, Brian Tucker was the one who would quietly organise a private collection to help them. In business, he was respected for being "likeable and tough".

The Tucker tradition endures; three of his six children to whom he always gave great encouragement have followed him into the business and their shop, Costume, run by Billie, Tracy and Ann in Dublin's Castle Market is now one of the city's premier fashion destinations.

His daughter Leigh is making her own way as a fashion designer and his eldest son Brian is an award-winning film director. "He was a great character," says Jimmy Hourihan, "great company and a great host. He lived life to the full and was larger than life."

Brian Tucker: born 1939, died November 17th 2003