From innovative fabric sourcing and pattern development to marketing and admin, Aoife McNamara is hands-on in just about every aspect of her eponymous brand. And while one might assume that leaves very little time for anything else, guaranteeing moments for herself each day is actually what, she insists, allows her creativity to unfold. “My morning routine really sets me up right for whatever the day brings. Usually, it involves some cold water, be that a quick swim in the sea or having a freezing shower and I follow that with some gratitude practise or journaling,” she says. “Then, I start my work day and live by my Samsung Calendar which I try to organise the night before, always dedicating my first hour to designing or prioritising something creative. Otherwise, the busyness can get on top of you and it becomes too easy to get caught up in the back-to-back calls, emails and meetings.”
A native of the West coast and with her studio-come-shop located in a renovated thatched cottage in the village of Adare, much of Aoife’s inspiration – including that of her latest collection called ‘Enchanted by Nature, in a Disenchanted World’ – comes from her natural surroundings and Ireland’s wild beauty. “Being by the sea is where I feel most alive, most inspired, so celebrating the Irish coastline is a huge part of my creative process,” she says, “I’m always taking pictures on my phone of the sunsets and sunrises over the bay in County Clare, which in turn, provide the main colour stories behind my collections, so the quality of the images is really important.” In fact, much of Aoife’s design process, she explains, is documented using her Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 – the ‘flex mode’ functioning as a built-in stand and freeing up her hands to make adjustments during fittings.
Flex and Go
After graduating from Limerick School of Art & Design with an honour’s degree in Fashion in 2018, Aoife spent time in both New York and Paris, gaining experience working for household names such as Marc Jacobs. While she enjoyed the fast pace of life in the big cities, it was during this period the young designer realised she wanted to start her own luxury label, one with sustainable production at its core. “Working for others, my vision wasn’t to the fore. As a smaller business with a close-knit team overseeing every detail, I have the flexibility to learn, change and ensure that each piece of clothing is made sustainably and ethically,” she says, “Managing the manufacturing process from start to finish, collaborating with Irish craftspeople and mixing heritage fabrics like wool and linen with new, innovative textiles, that’s what really excites me. We’re currently working with a Spanish supplier, PYRATEX® on a fabric that’s carbon-neutral and made completely with seaweed from the Atlantic Ocean.”
With dreams of rebuilding our relationship with nature by aligning values with those of mother earth, it’s no wonder Aoife’s ambitions go beyond being “just a clothing brand”, instead seeing her role as that of an educator and community cultivator. “People are certainly becoming more aware nowadays, but I feel like many still don’t realise the extent of the impact the fashion industry has on the environment… it’s the second biggest polluter, only behind the oil industry,” she says. “Shopping local and choosing clothes that are made from natural fibres and designed to last can improve the situation and I see it as my responsibility to help educate a new wave of conscious consumers.”
While creating clever and captivating content to seed out to her near-30K Instagram followers is an integral part of growing her business, just last month, Aoife opened the gates of her cottage for an in-person event promoting a mindful approach to life. “I really want to connect with and build on our vibrant following of leaders, dreamers, problem-solvers and activists,” she says. “There are more Pilates and mindfulness workshops planned for this summer, as well as clothes-mending classes to really encourage that message of circularity, because people won’t invest in my brand ethos until they understand why buying sustainable really matters.”
For more information on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, visit shop.samsung.com/ie