Irish slow fashion brand calls for `A Gentle Life ' with new collection

Irish slow fashion brand calls for `A Gentle Life ' with new collection
June 2024
Szilvia Szabó

Szilvia Szabó Author

Journalist, Editor
Journalist, Editor

When was the last time you stood in front of your wardrobe, getting ready for a date, family event, or a girl's night out, feeling you didn`t have a single piece to wear despite probably having more clothes piled up than you will ever need?

Fast fashion and an even faster-paced life condition us to keep up with the ever-changing trends almost religiously, chasing the illusion that more is merrier regardless of quality, values, or authentic style.

Trailblazer designers Triona Lillis and Aoibheann MacNamara, founders of the slow fashion brand The Tweed Project, are inviting wearers to indulge in pieces that seamlessly blend traditional and contemporary Irish design with individuality while channelling the essence of a simpler time as they mark their 10th anniversary.

Their unique approach to using overlooked fabrics, such as Donegal Tweed or Irish Linen, in creating handmade one-off pieces has been the foundation of their decade-long commitment to simplicity and the artistry of natural fabrics.

Reflecting on their inspiration for creating this line, Aoibheann shares her personal connection: “It’s to do with both being older and needing things more gentle and softer than before.

Softer emotions and ways of being in the world and softness in what we wear and how that affects us.”

Triona adds: “We have both reached a similar point in life where we’d like to slow down a little or have more periods of rest as life and work can be so busy”.

The Tweed Project Founders, Triona Lillis and Aoibheann MacNamara. Image: The Tweed Project

The new collection is not only a testament to a long-term commitment to simplicity and the artistry of natural fabrics but also resonates with the ethos of gentleness and mindful consumption.

“We’re definitely seeing the consumer asking for better quality, fairer wages for workers, more transparency in manufacturing, but there is still a lot of greenwashing going on in the fashion business.

A ‘conscious’ labelled t-shirt that’s sold at €5 has to be viewed as suspicious,”

says Triona.

The Tweed Project`s work of designing timeless outfits with longevity in mind is feeding into the growing “capsule wardrobe” trend, calling shoppers to opt for a smaller number of lasting items that can be easily mixed and matched together to meet styling needs and dreams.

“We’ve been harping on about this for ten years… But when major fashion brands are using dead stock and recycling fabrics, you know it’s more than a trend,” says Triona.

This approach appeals to many conscious consumers since we tend to wear only 10% of our clothes on a day-to-day basis, and on average, clothes are only worn seven times before being discarded.

`A Gentle Life` collection designed by The Tweed Project reflects on values and sustainability. Image: The Tweed Project

Keeping the production local and small-scale in Galway allows Aoibheann and Triona to look after details and blend carefully selected materials with authentic modern tailoring brought to life by talented Irish suppliers.

“You feel floaty and girly and elegant all at the same time,” says Aoibheann about the cream tweed skirt presented in “A Gentle Life” collection, adding that for her, it is the “most beautiful feeling item” she ever put on from The Tweed Projects.

The linen or tweed round-collar jacket is the ultimate choice for Triona: “It`s very comfortable, stylish, and will keep me warm. Besides, it goes well with jeans or a dress, making it an extremely versatile and timeless piece.”

Considering that we throw away about 60 per cent of still good quality clothing within the first year, adding to the 92 million tons of textile waste produced every year globally, it is time to set a new fashion trend that is built on quality, values and longevity.

Creating high-end handcrafted items relies on suppliers just as much as on design.

Triona highlights that they have always appreciated their relationship with Irish partners:

“They have been at the top of their game, producing traditional Irish fabrics for generations. Since day one, we have worked with Molloy & Sons, the talented father and son weavers in County Donegal. The quality of their work is of the highest calibre and internationally revered, and our customers never fail to be in awe of their craftsmanship.”

Although the raw materials are not from Ireland, all the spinning, dying, and, most importantly, weaving takes place in these small Irish factories, supporting them to stay in business.

Aoibheann and Triona are keen to thoughtfully use all indigenous materials such as tweed, linen, and Aran knits.

“We have zero waste. We reuse every single thread of fabric being produced and are very proud of that as it also really enhances the design process,”

says Aoibheann.

Indigenous materials are used with a zero waste approach by The Tweed Project. Image: The Tweed Project

Looking back on their journey, both founders feel that their principles remain untouched, still harnessing their love for what they do while continuing to create value for their customers.

The Tweed Project is intertwined with the founders' personal lives as they pursue other ventures and cross-pollinate this one with their experiences and life paths.

As Fiona describes it, for her, “it is very fulfilling personally as it feeds a desire to create something purely aesthetic.”

Aoibheann adds: “It was very important to me artistically for many years and almost opened my ability to be creative, so I really value that.”

The Tweed Project is paving the way towards a more sustainable and kinder future on its own accord, as Aoibheann shares that instead of setting fixed goals, they tend to take a more adaptive approach.

“I never really aspire to stuff; I just let it happen, so Triona and I are often pleasantly surprised by the next turn in the road... as opposed to making the thing happen.”

Szilvia Szabó

Szilvia Szabó Author

Journalist, Editor
Journalist, Editor