Local heroes: Celebrating style ahead of Cork Fashion Week

Ahead of Cork Fashion Week, Carolyn Moore pays tribute to our boutiques and their independent spirit.

It’s what Cork is known for, and this season it’s the prevailing mood in fashion — an independent spirit swept the autumn/winter collections and the fashion world is celebrating individuality like never before.

It’s an attitude that comes naturally to the independent spirits who have been shaping Ireland’s fashion landscape for decades; the passionate retailers and boutique owners who work tirelessly to stay ahead of the curve, sourcing new labels, championing creativity, supporting emerging designers, and — most importantly — putting their unique stamp on the increasingly homogenous high streets of our towns and cities (not to mention our increasingly clone-like wardrobes).

Whether it’s the rural boutique that’s become a fashion destination or the city emporium that’s a launch pad for young designers, the nation’s independent retailers live and breathe fashion, and breathe life and vigour into the fashion scene.

The quest for individuality drives customers to seek out independent retailers, and the personal touch differentiates the boutique shopping experience. 

Carefully curating each new season’s offerings, often with particular customers in mind, the best boutique owners are beyond business people and buyers — they’re personal shoppers, stylists, and sometime therapists who develop strong relationships with their customers.

In short, they are the fashion heroes who are the heart and soul of Ireland’s fashion scene, and as we head into another Cork Fashion Week — which kicks off on October 14 with A Celebration of Irish Design at Castlemartyr Resort — we’re celebrating the fact that Cork is home to some of the country’s best and brightest.

From family-owned O’Dwyers Shoes — 60 years strong and stylishly revamped as The Shoe Suite — to iconic Samui, which Clodagh Shorten has grown into a mini department store stocking THE essential edit of the world’s top fashion and lifestyle brands; from Paper Dolls — where Aisling Kirwan stocks effortlessly cool European labels — to new kids on the block, Olori, named for sisters Lisa and Susan Jane’s mum, Dolores; and from Breda Casey’s Miss Daisy Blue — renowned nationwide for exceptional vintage — to Ruby Morley’s little gem, Isobella Ru, Cork knows how to deliver when it comes to great fashion.

For high end, mid-range, and everything in between, the city is a one-stop-shop for fashion fans looking beyond the high street for hard working wardrobe builders, high fashion investment pieces, or show-stopping occasion wear, and busy women know the time saved shopping a tight edit of the season’s biggest trends — with the help of someone who knows their budget, their body and their taste — is worth the investment.

So take inspiration from our Cork indie edit, and set your independent spirit free this season.


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