Limerick fashion designer blends fashion and sustainability

Limerick designer Aoife McNamara, CEO of Aoife Ireland

GROWING up in Limerick, Aoife McNamara was inspired by fashion icons like Stella McCartney, Eileen Fischer, and Caledonia. She always knew she was creative, but it wasn’t until she attended a fashion show as a teen that she knew just what she was born to do.

Aoife recalls the event as something of a flashbulb moment in kickstarting her career. Mesmerised by the glam she saw on the catwalk, she took her first steps into the world of fashion as a student at Limerick School of Art and Design. It was in the Clare Street institution, forging forward her first creative footsteps, that she found her second passion. The environment.

Driven by creating sustainable changes in how we develop and interact with clothing, Aoife has made it her life’s mission to show consumers that fashion doesn’t have to hurt our environment. Merging her love of the outdoors with her passion for fabric and textiles, Aoife Ireland was born.

Aoife Ireland is a booming brand right now and has a cult following both at home and overseas. Quite literally a cottage industry, Aoife’s flagship store in Adare is based in a stunning renovated thatched cottage on Main Street.

“I believe in Earth-logic, not clothes-logic,” Aoife declares. “The planet comes first, and every single decision we make with the brand, every detail is considered.”

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Aoife Ireland is the sum of the Limerick woman’s life’s work to date. The brand allows fashion-forward consumers to shop guilt-free, knowing they are part of the fight against climate change.

But it doesn’t stop with the clothing, Aoife says. Everything the Aoife Ireland CEO does is eco-friendly, from her packaging right down to the furniture in the gorgeous Adare cottage flagship store. Every detail of the brand has been considered with one question is mind – “Is it sustainable?”

Each of Aoife’s collections is broken up into seasons, all inspired by nature. The Burren in Co Clare served as muse for much of the local designer’s Season 8 collection. The karst natural landscape and untouched biodiversity handing up a reminder of how nature can thrive when not interfered with.

“When you walk into the Burren, because it’s the most biodiverse ecosystem we have in Ireland, there are loads of different flowers, animals, and colours. It’s full of life because it’s not touched, and because we can’t farm it, it’s just allowed nature to grow and nourish. I was really mesmerised by that,” she explains.

Aoife’s love of the natural world inspires everything she does.

“Growing up, I had such a strong love for sea swimming and being outdoors. It was my favourite thing to do. That married with my love for creativity.

“When I went to LSAD and figured out the impact that the fashion industry has on our planet, I think that’s really when the outdoors and fashion came together for me, and I was like ‘Okay, I need to make change’.”

All of Aoife’s pieces have elements of Irish nature woven throughout, many made up of Irish linen and wool (sourced over county lines in Nenagh from John Hanly & Co). Some of her new collection will even be created from Irish seaweed – you did read that correctly.

Looking to the future, Aoife has her sights set on the US fashion capital, New York City. Last month, the Limerick woman visited the Big Apple to capture the first-ever Aoife Ireland photoshoot.

She hopes to break into the US market during New York Fashion Week in September, bringing her message of sustainability with her to welcoming wardrobes countrywide.

With all the success the Limerick fashionista is racking up so far, there’s one question everyone is asking – Is it sustainable? You bet it is.