This week I visited the bright and beautiful Loft Market at Powerscourt shopping centre in the heart of Dublin city. The Loft Market is an Irish design and fashion collective providing a space for up-coming Irish designers to show-case their work. The collective was set up in 2006 by the fashion editor of THREAD magazine, Aisling Faranella, and is currently under the creative direction of Kate Nolan. Having faced many ups and downs in its almost 7 years, the Loft market is still going strong and has firmly established itself as the place to find new and exciting Irish fashion design.
I met with Kate on Sunday and over a cup of coffee we had a good long chat about the Loft, its impact, legacy and future.
|Kate Nolan, creative director of the Loft Market|
"Back then, there was no space for ethical fashion and small Irish Design. It was all too expensive. The Loft is a starting point for designers who want to set up their own label."The Loft supports Irish design and ethically made fashion and would prioritize items "made in Ireland". Kate is adamant that they would not allow any mass-produced garments to be sold there. It's about the one-off piece, the statement design.
The Loft Market was established in conjunction with Powerscourt Towncentre. With its focus on high quality Irish design, it fitted in with the vision of the shopping centre and so Powerscourt allowed for it to be established as a collective. The designers share the rent for the space and are obligated to staff the boutique for one day per week. Occurring no staffing cost and the low rent makes it possible for the designers to make a profit from selling their work at the Loft. Being a collective also means that most decisions are taken collectively. Kate admits that this can be difficult sometimes, as with 20 different designers involved, there are many voices to be heard. However, Kate sees it as the right way to run the Loft, as it is as much the designers' space as it is hers.
When I ask her, whether the designers can make a living and be successful out of selling their creations at the Loft, Kate replies: "Make a living? Absolutely. Success, that depends on how you define it." The Loft designers can support themselves and produce their work without being dependent on the state or other sources of funding. "Having been around for a while, we know what we can offer designers. We can give them a space, a certain amount of kudos maybe, a community and a knowledge base, but we can't guarantee success in the sense of living a champagne-and-caviar-lifestyle." Although Kate has seen designers move from the Loft straight into places such as Brown Thomas.
The Loft Market recently - and quite unexpectedly - moved into a new venue within the Powerscourt centre. Whereas the old space was bigger and had more of a real atmosphere, the new venue has more of a boutique feel about it. While Kate admits that they are still "trying to find their feet" with the new location, she sees it as progress and an interesting development for the Loft.
What I love about the Loft is how versatile it is. From cutting-edge and rather experimental design to more affordable, conventional pieces, there is literally something here for everyone (or every girl, maybe).
Designer Jane Hayden for instance hand-makes these beautiful and unique silk tops, some of which feature large digital prints.
I also adore the cute and feminine designs by independent fashion label tokiki. From her Dublin studio, tokiki designer Carolyn Moore creates comfortable and flattering dresses, often mixing jersey fabric with prints and lace trims. Tokiki's limited edition garments have even been featured in Topshop.
Set up in 2007, label Aliquo makes fashionable and affordable jewellery pieces. Their designs are very accessible and have a whimsical and girly flair. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I know many a girl who would love to wear one of these delicate pieces.
"The Aliquo jewellery collection is all about vintage charm combined with clean, contemporary lines."
However, if you are not looking for delicate, but for something that shouts a little louder, then maybe these statement necklaces by artist Ina Suliak are the thing for you. Ina's bespoke collections are created by hand in a highly laborious and skillful process that combines bead embroidery with semi-precious stones. Ina's pieces are reminiscent of her background in art and sculpture.
I hope I have given you a taste for all the lovely things available at the Loft Market Dublin. Make sure to visit it on your next trip. The Loft is open seven days a week! You can find out more on their website or by following them on twitter and facebook.
Have you visited the Loft before or do you know any other great spots for Irish design & ethical fashion? What was your experience? Feel free to share...