THE INSIDER: LAURA WHITMORE ON #WEARINGIRISH
Irish television presenter and radio broadcaster, Laura Whitmore was thrust into the limelight in 2008 after winning MTV’s ‘Pick Me’ competition and has since forged a hugely successful career in broadcasting and media over the past decade, not to mention sitting alongside some global superstars as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
A stylish regular at all things red carpet, award ceremonies and fashion parties, and known to rock a killer pant-suit, Laura has been a long-time supporter of the #wearingirish movement. #Wearingirish is the ground breaking platform founded by Margaret Molloy in 2016 that aims to promote Ireland’s reputation for fashion and design.
We caught up with Laura who kindly let us in on a few of her favourite brands and why she's so proud of what’s happening in Irish fashion today.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE IRISH BRANDS AT THE MOMENT AND WHY?
I just think Irish designers have always got it right. The variety in what they do and the authenticity of their craftsmanship is really unique. They always care about what they do and I think that really plays into their success. I'm a huge fan of everyone but some of my particular favourites are Simone Rocha, Joanne Hynes, Helen Steele, Natalie B Coleman and Zoe Jordan - these are a very talented group of ladies who create and very unique pieces.
HAVE YOU NOTICED AN INCREASE IN PROMINENCE OF IRISH FASHION BRANDS IN LONDON OVER THE RECENT YEARS?
Yes the amount of Irish names on the London Fashion Week official schedule is growing big time, and it’s really great to see. This year I went to Natalie B Coleman’s LFW 2019 presentation and she definitely wowed. This presentation was the debut of her collaboration collection with the UN Population Fund in New York who had commissioned her to design a 2019 collection based around the message of women’s empowerment to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This collection was amazing and had pieces exploring the female body, female empowerment and bold slogans, I encourage everyone to take a look. Not only was the collection politically poignant, but the artistry was striking - the pieces were made using Irish handcraft techniques traditionally associated with women such as crochet, knit, Carrickmacross lace and embroidery.
GIVEN THE AMOUNT OF TALENTED IRISH DESIGNERS CURRENTLY IN THE MARKET, DO YOU THINK THAT INCREASED PRESS COVERAGE OF DUBLIN FASHION WEEK IS SOMETHING TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR?
Yes, it definitely is. I think it’s only going to get more popular and should definitely be a focus of the international fashion media. In fact I've been to the fashion festival in Dublin a number of times and am always blown away by the talent. I only hope the recent international success of new young Irish designers justifies this festival becoming bigger and better, most definitely a space to watch…
Even without the young brands coming through, Ireland has an enviable roster of really established global designers - look at Paul Costelloe, John Rocha, Philip Treacy and Don O'Neill (who I met at Anna Wintour's house in New York but that's another story…). These are huge names that everyone in Ireland is really proud of and that have carved a path for courageous young brands coming behind them.
WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO IRISH BRANDS TRYING TO CRACK THE UK MARKET AND MANAGE THE TRANSITION FROM BEING AN LOCAL IRISH BRAND TO AN GLOBAL BRAND?
Be true to your brand and find your niche. As long as your brand has an authentic story to tell, people will engage. This story doesn’t have to be new or complex, and can be as simple as producing using top quality and ethically sourced materials, but let consumers know what you are selling and why and they will buy in and be loyal.
Also “Irish” as a brand in itself has an intrinsic value and is globally recognised, and so use that to your advantage, join networks that will help promote this and give you an additional platform upon which to sell your products - make sure people know where you come from and that you’re proud of it. This will go a long way.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT #WEARINGIRISH HAS BEEN SUCH A SUCCESS?
Because people love buying, wearing and celebrating authenticity. This movement has given me, and everyone else, the opportunity to not just discover new Irish brands but also the makers behind them and their stories.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE #WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT.
I love being involved in the #wearingirish movement as fashion means a lot to me, I love wearing pieces that are beautifully crafted and authentic and I am so proud of my roots. The #wearingirish platform profiles young designers and brands helping them get publicity and initial press and everyone involved in the network does what they can to support these brands whether that means making certain introductions, or bragging about them to friends in London etc. Being able to support young Irish designers and emerging artists is something that’s really close to my heart and that I‘m really proud of and something that I will certainly continue.
IRISH OR NON-IRISH, WHO ELSE ARE YOU LOVING AT THE MOMENT?
Simone Rocha - https://simonerocha.com/
Joanne Hynes - http://www.joannehynes.com/
Natalie B Coleman - http://www.nataliebcoleman.com
Bora Aksu - https://boraaksu.com/
Fyodor Golan - https://fyodorgolan.co.uk/
Find out more about the fantastic #wearingirish movement at http://wearingirish.com/